Artworks in the Collection

The Crayfish (1936)

“On this occasion, I would like to ask you to lend me two of your paintings, Flowers and The Crayfish, all paintings would come with frames,” Lubarda wrote to Beljanski in 1938. This was for an exhibition planned for Rome in autumn that year and which was never realized for unknown reasons. His wish to exhibit this particular piece spoke of the quality of the collection. The Crayfish ushered in the mature phase of Lubarda’s pre-war style and revealed to us some new steps in the development of the visual structure of the painting, hinted at in the Montenegrin landscapes which Lubarda painted between 1934 and 1936. He already exhibited a tendency towards the abstraction of his objects, and the crawfish lent itself well to such a transformation due to its discrete form. The background and the objects are presented in a choreography of brushstrokes and lines, which sustains the boundaries of objects. By introducing clear colours (terracotta, on the crab’s feelers), the local tone and the “plight” of the object were made abstract, which foreshadowed Lubarda’s post-war opus. In the same way as we can notice elements of the abstract in The Crayfish, in Lubarda’s works painted after 1951, abstraction is characterized by an element of reality. In this painting we can see to what extent the painter succeeded, as he himself said, in mastering the primary matter, i.e. the objectivity itself. While at the beginning of his studies in Paris (1926–1930) he adopted the formal expressionistic approach to the subject, in the mid-thirties, he transferred the expressiveness from colours and broad brushstrokes to an inner tension in the painting, which can be seen in this example. He achieved this tension in his expression by reducing the colours to a choreography of the brightness value of grayish-green tones accentuated by pure colours, reducing the motif and simplifying the form, which were all steps towards his associative abstraction.

Petar Lubarda