Portrait of Mrs Lili Matačić, 1931/33
oil on wood
79.6 x 59 cm
Ivo Režek’s painting had a particularly formative influence on Croatian painting between the two wars, and it is characterised by order and measure and high quality of métier. His education at the Zagreb College of Arts and Crafts was interrupted by military conscription. He was wounded in Galicia, and after the war he moved to Prague where he obtained a degree in painting with the highest professional honours and critical praise. In 1924, as an already formed painter, he moved to Paris where he developed the neoclassical style under the influence of Derain’s proportions and Picasso’s return to figuration. Režek emphasises the true meaning of the painted motif by reducing its exterior to a monumental form devoid of detail. From Paris, where he also studied the technique of fresco painting and where he successfully exhibited his work, Režek finally returned to Zagreb in 1931. Consistently faithful to the aesthetics of solid form, he achieved the pinnacle of his personal style in the traditional themes of portrait and still life with a combination of magical forms, chromatic saturation and profound sensibility. Portrait of Mrs Lili Matačić, wife of the celebrated conductor Lovro von Matačić, is part of a series of Režek’s intimist works from the 1930s, which are characterised by conceptual purity and pronounced expressivity. He published caricatures with sharp criticism of the socio-political situation and fascism in the magazines Koprive and Kerempuh. After World War II, he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He also painted church frescoes (Trsat, Mihaljevci near Požega), while remaining permanently devoted to figuration. He died in 1979.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022