Polyphemus’s Dream, 1982
tempera and oil on canvas
Zlatko Keser (1942) is an exceptional painter and draughtsman of Abstract Surrealism. He has been painting using his very own technique, which he applies via intense controlled automatism. His themes are subconscious and are brought to the point of flaming and in some paintings even destruction. In that regard, for Keser his paintings and drawings are existence itself. In other words, Keser becomes, according to art historian Igor Zidić, what he does. For him, paper and canvas are energy screens of elusive psychological forces. At the crossroads of sign-like and figurative-abstract relations, Keser’s esoteric oeuvre develops from ecstasy to melancholy, from a flicker to gloominess, from burning to absorption. According to art historian Tonko Maroević, Keser’s paintings are his investment of energy and matter transformed into facts of art.
Keser completed both his undergraduate (in 1967) and graduate studies (in 1969) under Prof. Oton Postružnik at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He worked as an associate at painter Krsto Hegedušić’s master workshop between 1971 and 1975. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb between 1984 and 2008, and in 2014 he was bestowed the title of professor emeritus. His work has been included in many important representative exhibitions since the mid-1980s, and has become unavoidable in context-specific exhibitions that tackle the question of the current state of affairs and the end of painting since the late 1990s. According to art critic and theorist Josip Depolo, all historical and artistic reviews of contemporary Croatian art should devote a special chapter to Keser given that he is a distinct builder of Croatia’s Postmodernism. Keser’s so-called infantile style, lush colouristic magma and contrasting compositions are highly specific. Keser’s art, according to art historian Ivana Mance, relates to spiritual experience. Zlatko Keser’s Polyphemus’s Dream painting from 1982 is one such surreal-mythical visualisation of a hallucinatory impact. He has been a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2004. He has exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad, and is the recipient of the 2015 Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award given annually by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb