Artworks in the Collection

Self-portrait (1946)

“When I didn’t have a model, I would often paint myself. And although I always paint it anew, I am never much different. I always remain young”, said Zora Petrović before her exhibition in 1958. In her numerous self-portraits the signs of ageing are not really visible, as they are on Rembrandt’s, for instance, but one can accurately follow the changes in her work, namely her increasingly deeper involvement into the problem of the medium and her growing independence from artistic conventions. The Self-portrait from Pavle Beljanski’s collection differs from Zora Petrović’s other selfportraits probably because it was meant for the collector from the very beginning, hence a degree of representativeness, apparent not only in emphasized vitality of the act of painting but also in the artist’s own vitality. There is a partial indication of the usual expressiveness of her self-portraits in the painting In the Studio depicting her with Pavle Beljanski and Nedeljko Gvozdenović. In the painting they are connected both psychologically, through mutual conversation, and compositionally, through horizontal lines which formulate the space they share. The space in Zora Petrović’s painting is shaped by the vertical of her upright and shifted figure as well as by the vertical lines of the raised palette, the canvas she is painting on and the model’s naked body. This difference and dedication to work lay at the heart of her communication with the world regardless of the loud cordiality she was remembered for. Zora Petrović’s later self-portraits had more personal intonations, especially those from the 1950s, where, contrary to the paintings created at that time, the inner world of the painter was depicted in only a few tones of colours without gloss, often protected but also isolated from its surroundings with a heavy gray surface like a fence.

Zora Petrović