Željko Hegedušić, The Grain Market in Mitrovica, 1935


Željko Hegedušić
The Grain Market in Mitrovica, 1935
oil on canvas
61, 5 × 47 cm
on the reverse: A Composition, circa 1935
61,5 × 46.5 cm

Željko Hegedušić’s The Grain Market in Mitrovica from 1935 indicates that his position within the context of Croatia’s interwar painting was divergent. Although in 1932 he started exhibiting regularly as a guest with the Earth Association of Artists, which was founded by his older brother Krsto, Željko did not share the association’s fundamental commitment to descriptiveness or their pursuit of social criticism. He followed the association’s fundamental concept of form and ideology in general, but what he strove for was a surrealist aesthetics inspired by the overall European legacy of Modernism. Although the grain market in Mitrovica was indeed a typical motif of the association, Željko Hegedušić painted it with a complex network of smeary brushstrokes rather than by using the association’s trademark style of simplified flat forms of local colours. The scene of the vibrant marketplace ends with bleak architecture. The surrealist inventory that Hegedušić only hinted at in his The Grain Market in Mitrovica completely takes over his A Composition on the reverse, which is an imaginary construction of body parts and machines, architecture, musical instruments and symbols.

After having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Željko Hegedušić studied in Paris, where he came into contact with Purism and metaphysical Surrealism. In the 1950s he started working on graphic art projects and mixed painting techniques. His imagination was becoming increasingly wide and brought to life surreal, playful motifs depicting a wide array of experiences ranging from tragic to lyrical. He taught at high schools in Zagreb and Srijemska Mitrovica, and at the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb. He also did wall paintings, applied print techniques, design and book illustration, and copied frescoes.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator 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

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