Traffic Lights, 1964
oil on canvas
101 x 60 cm
Đuro Seder’s painting Traffic Lights from 1964 is a paradigmatic example of the nocturnal side of painting. In his early phase, the artist was so preoccupied with the absurd that the only thing he saw in reality was nothingness, powerful blackness and deep silence. The critics would directly connect Đuro Seder’s black paintings with the views of the Gorgona Group, but the artist himself interprets them as a continuation of his personal, totally spontaneous and completely honest artistic explorations. The titular motif of the traffic light is just an excuse for the artist to build an artistically pure and masterfully executed composition in which only a few white spots, in the midst of a gloomy darkness, bring hope for something new and better.
Đuro Seder (Zagreb, 1927 - 2022) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1951 (mentored by Antun Mejzdić), where he also attended Marino Tartaglia’s advanced course and later worked as a professor from 1981 to 1998. He started his career working as an illustrator and graphic designer, and from the mid-1950s he created dynamic paintings in the spirit of Tachisme. As one of the founders of the Gorgona Art Group (1959 – 1966), he advocated the neo-avant-garde spirit, freedom of art and thought. Seder’s Art Informel-esque non-figurative paintings were initially dark, monochrome, and since 1976 he has been filling them with expressionist gestures and accentuated colourism. In the 1980s, he was one of the pioneers of the New Image painting in Croatian art. After the distinctive neo-expressionist total paintings with thick layers of paint from the 1990s, he later often painted self-portraits in the vein of the New Wild (since 2007) and religious themes. As a highly complex artistic personality, Seder also published poetry.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb