Exhibition: Ivan Medar – A Life with a Photo Camera
A Life with a Photo Camera
Aug 2 – 26, 2018
Curator: Fedor Vučemilović
Klub HDLU – Home of Croatian Photography
Medar was an artist who knew how to look at and whose thinking was focused on the essence of the object in a pure visual sense – and only occasionally in some other, figurative connotations. This is undoubtedly where the art-based documentary quality of his photography stems from, as well as the beauty of black-and-white surface of his photographs, in which there is always a feeling of depth – be it in a broad landscape with some details at its distant edges, or the intimacy of a portrait that reveals what is lurking underneath the surface of the visible, suggesting the multifacetedness of the living human soul glimpsing through skin folds or a sparkle in the eye. A distinctive feature of his photographs is that everything in them (we say “in“ and not “on“ them on purpose) exists in its livingness – from a human face and figure, human or animal movement, to that Vidrić-like unfolding of nature or its petrified or frozen forms. The eye of Medar’s camera was his own, unalienated. With this eye he caressed the observed, immersed himself in it with a certain joy about what is seen and experienced, and this is where the tenderness of his photo camera stems from, the lyricism in its approaches and positions. The soul of the artist is discretely present in the oeuvre of the camera, of the artist who was always personally engaged in his object. Motifs are diverse, imbued with the roughness of Macedonian vistas or the nostalgia of Dubrovnik images and Mediterranean landscapes and scenes, all the way to that textural sfumato in “Krpanje mreže II“ (Repairing a Fishing Net II) or two powerful vistas of Hrvatsko zagorje. Then there is a gift, in the sense of a permanent pilgrimage to his native City that probably taught him how to love life, the modest, simple one, full of memories like a lyrical walk. Theatre was Medar’s special life’s preoccupation; more precisely, the national theatre in his native Zagreb. This was where his camera discretely captured encounters and scenes from plays, but above all, it froze in time the personalities of theatre artists; a series of Medar’s portraits from – we can now freely say the history of the Croatian National Theatre – is a key artistic contribution to documenting our more recent cultural events. From the surface of the human face on a theatrical portrait to the purest photo-graphics of his winter landscapes, Medar virtuously governed the elements of light in the sense of dramatic visual effect of the selected photographic motif. And he was indeed a master in this respect, the one who created an oeuvre of permanent value.
Biography – Ivan Medar
Ivan Medar, born in 1911 in Zagreb, where he also completed primary school. His parents were not able to send him to high school, but instead he did an apprenticeship with Andrija Lončar, a merchant in Zagreb, where he learned the tricks of the trade in the period between 1923 and 1927. After the apprenticeship he finished a private trade school “Merkur“ in Zagreb, 1927-1928. He became a member of Fotoklub Zagreb (Zagreb Photoclub) in 1939, which contributed to transforming his initial interest in photography into a profession he practiced until the end of his working life. From 1946 he actively participated in exhibitions in Yugoslavia and abroad and received numerous awards and acknowledgements for his outstanding photographic achievements. In 1947, “Tehnika i sport“, nowadays Narodna tehnika, sent him to the Šamac-Sarajevo Youth Work Action as an instructor of photographic techniques, after which he decided to become a photographer. In 1950 he started working as a photojournalist in Fotoslužba Hrvatske, later in Agencija za fotodokumentaciju (The Photographic Documentation Agency), where he stayed until his retirement in 1972. In 1952 he passed the certified professional photographer exam. He did an internship in Reputin Photo Atelier in Zagreb. In 1953 he passed the exam to become a master photographer. On 1 March 1956 he became a member of the Croatian Association of Artists of Applied Arts, and a member of Artiste Federation Internationale de l’art Photographique, i.e. The International Federation of Photographic Art, on 2 March 1957 in Bern. He became an honorary member of CIP-CLUB International de Photographic, Aveyron, France in 1959.
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