A generation of painters born in 1980s who explore the medium of painting has emerged on Croatian art scene during the last couple of years. This is not surprising if one considers the situation on a global scale. Only in last couple of years four big exhibitions focusing on contemporary painting have been organized in European centres of contemporary art . It is becoming obvious that through well-though-out work of artists and institutions dealing with contemporary art the stigma of commercial orientation and academism is slowly being lifted from the traditional media, especially painting. Artists such as Zlatan Vehabović, Stipan Tadić, Martina Grlić, Mitar Matić, to name only a few, are forming their styles unburdened with proclamations of the end of art (especially with the obviously wrong concept of the death of painting), without fear that there is nothing more to be said within the medium of their choice.

Untitled, the latest painting by Mitar Matić, has won the Grand Prix at the 32nd Youth Salon in Zagreb this year. Matić has chosen as a motif for his painting a portrait of Krešo Kovačiček, a performer from Rijeka. He is depicted sitting and reading in front of a blank canvas. Although the work was created as a reaction to the Salon competition proposal, the author’s attitude cannot be understood unless the observer is familiar with the problematic context of the Salon. A certain clue that the work deals with the subject of contemporary art (painting) can be found in the image of a blank canvas. Further multiplication of the “image within image” is planned through collaboration of Matić and Kovačiček where this painting is to take the central position in a new performative/spatial situation. Such consideration, whether it will be realized or not, clearly shows that Matić is an artist who bases his thought, regardless of medium, on the tradition of pluralism of postmodern culture and art. Stylistically speaking, Untitled continues the series of paintings created two years ago entitled Before the Leap. This is the reason for exhibiting some of the works from that series at this exhibition. These are large canvases showing different people in their sleep. However, the title reveals the fact that it is just a temporal segment only appearing to be static. Movement or leap, conscious or not, is inevitable and therefore immanent to all the scenes. This shows one of the most interesting segments of these paintings – depicting relation between the static and active, controlled and free. The subject matter is transferred from the motif to the technique itself. The paintings were created with combination of painted blotches and direct dripping of paint onto a canvas. Matić combines completely controlled painting with the uncertain final result of a freer technique. Depicted motifs, although always recognizable, often remain at a borderline of complete disintegration of form. The final result is an unusual painterly balance between the two opposing approaches.

Mitar Matić is not a painter of grand gesture, strong emotions or strictly programmed concepts. His paintings attract with the seeming simplicity which, through closer observation, reveal a very interesting way of transposition of contemporary moment into a visual language. He looks into and depicts dynamics of relation between the defined quality and the freedom of research. In doing so, it is obvious that the true purpose and joy of creation lies in the process itself, rather than in pretentious notion of giving the final and ideal solution.

Jasminka Babić


Mitar Matić was born in 1981 in Rijeka. In 2000 he graduated sculpture design from the School of Applied Arts and Design in Rijeka. In 2005 he graduated from the Painting Department, class of prof. Gorki Žuvela from the Arts Academy, University of Split. He has been a member of Croatian Association of Artists Rijeka since 2007 and Croatian Association of Artists Zagreb since 2011. He lives and works in Rijeka.