Goran Fruk, Untitled, 1989

Goran Fruk
Untitled, 1989
mixed media on canvas
250 x 179.5 cm
MG-6356

By creating a personal artistic environment based on the spiritual and intellectual querying of the world within and around him, in his Untitled abstract painting from 1989, Goran Fruk seems to evoke the penetration of light in the darkness. Questioning art and its possibilities, the artist uses extreme tones, the brightest white and the darkest black, to encourage the observers to examine their own minds and interpret the work independently.
Goran Fruk (1959-1993, Zagreb) was a multimedia artist, painter, poet and a passionate mountaineer, who entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1982, after having completed his studies in comparative literature and art history at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. At the Academy, he was quickly recognised as an extremely gifted painter and a striking phenomenon in Croatian visual arts in the 1980s. His creative oeuvre spans the period from 1986 to his sudden death in 1993. During his student days, he collaborated with colleagues from the Academy on staging various actions, music projects, happenings and performances that left a significant mark on the art scene of that period. Among them, the three performances titled Defenestration I, II, III, staged from 1986 to 1988, are considered Fruk’s most significant actions. As part of that project, together with his colleagues from the Academy, he organised a happening in three acts whereby they “ejected” paintings and civilisational waste through the window of his family home and his studio onto public ground below. Fruk’s maturation as a painter led him to push the boundaries of the treatment of the painting surface and to abolish the frame of the painting itself. In a very short creative period, he achieved an intriguing body of work and left an indelible mark on the Croatian art scene with his artistic activity.

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator 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

Zlatko Keser, Untitled, 1990

Zlatko Keser
Untitled, 1990
pencil, charcoal, felt-tip pen, collage, paper
199 x 144 cm
MG-7069

Zlatko Keser (1942) belongs to the second generation of Croatian abstract painters. He graduated in 1967 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and briefly pursued a kind of postgraduate education through collaboration with Krsto Hegedušić. Keser’s individual artistic path begins in the late 1960s, at a time when abstract painting, whether in its expressive or geometric forms, takes a back seat, giving way to innovation in conceptual art and its new mediums: performance, happening, video, art installation, etc. Although closer in generation to artists of the conceptual orientation, Keser turned to post-war painting, and in his work, we can recognize influences of Art Informel, Art Brut, and Abstract Expressionism. In this tradition, both American and European, Keser sought only those stimuli that allowed him to be spontaneous and free. While spontaneity can be recognized in the morphology of each of his paintings or drawings – lines and colours being nothing more than the function of an energetic gesture – Keser’s freedom is most easily recognizable in his solitary position within the historical development of Croatian art. It is difficult to associate him with the first generation of abstract painters (Edo Murtić, Oton Gliha, Šime Perić, and others) because Keser denies the compositional harmony of the painting. For him, it seems that only the process of painting exists, and the actual painting is of secondary importance. On the other hand, it is difficult to connect him with the abstract painters of his generation (Nikola Koydl, Ivo Friščić, and others) because they depart from the legacy of expressionistic abstraction and align themselves with the spirit of the time embodied in Pop Art. However, Keser is not only solitary; he is also a wild painter, and as such, he is a strange but homologous companion to the rebellious culture of the 1960s.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator 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

Goran Trbuljak, Untitled, 1976

Goran Trbuljak
Untitled, 1976
b / w video, MP4 video file
d=8 min
MG-6837 a

Goran Trbuljak (1948) is one of the most prominent representatives of Conceptual art in Croatia, as well as one of the first Yugoslav artists who embraced video technology. Van Schley and Willoughby Sharp, two American artists, were responsible for the emergence of the new medium in Croatia, who, as the former curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Marijan Susovski said, “brought video equipment with them and revived the interest in video among Zagreb artists.” Trbuljak recorded his first video in 1972, however, the decisive event for his video work was the exhibition “Audio-Visual Messages”, held in 1973, as part of the Trigon international biennial art festival in Graz. In Graz, Trbuljak recorded five short videos, which are characterised by an analytical approach to the video medium. Trbuljak was more interested in where the limits of the new technology were than in what it could do, especially in relation to other visual arts. Three years later in Motovun, at the first and most important video art festival in former Yugoslavia, Trbuljak recorded four videos (two were recorded in the meantime in Gdańsk and Zagreb). All videos are titled “Untitled”, a reference to abstract painting and a signal to the audience to understand the videos as works that deal with the properties of the medium. However, from today’s perspective, it is difficult to see only the image of a medium in these works, especially when the video inadvertently (?) documents a cultural practice of the time, such as listening to gramophone records together. Specifically, the camera in the foreground records a portable turntable playing two singles, that is, songs: “Da mi je znati koji joj je vrag” by Bijelo Dugme from 1975 and “Moja generacija” by the Korni Group from 1974. In the background of the filmed scene, we see body parts of three people in conversation. We don’t know what they are talking about, or what they look like, just like we don’t know what the man who is playing the records and who disappears from the foreground after the second songs starts, looks like. The camera is constantly fixed at and slightly lowered towards the table where the gramophone is playing. The gramophone is the compositional and symbolic centre of the video. It, in turn, emits messages that, depending on the social position of the observer in the Yugoslav socialist system, can be interpreted as contradictory of complementary: the song by Bijelo Dugme, in fact, speaks about winning girls’ hearts, while the song by the Korni Group – which represented Yugoslavia at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest – speaks about the responsibility of young people for the future of the country.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: still image from the video / From the National Museum of Modern Art's archives

Vlasta Delimar, Untitled, 1991

Vlasta Delimar
Untitled, 1991
mixed media
variable dimensions
MG-6351

In the series of works that Vlasta Delimar began in the late 1980s, combining different artistic me-diums (photography, artistic objects, installations) and materials (wood, tulle, mirror, lace, wheat, etc.), the focus is still on the nude female body. “For me, the body is the most natural and sincere medium an artist can use. Especially a body without any clothes. A naked body does not lie. I have always been interested in what we are when we take off our clothes. I believe that the naked body is our most sincere image,” the artist once stated. Having entered the art world during the wave of social and artistic emancipation that began in Yugoslavia in the mid-1960s, Delimar confirmed her artistic status in the following decade by performing several works with her then-partner Željko Jerman. The appearance of a young artist critically addressing the social position of women could not go unnoticed, especially since Delimar used the naked female body as a symbol of the struggle between social (patriarchal) taboos and renewed individualism.
In the work "Untitled" from 1991, Delimar expands her critical focus to the social role of women as mothers. The photograph depicting the artist and her daughter is adorned with symbolic decora-tions traditionally attributed to women by patriarchal society. It resembles a votive or sacred image, as the woman and child are surrounded by symbols of fragility (tulle), love (rose), beauty (mirror), and fertility (wheat). However, the contrast between the expressions on the mother’s face and her daughter’s face is striking. While the child is carefree and cheerful – her social initiation into wom-anhood has not yet occurred – the mother looks worriedly into the camera lens, aware of all the challenges her child will face. We can say that the ceremonial character of the scene, with its somewhat pompous spatial arrangement that extends the photograph into the observer’s space, is first questioned by the black colour of the fabric and tulle, and ultimately negated by the artist’s concerned facial expression. What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into unease and a warning.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Duje Jurić, Untitled, 1999

Duje Jurić
(1956)
Untitled, 1999
oil on canvas
150×150 cm
MG-6732

Duje Jurić (1956) is recognised as an innovator of Geometric Abstraction who appeared on Croatia’s New Geometric Art scene of the 1980s. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1981 under Prof. Vasilije Josip Jordan, and worked as an associate at painters Ljubo Ivančić and Nikola Reiser’s master workshop between 1982 and 1985. In the late 1980s he also collaborated with painter Julije Knifer on some of his murals. Initially he focused on transforming the avant-garde legacy of the Russian Avant-Garde, Constructivism, the Bauhaus Movement, De Stijl’s Neoplasticism, the New Tendencies Movement and the Fluxus Movement into his very own neoplastic style, claiming that: “Continuation of something onto something else always has a reason.” At the beginning he used neutral achromatic colours (black, white, grey), after which he expanded his palette (e.g., Untitled, 1995). The basic structure of Jurić’s painting is always a pattern that extends from vertical axes to more passive horizontals. He then created matrixes of meanders and rhombuses (in honour of painters Julije Knifer and Kazimir Malevich), with his other geometric variations generating even more densely networked geometric webs. Duje Jurić’s Untitled painting from 1999 represents one such achromatic labyrinth composed of metal tube-like vertical forms and rectangular geometric interweaving. Ultimately, he ended up elaborating the concept of painting with conceptual verbal-visual variations executed on appropriated objects (Paintings – Books, 2000), and painting-ambiance and light installations (Memo Chip, 2010; A Spatialised Paintings’ Network, 2020-2021), with which he has expanded his concept of painting striving after total geometry that would correspond to the universal digital-information age. He has exhibited in many solo exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad, and has received numerous awards for his work.

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

Vlasta Delimar, Untitled, 1991

 

 

 

 

VLASTA DELIMAR

Untitled

1991

installation, 310 x 190 x 180 cm

MG-6351

 

Vlasta Delimar graduated from the School of Applied Arts in Zagreb in 1977. She started staging performances in the 1970s as an associate member of the Group of Six Artists.

In the framework of post-conceptual exploration, with her provocative performances she examines the themes related to the female body and the position of women in society as well as the relationship between men and women (Tied to a Tree, 1985; Walkthrough as Lady Godiva, 2001). With Body Art, that is, her own body, she transcends the stereotypical social codes and interprets deviant social phenomena, questioning primarily, in an independent and unadorned manner, the role and position of women in that environment on a symbolic – expressive level, through artistic self-reflection and self-presentation, often in collaboration with other artists and using new media and visual accents, including various props, characters, actions and ambiences.

This is an art installation of Vlasta Delimar’s motherhood scene set as a stage, with a dominant black and white photograph of the nude artist and her daughter, sitting down with their gaze aimed at the camera, that is, the observer. The woman has her legs crossed and her hands placed diagonally across her pubic area with an oval talisman around her neck, while the girl has a red rose in front of her pubic area. Next to them and outside the photographic background is a tray of wheat and a black background with rhythmically positioned mirror shards, while the composition is framed with a black folded tulle like a veil.

 

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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