Artworks in the Collection

Aleksandar KUMRIĆ
Gutted Catfish (1954)

In his transition from impressionist precepts, which dominate the thematic and visual concept of the painting, to abstract paintings of the 1960s, Kumrić’s work in this period was characterized by a reduced range of colours and a more pronounced tonal unity of the painting. He painted the canvas entitled Gutted Catfish in such a palette, where the dominant warm reddish-pink tones intensify the unpleasantness of the painted scene. Still-lifes with dead animals are not rare in the national history of modern art. Let us remember Petar Lubarda’s Slaughtered Lamb (1940) from the prewar period and Petar Omčikus’s Still-life with an Octopus (1950) from the post-war period. In Kumrić’s painting, as in Lubarda’s, there is a symbolic dimension. While the Slaughtered Lamb is justifiably interpreted as a shocking indication of the horrors World War II would bring, the Gutted Catfish could be linked with the universal idea of suffering thanks to the details of the composition itself. Contrary to the still-lifes with such a theme, where only dead animals can be seen, just objects and no trace of the one who did the deed, the cleaver stuck into the table in Kumrić’s painting is a witness to the presence of man. Also, the cross-like form created by the wooden stick and the backbone, although with a practical justification, has a symbolic meaning in the painter’s interpretation, and in the entire context of the painting, as it implies the idea of an executioner (the cleaver) and a victim (the cross), that is, the causal structure of the world. Perhaps Kumrić’s message carries some irony as well: is suffering reserved exclusively for humankind?

Aleksandar Kumrić