Dalibor Parac – the Modern Gallery Donation
The exhibition “Dalibor Parać – the Modern Gallery Donation” is the first big exhibition of the artist’s work of a retrospective type since the show put on in the Art Pavilion in Zagreb in 1999. In December 2015, the Modern Gallery entered into a deed of donation agreement with the artist’s son, Dr Zoran Parać, in which 154 oils on canvas, drawings, watercolours and gouaches were placed in the permanent holdings of the Modern Gallery as well as 213 bronze medals and plaster medal prototypes. The donation covers a series of classic works of the artist, the Modern Gallery being lastingly enriched by the oeuvre of one of greatest Croatian painters of the South, of the Mediterranean landscape, as well as of the theme of the female nude in a landscape. In a critically presented selection of the extensive donation, curators Iva Körbler (paintings) and Tatijana Garjelić (medals) included 94 oil paintings and gouaches and 43 medals.
Dalibor Parać (Solin 1921 – Zagreb, 2009), Croatian painter and medallist. He enrolled in the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in 1940, and attended the painting classes of Omer Mujadžić and Krsto Hegedušić, graduating from the class of Ljubo Babić in 1948. In 1950 he completed a graduate course with Ljubo Babić and then became an assistant in the master workshop of Krsto Hegedušić (1950-1952).
He taught drawing and script in the applied art and design school in Zagreb from 1952 to 1961, of which he was director until he left to take up the position of assistant professor in the Academy of Fine Arts in 1961. Here he taught drawing and painting in the printmaking section, and later in the painting division, and was dean from 1971 to 1974. In 1986 he retired, but kept his studio at the Academy of Fine Arts until 2009.
He was a member of the Forum Gallery group in Zagreb (1976-1993). He won the annual main City of Zagreb Prize in 1977 and the Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.
Today we count Dalibor Parać as a genuine heir of the tradition of Ignjat Job, Petar Lubarda, Oton Postružnik, Ivo Dulčić, Antun Motika and, in particular, of Oton Gliha and Frano Šimunović in the context of the conceptual mythography of landscape. The Dalibor Parać Donation, featuring the work of a poetically and morphologically distinct artist in the context of domestic landscape painting, was a well-founded reason for a new retrospective, based on a critical selection of the artist’s legacy, with a cross-section of all stylistic phases, from the first half of the 1950s to the last paintings from 2004.
“We let ourselves be guided not only by the current donation but by the idea that time has subtracted nothing from this painting oeuvre, has not diminished its topicality, value and stylistic authenticity, has even in fact strengthened the artist’s exclusivist position of pure painting in motifs of the mythically dreamed of homescape. In the manner of lyrical abstraction, but beyond any kind of stylistic determinism between abstraction and reduced figuration, impressionist or expressionist – or gestural – Dalibor Parać set new parameters in the painting of landscape, creating in the last few decades of his life works in which the life study and the landscape are a single inseparable unit. He painted the seaside landscapes of Brač, Kozjak, Kaštela and Solin, and the slopes of Klis by heart, from memory, with a particular feeling for colour and light in the painting. Criticism has often pointed out the artist’s hymnic and sensual feeling for the painting in the manner of “abstract impressionism” (Zdenko Rus), the vibrant palette of which in the artist’s already quite advanced years was translated into a very uncommonly powerful, almost fluorescent, mix of shades of pink, blue and yellow, completely outside the accepted canons of the tonal palette of the Parać generation of Croatian painters” (from the preface of Iva Körbler).
“As well as a respectable oeuvre of paintings, Parać created a well-received medal-making oeuvre, created between 1999 and 2003. In the Parać Bequest, which was looked after until the donation was made by Zoran Parać, the son of the artist, there were 219 works of the medallist, 213 of which were donated to the Modern Gallery. The donation consists of cast bronzes, on the whole two-sided portrait medals, plaster prototypes and negatives of the obverses and reverses of the bronze works. Some medals were made in several versions or castings. Most of them are signed, while just a few have a date. The exhibition will present 43 bronze medals.
The medals of Dalibor Parać are an emblematic memento of the artist. On the commemoratives there are portraits of men, women and children; faces from the artist’s family, circle of friends, associates and fellow painters, sculptors, art historians, architects, directors, academicians, musicians, physicians, jurists, many public and distinguished figures from the past, from politics, admirals and seafarers. Most of the persons portrayed are artists and winners of the Vladimir Nazor Prize, a major Croatian national prize for the best achievements in art, one of which was awarded to Parać himself in 1993, for lifetime achievement. Parać also portrayed the artists who were gathered around the Zagreb Forum Gallery. Also common on the medals are participants in the anti-fascist struggle in World War II. His favourite theme was admirals related to Croatian history. These were important persons for him, inspiring him to a masterly expansion of his visual expression and an inquisitive recourse to a new medium in the last decade of his artistic work, after his prolific career as a painter” (from the preface of Tatijana Gareljić).
Photo: Goran Vranić©Moderna galerija, Zagreb