Artworks in the Collection

Jovan BIJELIĆ
Bather (1929)


Two paintings by Jovan Bijelić, the Lady in Blue and Nude were particularly noticed among the pieces exhibited at the Second Autumn Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures in Belgrade in 1929. His contemporaries thought that they stood out because of their “great concept and richness of colour.” Monumental in content, composition and format, the Bather was to be appreciated as one of Bijelić’s most successful pieces. This was undoubtedly further encouraged by the artist’s self-assessment which he gave to Beljanski in confidence: “I have painted much in my life. But, it seems to me
that I only painted about twenty good pieces and this is one of the twenty. And do you know how it came into existence? One day this model came to my studio (a professional model by the name of Danica Kapriš, author’s note). I was really, really ecstatic. I grabbed a canvas and some paint. In an instant, I had forgotten everything I had learnt, everything I had seen and tore this painting out of myself.” The moment when this piece came into existence, at the very end of the third decade, represents a stylistic turning point in Bijelić’s opus, and also testifies that the change that was about to take place was not one of discontinuity. His tendency towards a firm modelling of form delicately started to give way to a distinct facture, freer strokes and increasingly accentuated colours, indicating precisely the direction which the artist’s contemplations were to take. By “being a small-scale version of Bijelić’s opus” this piece has gained a prominent place in its creator’s entire production.

Jovan Bijelić