Artworks in the Collection

Peasant Woman from Crna Trava (1941)

“I was drawn to painting very early, by my love for people,” Zora Petrović used to say. “This boundless love, which I nurture, undiminished even now, determined my path in painting at the very beginning. That is why I do not paint landscapes; they are, regardless of their beauty, more deceptive, shallow and less alive than man. I try to give my figures a full intensity of experience, so that they exude humanity, strength, a gentle expression, without any overtones of sentimentality, so that all figures are similar in purity and yet different in their individuality of experience. I paint them regardless of whether they are little girls, young women, old men or women– always as if I caught them in motion, in full swing, spontaneously, the way I felt them at that moment.” This love for the individual she painted is also noticeable in the portrait Peasant Woman from Crna Trava. The model before her was not only an incentive for the arrangement of coloured surfaces on the canvas, but the artist was trying to understand her as a person and represent her as an individual. She possessed the ability momentarily to observe the lines and shapes which express the character of the portrayed person and to reproduce them quickly and precisely on the canvas. She preferred long portraits, down to the knees, since a person’s character is not reflected only on the face, but in the entire body posture. A whole series of portraits was done in this way. These portraits were characterized by the central position of the models with arms folded in their laps. Until the 1950s the poetics of these portraits belonged to the technique of poetic realism, in which the painting is the expression of a direct recording of the visual experience, an intuitive insight into the character of the model and a sincere and spontaneous interpretation of the character.

Zora Petrović