The Sun Atom, 1962
ink on paper
423x 624 mm
The year in which this drawing was created is important for Šutej for several reasons. Specifically, this is the year when he staged his first solo exhibition at the SC Gallery in Zagreb, won the First Prize at the exhibition of Yugoslav Graphic Art in Zagreb and the Purchase Award in Slovenj Gradec. Only a year before, he graduated from the newly founded Graphic Arts Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, and one year later, Šutej was noticed by the international audience as well: he won the First Prize at the 3rd Youth Biennale in Paris.
Stylistically, “The Sun Atom” belongs to the series of works, drawings and prints, marked by the anthological work “Bombardment of the Optic Nerve”, as the artist titled one of them. He would usually position a larger circular form in the middle of the scene, that would then concentrically expand from the centre to the edge. This central motif is often accompanied by other forms: similar, but smaller circles, smaller squares, and sometimes just lines. What macro-forms like the circle in this drawing have in common is that they are made up of diminutive black and white circles. They are precisely the units that “bombard” the eye, creating an illusion of three-dimensionality, that is, of movement. Because of these peculiarities, art critics classified Šutej’s works under Op-Art, a post-war art tendency that, counting on the physiology of human vision, tried to attract and animate the observer. It is therefore not surprising that Šutej’s drawings and prints were included in one of the most important Optical Art exhibitions, “The Responsive Eye” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Miroslav Šutej was born in 1936 in Duga Resa. He died in 2005.
Text: Klaudio Štefančić, 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