Exhibitions

Exhibitions
Toni Franković
6.2. - 17.2.2013

Recent Paintings

In addition to nature and seasonal changes in vegetation, recent
paintings and drawings by Toni Franović are related to
motifs that have been largely transplanted from the area of
traditional easel painting to the media of photography, artistic
ambiance and land-art, while in the medium of painting they
are only diffidently present in continental and Mediterranean
landscapes. This is undeniably due to the theoretical attitude
that the notion of beautyhas largely been banished from
painting in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Motifs of
flowers and vegetation are viewed with suspicion as a type of
painterly provincialism that wants to please the beholder.

This attitude is being increasingly refuted because hedonism,
color, contemplativeness and splendor have grandly
and inexorably returned to painting. Recent painting of this
type in its “intimacy signifies the return of color, the subtle
suggestion of form, providing the circumstances for clear-
eyed painting, the principle of saper vedere, instead of
saper construire, emphasizing the value of the material and
structure,”1 i.e., returning to the origins of the intimate
painting from the 1930s and 1940s.

So far, in Toni Franović’s work we have been able to follow a
stylistic line of expressionist origins through an emphasis
on color values and the construction of compositional relationships
in a picture using a thick black line. In the
painter’s new works, he has retained the croquis approach
to motif, even when painting in acrylic, although the surface
of the drawing or painting is never so dynamically agitated
as to provoke irritation. The equilibrium between
Franović’s expressionistic vocabulary and the intimate atmosphere
of his observation of nature leads us to the thesis
that “intimacy is not a stylistic category but, instead of the
stylistic or morphological determinants implied by this
term, we mean a certain state of mind in Croatian painting.”
2 However, in new works a certain morphological-spiritual
shift of unprecedented range has occurred.

The register of painterly themes and motifs has not changed
but for the first time a rather disintegrated landscape appears
that in some of the works leads to surrealistic impulses,
while in the other direction toward the
hallucinatory landscapes of modern American graffiti-art or
even tribal painting traditions. Every painting or drawing
has undoubtedly been created in a specific, elated state of
consciousness, at a moment when it is difficult to separate
the external incentive to create from the hidden, inner impulse,
in which the motif is merely a well-masked alibi for
the transmission of the artist’s stream of consciousness to a
canvas or sheet of paper. Together with all the intimate-realistic
references in the painterly world of Toni Franović,
his new works are increasingly hermetic and autoreferential,
as if the artist is hiding behind the many faces of nature
in a resourceful and skillful metamorphosis of stylistic variations—
a heresy in contemporary Croatian painting for
which we can only forgive Ferdinand Kulmer.

Even when we are being ostensibly benignly bombarded by
the glowing colors of some wild southern region from Franović’s
canveses, in them are is always concealed that
which only to the artist isthe artist’s private the cataclysmic
and simultaneously decadent melancholy of the South,
while in the cold, black-and-white winter dying is the positively
intoned pulsation of a new awakening and renewal.

Iva Körbler

Translated by Margaret Casman-Vuko

Notes:
1 Domac-Ceraj, Smiljka: Intimizam u hrvatskom slikarstvu(exhibition catalogue),
Moderna galerija, Zagreb, 2009; 6
2 Ibid.,7

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