Ivo Gattin, Red Surface, 1961

Ivo Gattin
Red Surface, 1961
burnt resin on jute
103,5×155,4 cm

Ivo Gattin (1926-1978) was the first and leading representative of Art Informel in Croatia. Radicalism and experimentation with non-painterly materials (pigment, wax, sand, resin, wire) and creative processes (coating, burning, piercing, scratching, tearing, beating, decollage) were his character traits (art historian Igor Zidić) and the key methods of his material and physical, abstract expression. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1946-1951). At first, he created in the spirit of Surrealism (a 1956 exhibition, Zagreb), from which – at the peak of Art Informel (1956-1963) – formless matter developed with the help of controlled automatism and unpredictability. Gattin’s 1957 exhibition in Zagreb came as a shock and raised the question of whether it was truly art. Between 1963 and 1970 he lived in Milan and did illustrations. He created drawings and prints by frottage (rubbing), burning and tearing. In 1967 he took a career break, after which he returned in 1976. The key determinants of Gattin’s Art Informel are monochrome pictures and deviations from the rectangular format, which he transformed into amorphous objects that spread into space thanks to Gattin having penetrated their matter.

Ivo Gattin’s Red Surface from 1961 is a shapeless, course, monochrome, uterine, procedural and perforated mass which space penetrates through and which evokes the very essence of the process of painting. Semantically speaking, the Red Surface is an existential reflection of anxiety in the midst of the Cold War.
Gattin exhibited independently in Zagreb (1956, 1957, 1978), Venice (1959), Milan (1964) and Novara (1965). In 1992, curator Branka Stipančić organised a problem-based exhibition of Gattin’s work at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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