Ultra A, 1965
wall paint on wood
Miroslav Šutej (1936-2005) was one of the most visionary Croatian painters, graphic and ambience artists of High Modernism and Postmodernism. His Ultra A painting-object from 1965 is an example of Optical Art, a modernist movement featuring optical and hypnotic traits that trick the human eye. Šutej built Ultra A’s black and white elegance by multiplying and bulging positives and negatives of his distinctive signature sign. The painting is a combination of science and art typical of the positivist and modernist New Tendencies international art movement (Zagreb, 1961-1973). Šutej graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1961 under Prof. Marijan Detoni and worked as an associate at painter Krsto Hegedušić’s master workshop from 1961 to 1963. In 1966, Šutej started creating more pronounced three-dimensional painting-objects. He made his artworks of complex yet pure conception movable and tactile, to suggest growth, expansion and immersion in the object. He also introduced colour which enhanced the dynamics of his visualisations. He transformed his works into playful objects, and also transferred the mobility of his painting-objects to the field of graphic arts and drawing. After the mid-1970s, Šutej turned to the motifs of folklore and eroticism, and in the 1980s he started creating painting-drawings, collages and mixed-media works of a distinct colourism. He also did ambience and video installations (e.g., Covered Eyes, 2004). Miroslav Šutej was a homo ludens who played by creating and who enthroned play as a fundamental element of his art. In line with Šutej’s credo – which was recorded by art historian Damir Grubić to be the following: Everything is play, play is everything! – the concept of the importance of play and the extent to which it defines the artistic dimension of an individual is mirrored in Šutej’s oeuvre as a whole.
Text:Željko Marciuš, museum consultant 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