Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
Paysage Vide (1960) is a work painted in Paris at a time when Zoran Music's art was torn between his figurative "personal truth" on one hand, and the "informalism" and the different versions of lyric abstraction, action painting and tachism which reflected the existential philosophy of that period through a compromise between the body and the artistic act. In fact, at the beginning of the 1960s Zoran Music combined the existentialist credo with his predilection for the landscape genre, a silent landscape, close to the idea of death, where noise and movement do not exist and everything becomes the expression of the universal and the eternal. They are anonymous landscapes with no apparent reference or location, although always linked to the artist's experience, his travels, his memories or his stays in Castile, or in Dalmatia, whose wilderness, ancient monasteries and fantastic mosaics left so many marks on him, or in Venice, where he discovered that East and West meet: "It was in Venice that I discovered the East. I, who came precisely from the East, found in Venice East and West mixed together so closely that I understood that there was my tradition and my truth".
After initial contacts with the art of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Derain, Bonnard and Picasso, which he came across in the 1930s in the Zagreb Academy, Zoran Music discovered that his particular idiosyncrasy, his Slav origins (he always acknowledged his immersion in the Austro-Hungarian culture) were closer to the Oriental tradition of Byzantium and of an allusive and reserved art, than to Western tradition, which the artist considered linked to the Roman heritage, with a mixture of baroque and dramatic qualities.
This is the origin of his taste for a flat painting, without perspective or volume, the origin of his use of earth, ochre and dark colours with little texture, seeking the natural transparency of the canvas, prepared with size, on which the medium was absorbed only superficially, in the belief that "too much medium takes away spirituality". And it is also the origin of Music's predisposition to reduce his landscapes to the essential, with nothing superfluous, no masks, in a search for the "interior" and "invariable" qualities in them.
As Music said on one occasion: "Switzerland is beautiful, and so are the northern landscapes covered with trees, flowers and greenery. But this does not move me. What I love is the semi-desert landscape which does not change with the seasons, which remains similar, eternal, like a Biblical landscape. This attracts me, and I do not know why."
Paysage Vide reflects specifically his fascination with the land of Dalmatia, with the immense stony expanses interrupted by small rounded mounds, like barren hills, monotonous, poor, dry landscapes, with small oases of reddish earth. For Music, these are like an Eden, closed to the world but not to man and to his existential anguish and, in short, to the artist himself: "Finding once more the landscape of my childhood, I found myself again. I understood to what extent that land was my land. That country imposed itself on me, and I have tried to translate it. To the point of becoming my most familiar, fatal, almost obsessive theme."
Anna Maria Guasch