Colours Expressed Through Words and Words Expressed Through Colours – Layers of Reality and Illusion in the Same Oneiric Fairy Tale
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dubrovnik born painter Antun Masle
Antun Masle – a painter holding a bird and his homeland's sun in his bosom
„I was born in the village of Orašac, Dubrovnik County, on 1 September 1919 (during grape harvesting). My mother was Marija Litrica and my father Gjivo Masle, the shoemaker. My father had a gift for art and literature, and his stories are still fresh in my childhood memory. He loved beautiful and spiritual things. My mother was a rational person, while my father was a dreamer and visionary. I inherited my appearance from my mother and my personality from my father...“ (Antun Masle, from his Diary).
Through this autobiographical quote, the renowned Dubrovnik and Croatian painter, writer and poet, Antun Masle (1919 -1967), reveals the essence of his art.
Masle had an extraordinary and complex creative personality. He observed the environment in which he lived and worked, as well as the motifs springing from it - such as his native Orašac, the swaggering cock, gentle lambs, playful horses, the cheerful masked people who impressed him, his wife Mila whom he adored, the angels from his dreams, quite ordinary bottles in the cupboard, fish, cherries on the table, and the magnificent everyday world touched and ennobled by dreaminess which delighted and inspired him - with the eyes of a boy who found it difficult (or, perhaps refused) to grow up and lose all that beauty. The paintings he made and the verses and notes which arose from his observations radiate with beauty, harmlessness and love. In his emotional (and dreamlike) analysis of the perceived reality, Masle lovingly embraced the things around him, and gladly and permanently presented both himself and others with the impressions and reflections he had experienced.
Although modest and self-denying, Masle was a pioneer in many ways, particularly in the mid-1950s, when he - on the basis of Fauvism, Expressionism, Art Brut and children's art expression - created a special variant of Colourism, characterised by his own expressionist, art brut and poetic charge. At that moment, it was a fine art language completely different from the language of his contemporaries, which made Masle an exceptional and extremely significant person in both Dubrovnik and Croatian painting at the time. Masle not only made his paintings, but lived them too. That is why they are so spontaneous and so vitally true.
Antun Masle died prematurely, in the prime of his creative life. Nevertheless, his painting (and his poetry) has never ceased to grow. Quite the contrary: the more time passes, the more it continues to grow.