Antun Masle, one of the most important painters from Dubrovnik, is celebrated for his distinctive artistic style that has made a lasting impact on the world of art. A key figure in the Dubrovnik coloristic circle, Masle’s work is characterized by his unique blend of southern expressionism, Fauvist principles, and art brut elements.
Early Years and Education
Antun Masle was born in 1919 in Orašac, a small village near Dubrovnik. He described his birthplace as a land of abundant Mediterranean foliage and olive trees, with blue seas and clear skies, which would later play a significant role in shaping his artistic vision.
In 1942, Masle graduated with a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
Throughout his career, Masle’s art was heavily influenced by his Mediterranean upbringing, and he often sought to convey his sense of belonging to this specific region in his work. Drawing inspiration from his surroundings, Masle developed a unique coloristic style that blended southern expressionism, Fauvist principles, and art brut elements. This distinctive approach would come to define his artwork and solidify his place in art history.
Personal Life and Relationships
Masle’s personal life was deeply intertwined with his artistic practice. His relationships with family and friends, as well as his connection to the natural world, were central themes in his work. In his paintings, Masle sought to capture the essence of his native Orašac, depicting the village as a primeval place that embodied the values he held most dear. His wife Mile with whom he shared the passion for art, was a frequent inspiration for his paintings.
The Art of Antun Masle: A Journey Through his Creative World
A recurring theme in Masle’s paintings is the depiction of his beloved Orašac. He portrayed the village at the foot of the mountain, often devoid of people but teeming with life through the presence of cypress trees and lush vegetation. These landscape paintings evoke a sense of harmony between man and nature, allowing viewers to imagine the daily life that takes place within the village.
Portraits: Capturing the Human Spirit
In addition to his landscape paintings, Antun Masle was also known for his exceptional talent in portraiture. His portraits are characterized by their vibrant use of colour, reminiscent of Fauvist principles, and their ability to capture the essence of the subject. Through his portraits, Masle explored the human spirit, delving into the complexities of emotion and the importance of interpersonal relationships.
Still Life’s: The Beauty of the Mundane
Another significant aspect of Masle’s art is his still life paintings, which showcase his mastery of colour and composition. In these works, Masle transformed ordinary objects into extraordinary works of art, highlighting the beauty and significance of the mundane. His still life’s often featured everyday items such as flowers, fruits, and household objects, imbuing them with a sense of life and vitality.
Color: The Heart of Masle’s Art
At the core of Antun Masle’s artistic practice was his profound understanding of colour. His paintings are defined by their rich, vibrant hues, which he used to evoke emotion and create a sense of depth in his works. Masle’s approach to colour was heavily influenced by Fauvist principles, which championed the use of bold, unmodulated colours to express feeling and create a sense of harmony.
Technique: From Fauvism to Art Brut
Throughout his career, Masle’s artistic technique evolved as he experimented with different styles and approaches. Early in his career, his work was heavily influenced by Fauvism, resulting in paintings characterized by their bold use of colour and simplified forms. However, in his later years, Masle began to incorporate elements of art brut into his work, embracing a more raw and instinctive approach to painting.
The Lasting Legacy of Antun Masle
Over the years, Antun Masle’s paintings have been showcased in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both in Croatia and internationally. These exhibits have helped to solidify his reputation as one of the foremost painters of his generation and have introduced his work to a global audience. Antun Masle’s contribution to the world of art is undeniable. His distinctive style, which blended southern expressionism, Fauvism, and art brut elements, has left a lasting impact on the art world and continues to inspire future generations of artists. By capturing the essence of his native Orašac and exploring themes of human relationships, nature, and the beauty of the everyday, Masle’s paintings remain timeless works of art that continue to captivate viewers to this day.
The impact of Antun Masle’s work can be felt in the contemporary art world, as his unique approach to colour and form continues to inspire artists today. His influence can be seen in the work of numerous painters, who have adopted elements of his style in their own practice.
Most of his artwork are in the ownership of Masle’s daughters Brigita and Dolores, who generously share them with the public whenever the occasion occurs, giving an insight to their father’s life that is precious for the understanding of this remarkable artist. In 2022 his work was crowned with thus far mos comphrehensive monographs by the author Igor Zidić, published by the Modern Art Gallery Dubrovnik.
Photo credit: www.antunmasle.com