Alison Jacques presents the first exhibition in the United Kingdom of the Croatian sculptor, Branko Vlahović (b. 1924, Bjelovar, Croatia; d. 1979, Zagreb, Croatia). The exhibition comprises of work from the 1960s, bringing together key examples of Vlahović’s plaster sculptures alongside large-scale, monochrome drawings.
© The Estate of Branko Vlahović, Zagreb. Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London
It is only recently that Vlahović is recognised as a pioneer of Minimalism in Croatia. His work is an example of important Minimalist sculpture produced outside of the dominant Modernist canon. Without contact with his American peers, Vlahović was independently producing work of a radically reduced sculptural sensibility.
Following a traditional sculptural education, Vlahović’s work gravitated towards pure geometric forms which intentionally negated subject matter. The works in the exhibition are important examples of his small-scale plaster sculptures. Skulptura I, 1963, resembles Soviet, post-war architectural forms; cylindrical in shape, the sculpture comprises of modular stacking parts, punctuated by protruding elements and receding voids. Again, Skulptura VI, 1963, is a modular structure that evokes architectural forms but avoids any literal references.
The sculptures are shown alongside large-scale drawings that, although relate, do not function as preparatory drawings for Vlahović’s sculpture. They formalise his sculptural thinking in two-dimensions and bear the structural, hard-edges of the sculptures but lack the tactile materiality of plaster. Works such as Untitled (1965-66) resemble technical drawings or production plans, a structure composed purely of diagonal linear marks which surround rectangular voids.
The exhibition follows Vlahović’s inclusion in the seminal exhibition Other Primary Structures (2014) at The Jewish Museum, New York. The exhibition was a reworking of Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors (1966), also at the same museum. This brought together, for the first time, artists whose work formed the foundation of what we would now term Minimalism. Other Primary Structures, revisited the exhibition with a more global perspective, counteracting the limiting geographic parameters.-