Artworks in the Collection

Aleksandar KUMRIĆ
Boats on the Danube (1942)


If the painter had not written down the date on this canvas with his own hand, one could easily date it several decades back. The main reason for this was the very manner of the artist’s approach to the theme his favourite motif: a view from the river bank. The theme itself allows for the manifestation of impressionistic effects of light refraction and the breaking up of the colour spectrum, an unusual interest in a painting which was created almost in the middle of the twentieth century. The painter was consistent to his usual role models, the French painters of light on water, Monet and Sisley.
Due to his unique colouristic play, he achieved the impression of shimmering light, permeated with the colours of the river boats and the blue of the sky, on the narrow strip of water in the foreground. Even with the knowledge that light effects represent the artist’s primary interest, it is clear that it was not the only thing he wanted to communicate with this painting. The boats he painted, extraordinarily numerous considering the war, like a festive regatta, one after the other are sailing in the same direction, as if in a film-like motion within a frame. The painter wanted to use their movement to suggest the movement of the water, the inexorable flow of the mighty river, which not even the dreary war years could impede its course towards its estuary. The cheerfulness of the sight is disrupted by a complete absence of human beings: the boats are hauntingly empty, which suggests that something is amiss, that some evil destiny has shrouded the scene. The general impression of unease is supported by two small boats, hopelessly stranded on the bank, with their prows facing the observer.

Aleksandar Kumrić