Autentické príbehy, nadčasové témy

Matko Trebotić

Matko Trebotić

Matko Trebotić is one of the most extraordinary figures of Croatian modern painting. The charismatic appearance and penetrating intellect of this artist, his personal and uncompromising attitude to the crucial questions of the present, and particularly his creativity and exceptional artistic talent in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation, set design and other artistic disciplines, strengthen his indisputable position of a unique European artist.


Matko Trebotić was born in 1935 at Milna, on the island of Brač. In 1961 he graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Architecture. He has worked as an architect in his native country and in Germany, and has been intensely engaged in visual art from the beginning. After the first successful exhibitions, thanks to his talent he became a “Meisterschüler” in the class of Professor Hermann Schardt at the renowned Folkwang University of Arts in Essen from 1971 to 1972. He became a freelance artist and lived in Düsseldorf for more than ten years. In this period he worked closely with Joseph Beuys, called the uncrowned king of contemporary art. After returning to Croatia, Trebotić settled in Split in 1983, but kept his original Düsseldorf studio as a unique “window into the world”.

Since 1970 Matko Trebotić has had more than one hundred solo and over three hundred group exhibitions in Croatia, Europe and overseas. He has won many major awards, including the Seoul Biennale Award 2000, and created thousands of unique works of art and challenging projects that cross the traditional boundaries between art genres. He is the author of the stage curtains for the theatres in Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka (The Adriatic Triptych), spatial installations and set design for theatre and film. Together with distinguished Croatian and foreign poets, he has produced more than twenty books of poetry and prints. His works are included in numerous private collections, museums and galleries at home and abroad. His oeuvre has been presented in five monographs and several television films.

Trebotić’s works are bursting with incredible energy, freshness as well as mystery. Although the artist was inspired by the ideas of the European avant-garde of the seventies and eighties, the authenticity of the domestic environment and the cultural and artistic background of his birthplace, embodied in his ideas by the famous painter Emanuel Vidović (1870 – 1953), influenced his aesthetic towards the narrative and the sense of balance between the real and the imaginative, the domestic and the universal. He was able to perfectly apply this principle to his small-scale and monumental compositions representing a distinctive form of landscape painting. Although his artistic expression moves towards abstraction, the artist uses the convincing language of symbols and imagery to interpret urgent messages, many of them of social significance. The universal symbol of the cross, fragments of the Glagolitic script, calligraphy, and especially the typical outlines of Croatian and Dalmatian churches and chapels, appear in his splendid abstract paintings as universal archetypal signs reliably elucidating the local memory and authenticity of this area.

The October exhibition of Matko Trebotić in the Savoy Gallery in Bratislava is presenting a unique selection from his recent works under the suggestive name “The Light and the Mystical Space of the Mediterranean”. Two dozens of paintings and a small collection of bronze sculptures introduce the Slovak audience to Trebotić’s concept of life, his major interest in the last few years he has been engaged in with great fervour and dedication. It is his personal confession of his birthplace and the country that is a unique historical and cultural part of ​​the Mediterranean. In Trebotić’s ideas, in his heart and his soul, the Mediterranean is the mythical space where ancient and early Christian history fuse with European modern history. The vivid blue, yellow and white paintings incorporating the details of real fragments and Trebotić’s personal symbols are the embodiment of light. The mysterious volumes of his small-scale bronze sculptures are filled with the intoxicating scent of dark nights and the immense mystical space of the Mediterranean.

After several successful exhibitions held in Vienna, where he was very well received by the public and critics, the exhibition of his works at the Savoy Gallery in Bratislava may well be the start of a new cultural cooperation on a much larger scale.


Mária Horváthová

Photos: Matko Trebotić / Predrag Mandič