Photographs from 1968 to 2011
Urban and rural landscapes, portraits, peoples' customs and everyday life, among other things, are identified as reference points of Marija Braut᾽s photography. Despite relatively „classical“ repertoire of themes documented by the artist, her photographs are infused with unusual poetry of images that can be experienced over and over again and excite all mental and physical senses. Marina Viculin wrote about Marija Braut in a similar manner: '…her photographs act like a touch of a kiss on a pupil of an eye.' Truly, great is the emotional strength of her work.
Besides possessing indubitable emotional charge recognized even by an inexperienced eye, one could say that, despite the author's activity, which spanned well over forty years, her work is actual and relevant to any time. We could ascribe that to her ability to blend subtly, like a chameleon, with other people lives and studios and photograph intimate moments without excessive posing. Thus, we can see that there is something archetypal about landscapes and human characters that remains recognizable and unchanged even today. Therefore, after looking at her photographs, one can realise the notion that history repeats itself in similar intervals, as well as that life goes on in circles.
This exhibition presents photographs selected from the body of seventy photographies owned by the Gallery of Fine Arts, partly bought and partly donated in 2011 by Morpurgo bookstore. They reflect the circularity of life manifested in Marija Braut's photographs. Exhibition display comprises three parts, each reflecting various stages in human life, landscape and society. Their structure, along with the metaphorical introduction, plot and resolution, depicts specific developmental paths. Photographs show us human portraits, urban and rural landscapes, as well as traces of societal past and present that remind us of everyday life that is often invisible or forgotten by individuals.
Exhibition starts off with a look into the childhood, symbolising the dawn of life, foremostly through the photographs showing children in a carefree and safe environment of their parents or at rest from playing. Portraits, like those of poet Enes Kišević as a young man in his prime caught in the middle of student riots reflect the pinnacle of an individual's life energy. On the other end of the spectre there are photographs of two elderly ladies, the nature of whose gazes is difficult to ascertain. However, one can clearly see they possess determined attitude that comes as a result of vast life experience.
Central part of the exhibition display is based on the thematic unit comprising rural and urban landscapes, probably the largest part of Marija Braut's work. Artworks are exhibited in comparative manner that enables „two-way“ approach to the photographs. One can experience artist's unique sensibility by looking at contrasting images that range from tense and dramatic drapery of Velebit scars to the mystical paysages of plains located in the North Croatia. Also this is evident from the „frozen“ scenography of urban and rural landscapes with the related social customs.
Peace, war and transition – these are the degrees of societal (un)stability used to describe the past and the present, the reality of the moment we find ourselves in. Long photographical activity of Maria Braut enabled her to document and testify about the turbulent developmental path that we have gone through so far. In some of her photographs, one can see that the time stopped at some moment: the war took the most illustrative elements out of the photographs and turned them into a grotesque version of itself. We would not be mistaken if we said that the images depicting consequences of war are the artist's most powerful work. Conveniently, the cycle is closed by representations of Split as a symptommatical place of collective lostness in the time of a new found „freedom“.
The selected photographs define nearly 50-year time frame. In the analogy with the exhibition display, this may represent a significant part of one's life and artistic activity. This exhibition includes most of the familiar places of the author's work. It never took too long for Marija Braut to win over the audience. She frequently photographed images on the basis of intuition and many times it happened that spectators fell in love with her work even before they could comprehend what was on the photographs. We hope that you, dear visitors, will fall in love with her just like we did.
Božo Kesić and Antonija Mihovilović
Marija Braut was born in 1929 in Celje and passed away in 2015 in Zagreb. She attended elementary school in her native town and the rest of her education in Zagreb. After high school graduation she enrolled at the Faculty of Arhitecture, but never completed it. In 1967 she took up photography under the tutelage of Tošo Dabac. She held her first exhibition in 1969 at the Student Centre Gallery in Zagreb along with Petar Dabac. She worked in many galleries and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. For the latter, she made artists' portraits and photographs for catalogues. After 1972, she became a freelance artist. She was also known for her work with the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, Zagreb Youth Theater (ZKM), Gavella Drama Theater, Kerempuh Satirical Theater and Dubrovnik Summer Festival. She exhibited at more than one houndred solo and group exhibitions. Marija Braut's photos were published in daily newspapers, magazines and publications in domain of fine arts, arhitecture and theatre. She was a member of ULUPUH (Croatian Association of Artists in Applied Art) since 1969 and Photoclub Zagreb and ZUH (Croatian Community of Artists) since 1972.