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The Božidar Rašica Collection


The special Collection of Božidar Rašica (Ljubljana, 1912 – Zagreb, 1992), Zagreb architect, scenographer and painter, has been established in 2004, by a donation of professor dr. Vera Marsić, an architect from Zagreb who administered to a will of late Uršula, author's wife. This generous and non-conditional will has enriched Rijeka Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art with an art oeuvre of one of the key creators of Croatian post-war modern architecture, an innovator of theatre scenography and - which is of the biggest relevance to MMSU - one of the predecessors and cofounders of Exat 51, an important cult group in a history of the Croatian visual arts of the 20th century.
                                                                                                                    
The donated oeuvre of Božidar Rašica encompasses a chronological period of some 60 years (1939 to 1998) and includes all the available drawing (pen, felt pen, ink, coal, crayon) and painting (watercolour, crayon, gouache, oil) techniques with over two thousands works on paper, as well as around hundred sketch pads, conceptual and working sketches for posters, theatre and film scenographic designs.
 
Besides all of his inventive work as an architect and a scenographer, Rašica was a full-blooded drawer who, throughout his entire life, reflected trough painting and recorded, in hundreds of drawings, all the surrounding sensations (landscapes, panoramas, human figures, still natures). Since Rašica was also a great colourist, many of his paintings were enriched by a powerful colourist expression in techniques of watercolour, gouache or oil.
 
Regarding Rašica's formal education and professional commitment as an urbanist, architect and scenographer, therefore  a planner and builder, a constructor of buildings in space, most of his drawings are however not  based on the expected geometric, linear or constructivist features. From his earliest youth, Rašica has declared himself as a painter of Mediterranean landscape, inclined to strong colourist effects and expressionist charge to which he returned later on in life, after his Exat-phase on the edge of abstraction. As the oldest member of Exat 51, Rašica started painting before he joined the group back in the early 1930s when, as a 17 years old he was tutored by his uncle, a Dubrovnik painter Marko Rašica. This was also a way in which he could, as early as possible, arrive to new compositional and expressive solutions that, already in the middle of the 1940s  gradually brought him to the first steps into two-dimensionality, towards abandoning a classical perspective, and to the cubist volume analysis. Around the 1950s he arrived to abstraction, albeit not always exclusively constructive nor geometric in nature. He was the only one of the Exat 51 members, who cultivated otherwise very controlled and rational compositions, whose artworks contain a certain lyrical charge and warmth, underlined by a pigment.

Rašica most often painted littoral landscapes of his milieus: Zagreb, Dubrovnik and islands, Paris, landscapes of Istria (olive grooves, dry stone-walled field, marinas) and panoramas of picturesque small towns (Vrsar). His frequent subjects include architecture in landscape (Sv. Petar u šumi,  homestead). Through almost half of century of creation, he kept repeating few motifs (sea and islands, small ports, homesteads, trees...) in all the periods of day and all the year's seasons, in diverse climate conditions, various techniques and dimensions.
 
Mostly absent from this paintings, a human figure sometimes appears as a mere decorative addition. Despite their numerosity, his artworks comprise but scarce self-portraits and portraits of family and friends. These few portraits are of an earlier date, smaller dimensions, painted in unpretentious, sketch-like manner with accentuated colourism.
 
Daina Glavočić, M.A.
senior curator

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