Ordan Petlevski, Vegetation, 1961

Ordan Petlevski
(1930 – 1997)
Vegetation, 1961
oil on canvas
131x121cm
MG-2567

Ordan Petlevski is one of the most important Croatian post-WWII artists in general. He was born in Prilep in Macedonia, and after finishing secondary school he moved to Zagreb to attend the Academy. In 1955, he graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts, which operated for a relatively short time (1949-1955). The study at the Academy was characterised by individual work in workshops and creative experimentation as a legacy of the Bauhaus, which probably influenced the young painter in a conceptual sense. In the period from 1955 to 1960, he worked as an associate in Krsto Hegedušić’s Master Workshop. In 1959, he won the grand prize at the First Paris Youth Biennale. For a while, he painted under the influence of Cubism, gradually moving away from figuration and approaching Abstract art and Surrealism. He is particularly close to nature, so he finds his expression in organic forms in the sense of Organic Abstraction, often preoccupied with considerations of the concepts of “beautiful” and existential.
The museum painting Vegetation from 1961, belongs to an earlier period when Petlevski was finding his own style and was preoccupied by the destroyed world of biological forms similar to the forms visible through a microscope. His palette in this period predominantly features earthy hues ranging from light brown to almost black brown tones of the decaying, disappearing vegetative world, the ultimate consequence of which is finality, death.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant 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

Boris Dogan, Vegetation, 1960

Boris Dogan
(1923 – 1992)
Vegetation, 1960
oil on canvas
97 x 110 cm
MG-2571

Boris Dogan is one of the most prominent modernist post-war painters. His early paintings created in the 1950s are already characterised by psychological mastery and colouristic-tonal poetics, refined colourway and discreet graphism. The experience of these paintings is often supernatural, unreal, fantastic. In this sense, Dogan’s tendency to poetically experience reality and reflect on the mystery of nature, frequently taking, as the motifs of his paintings, vegetation, soil and life in general, and mortality, as an inevitable disturbing fact. Later on, in the late 1950s, under the influence of Art Informel he started to use new creative forms (automatic dripping, tachisme, pasty layers of paint).
After a difficult childhood and participation in the partisan movement, in 1952 Dogan graduated from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in the class of Ljubo Babić. He worked as an associate in Krsto Hegedušić’s Master Workshop and was a member of the heterogeneous Mart Group, led by Hegedušić himself. He continued his artistic training in various cities in Europe and America. In 1988, he became a full member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts. He worked as a stage and costume designer, book illustrator and he also designed tapestries and posters. He has held numerous exhibitions, and was awarded the City of Zagreb Award in 1982 for the monographic exhibition at the Modern Gallery (today, the National Museum of Modern Art).
Dogan’s view, according to which there is an unbreakable and intrinsic link between man and nature, is also present in the museum painting Vegetation from 1960, created with a sprayed covering of vegetation. Somewhere in the network of intertwined traces of impenetrable greenery hides the secret of life and death, the eternal theme of every thinking being.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

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