BIOGRAPHY

Josip Konta was born in Livno on May 18th, 1946. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Zagreb in 1972, and post-graduated on the studies as an associate in the master class of Prof. Antun Augustinčić from 1972 to 1974.

After three years of work as the director of sculpture foundry with the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, he lives and works as a freelance artist in Zagreb.

Fifty years of his artworks were displayed in numerous individual and joint exhibitions and have found their way in many private collections in Croatia and abroad.


Read the interviews with the artist below.

INTERVIEWS

REVIEWS

INTERVIEWS

Interview with the artist

 

We had a conversation with Mr. Josip Konta, academic sculptor and painter, in his apartment, actually art studio where there are hundreds of sculptures and oil paintings. On the walls there is no more space even for the hanging of a smaller painting. Along the walls there are numerous sculptures from different cycles of creativity of this artist. Our curiosity was kept under control by wary and nervous terrier, guarding works of art for which he is in charge.

 

Thank you for your time. Tell us, how your long artistic path started?

I was born in Livno. As a child in the primary school, I felt the need for artistic expression. And that gave me the will, not only to draw, but to explore color in watercolor technique, even in oil. Later I started doing sculptures in clay and plaster, so I finally decided to go to the High School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo. After graduating from the High School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo, which was then a five-year school, I enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, which I finished within the period, and then I started post-graduate studies with professor Antun Augustinčić and became his assistant. I've been working for some time on a monument of Matija Gubec erected near Oršić castle in Gornja Stubica. After completing two years of postgraduate studies, I came to work in the Art Foundry of ALU, where I was three years head of casting bronze monuments.


Let's go back to the beginning. How a small community accepted your affinity for the artistic expression?

On such a question a man can only give a subjective response. Some from the immediate surroundings have been accepted it some were surprised, some did not believe. If I do something good, they thought someone else made it , and that I purchased it somewhere. Somewhere at the end of primary school, there was an exhibition where they were finally convinced that it was still my work, and they were in the great wonderment.


How has family accepted your selection?

There were five of us, brothers and sisters. I was the youngest and the only one with the affinity for the fine arts. My parents supported me.


How did they comment your artistic affinity?

They did not say anything special. They only wondered how I would live if I just deal with art.


You said five-year Secondary School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo. What was it like, how old were you when you left your home?

I went to this school because it was the best school of applied arts in the former state, I was thirteen. In Sarajevo, there were no academy and education in that school was very similar to the way education at the academy. Morning was the practical work, drawing and modeling, theory was during the afternoon and in the evening there was drawing of the evening act.


Where did you live in Sarajevo?

I was a boarder, I lived in a rented, financially affordable rooms. I liked to be alone because I love to create in peace, and I managed to partially finance myself with my work .


How did you finance the secondary education? Parents or...?

At first I was fully financed by parents. After a while I got a scholarship, and then I, as I mastered the technology of casting and processing of plaster, worked with older, more-established artists as an assistant. For example, for famous sculptor Marijan Kocković I poured casts of his sculptures in plaster. And with Professor Hižar, who was teaching technology of plaster, I went into the business of making replicas of old amphorae that we exhibited and sold in Hotel Esplanade. People could not tell the difference between our replica and the real ancient Roman amphorae. These are jobs that helped me to finance my education.


What happened after high school?

After I graduated high school, I went to Dubrovnik where I poured and carved in stone for the famous sculptor Marijan Kocković. I was in Dubrovnik for four months, and then I went to Zagreb to enroll the academy , where I was the only one in my generation who immediately enrolled.


At that time there were only three academies in this region - in Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade. How was that part of your life?

Nothing special. Work every day, coming to class, just exercise and work. In the morning we had a practice, in the afternoon we had a theory, and in the evening we had a drawing of the evening act. We changed classes of more professors, with one we studied only portraits, with another we studied only act, study of the body, then the study of the body and body composition, etc. With such teaching rhythm, in my free time I was looking for my way of expression, I investigated new material. I worked in wood, terracotta. Art Foundry was next to the Academy, and I often went there to work as an assistant at chasing sculptures. With the education at the Academy I also learned the whole technological process of casting art in bronze.


What happened after the academy? You have completed post-graduate studies, and then?

After that I worked in the Art Foundry of ALU, I was chief of the foundry for about three years. At that time our biggest project was Kršnić’s Tesla, which we finished in almost impossible short term and delivered it to the customer and which is set in the United States, Niagara Falls. However, I decided for direction of freelance artist and in that profession I exist over 33 years. Work in the art foundry, although I have achieved significant results, denied my need for artistic expression. In that period, in the sense of my own creativity, due to my large engagement in the foundry of art, I was fallen almost to the level of hobbyists, where I was able to create only during weekends. Although I knew that being a free artist is quite difficult in terms of securing existence, I have decided and I was able to withstand all these years, sometimes experiencing tough times, but more often happy periods until the recent retirement. Of course, I could not do only what was in my taste, I also worked under orders for collectors, according to some of their ideas. I did not refuse such jobs.

 

Tell us about the exhibitions. During the certain period of time you have been active, and then you were gone?

Regarding exhibitions, I made seven, eight solo exhibitions and a fair number of group exhibitions. That was financially quite exhausting. But I was not stopped by finances, I stopped at the time in which conceptual art was actual, which has dominated the market, and I did not have touch points with conceptual art. Then, there were less and less visitors to the exhibitions . People come to the opening and after there is no one else. This situation in our society, in my opinion, runs over 20 years. However, I still continue to create. Now I make more oil paintings and pastels draw, I make sculptures a little less because of lack of space, space for storage.

 

We presented your art prints on the Internet to the lovers of art, now the dominant medium. What are your thoughts on this subject?

In the recent period, I decided to produce art prints. This is my copyright work that is multiplied in a defined small editions, the price is appropriate and acceptable for someone who likes art, but cannot separate substantial money for the fine arts. Uniques or originals always have their price and for many people they are expensive. Especially in an economic crisis such as we have today.

 

Regarding art prints, there are themes - people, horses, dancers, riders, nudes, sea? However, there is also the motive of Zagreb. Why Zagreb?  

My themes are still present. However, sometimes I jump into topics such as Zagreb. I want to offer something for those people for which Zagreb, as well as for me, plays a major role in the life and define him.

 

What the city of Zagreb means to you?

Zagreb is the environment in which I work, I create. Zagreb inspires me. I live several decades in Zagreb. Everything that I have achieved, I have achieved in Zagreb. Not only that I graduated here from the Academy, here I further perfected in the arts, here I got married, devised and raised my family. Here are my children, grandchildren. Zagreb is everything to me. That is why, occasionally ... Before I also drew motives of Zagreb, but by order ... But then it was not my theme in a constant expression. I was preoccupied with figures of riders, walkers, dancers, and horses ... Sometimes the landscape or act.

 

They say that in your paintings sculptural approach can be recognized. Is there any truth in that?

That constantly follows me. They say that I'm in the sculpturing as a painter and that in painting I am a sculptor. It is a matter of those who see me like that, experience. I perceive that differently. I consider that a single handwriting that is networked between my sculptures, paintings and drawings. I want that it is mine and recognizable. I do not want to escape from that, nor can I. This is just my way of expressing my handwriting.

 

It seems that you do not complicate your experience with art, you do not theorize a lot in this regard?

No, once I have an idea, I try it to set as soon as possible. Sometimes I work on the artwork for a long time, depending on the situation, mood, theme. Sometimes I can finish the work in really short time; however, I never desist from my views. I have tried to go into abstraction, but it is not my way of expression.

 

In your artworks is there something poetical, we know that you wrote poetry? Are there any links?

Of course it has a link. Poetry is a short inspiration of high intensity, as well as fine art.

 

When you create, do you have a plan?

When I create artwork, I am trying to be poetical. But how much the artwork will be expressionistic, more impressionistic, more figurative or less figuratively ... I do not know until I get closer to the end of creating artwork. But it remains recognizable in its content, in its form, its color, in its composition. And, of course, recognizable in its message.

Do you have any message to art lovers?

My personal messages are not anything special. The messages are hidden in my creativity. My favorite one is that one who sees my artwork, call it by name as he pleases.

 

You do not function as a merchant with your artworks? Is money important to you?

No, I'm not a trader.. ... I do not have additional power for that. While I create paintings or statues, the creation, the art occurs. When I paint a painting, it's over for me. Now, whether someone likes it or not ... Even I am sometimes skeptical... Maybe I could do something different ... That haunts me constantly; I cannot get rid of it. Again, the assessment is on others, to make their own judgments. And mine is to stay who I am.

 

All these years you are living as a freelance artist, without marketing support, without the support of any system, or state structures?

I did not ask for the funds because of my personal attitudes, and sometimes I did not have the support of politics because of my open expressing of my opinion, and one binds another. I was not able to fit in those passed times, and I'm not successful in integrating in this last, modern times. Everything I did, I financed by my resources and my work, and that makes me proud. But it's easy when money does not mean too much.

Interview with the artist

 

We had a conversation with Mr. Josip Konta, academic sculptor and painter, in his apartment, actually art studio where there are hundreds of sculptures and oil paintings. On the walls there is no more space even for the hanging of a smaller painting. Along the walls there are numerous sculptures from different cycles of creativity of this artist. Our curiosity was kept under control by wary and nervous terrier, guarding works of art for which he is in charge.

 

Thank you for your time. Tell us, how your long artistic path started?

I was born in Livno. As a child in the primary school, I felt the need for artistic expression. And that gave me the will, not only to draw, but to explore color in watercolor technique, even in oil. Later I started doing sculptures in clay and plaster, so I finally decided to go to the High School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo. After graduating from the High School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo, which was then a five-year school, I enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, which I finished within the period, and then I started post-graduate studies with professor Antun Augustinčić and became his assistant. I've been working for some time on a monument of Matija Gubec erected near Oršić castle in Gornja Stubica. After completing two years of postgraduate studies, I came to work in the Art Foundry of ALU, where I was three years head of casting bronze monuments.


Let's go back to the beginning. How a small community accepted your affinity for the artistic expression?

On such a question a man can only give a subjective response. Some from the immediate surroundings have been accepted it some were surprised, some did not believe. If I do something good, they thought someone else made it , and that I purchased it somewhere. Somewhere at the end of primary school, there was an exhibition where they were finally convinced that it was still my work, and they were in the great wonderment.


How has family accepted your selection?

There were five of us, brothers and sisters. I was the youngest and the only one with the affinity for the fine arts. My parents supported me.


How did they comment your artistic affinity?

They did not say anything special. They only wondered how I would live if I just deal with art.


You said five-year Secondary School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo. What was it like, how old were you when you left your home?

I went to this school because it was the best school of applied arts in the former state, I was thirteen. In Sarajevo, there were no academy and education in that school was very similar to the way education at the academy. Morning was the practical work, drawing and modeling, theory was during the afternoon and in the evening there was drawing of the evening act.


Where did you live in Sarajevo?

I was a boarder, I lived in a rented, financially affordable rooms. I liked to be alone because I love to create in peace, and I managed to partially finance myself with my work .


How did you finance the secondary education? Parents or...?

At first I was fully financed by parents. After a while I got a scholarship, and then I, as I mastered the technology of casting and processing of plaster, worked with older, more-established artists as an assistant. For example, for famous sculptor Marijan Kocković I poured casts of his sculptures in plaster. And with Professor Hižar, who was teaching technology of plaster, I went into the business of making replicas of old amphorae that we exhibited and sold in Hotel Esplanade. People could not tell the difference between our replica and the real ancient Roman amphorae. These are jobs that helped me to finance my education.


What happened after high school?

After I graduated high school, I went to Dubrovnik where I poured and carved in stone for the famous sculptor Marijan Kocković. I was in Dubrovnik for four months, and then I went to Zagreb to enroll the academy , where I was the only one in my generation who immediately enrolled.


At that time there were only three academies in this region - in Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade. How was that part of your life?

Nothing special. Work every day, coming to class, just exercise and work. In the morning we had a practice, in the afternoon we had a theory, and in the evening we had a drawing of the evening act. We changed classes of more professors, with one we studied only portraits, with another we studied only act, study of the body, then the study of the body and body composition, etc. With such teaching rhythm, in my free time I was looking for my way of expression, I investigated new material. I worked in wood, terracotta. Art Foundry was next to the Academy, and I often went there to work as an assistant at chasing sculptures. With the education at the Academy I also learned the whole technological process of casting art in bronze.


What happened after the academy? You have completed post-graduate studies, and then?

After that I worked in the Art Foundry of ALU, I was chief of the foundry for about three years. At that time our biggest project was Kršnić’s Tesla, which we finished in almost impossible short term and delivered it to the customer and which is set in the United States, Niagara Falls. However, I decided for direction of freelance artist and in that profession I exist over 33 years. Work in the art foundry, although I have achieved significant results, denied my need for artistic expression. In that period, in the sense of my own creativity, due to my large engagement in the foundry of art, I was fallen almost to the level of hobbyists, where I was able to create only during weekends. Although I knew that being a free artist is quite difficult in terms of securing existence, I have decided and I was able to withstand all these years, sometimes experiencing tough times, but more often happy periods until the recent retirement. Of course, I could not do only what was in my taste, I also worked under orders for collectors, according to some of their ideas. I did not refuse such jobs.

 

Tell us about the exhibitions. During the certain period of time you have been active, and then you were gone?

Regarding exhibitions, I made seven, eight solo exhibitions and a fair number of group exhibitions. That was financially quite exhausting. But I was not stopped by finances, I stopped at the time in which conceptual art was actual, which has dominated the market, and I did not have touch points with conceptual art. Then, there were less and less visitors to the exhibitions . People come to the opening and after there is no one else. This situation in our society, in my opinion, runs over 20 years. However, I still continue to create. Now I make more oil paintings and pastels draw, I make sculptures a little less because of lack of space, space for storage.

 

We presented your art prints on the Internet to the lovers of art, now the dominant medium. What are your thoughts on this subject?

In the recent period, I decided to produce art prints. This is my copyright work that is multiplied in a defined small editions, the price is appropriate and acceptable for someone who likes art, but cannot separate substantial money for the fine arts. Uniques or originals always have their price and for many people they are expensive. Especially in an economic crisis such as we have today.

 

Regarding art prints, there are themes - people, horses, dancers, riders, nudes, sea? However, there is also the motive of Zagreb. Why Zagreb?  

My themes are still present. However, sometimes I jump into topics such as Zagreb. I want to offer something for those people for which Zagreb, as well as for me, plays a major role in the life and define him.

 

What the city of Zagreb means to you?

Zagreb is the environment in which I work, I create. Zagreb inspires me. I live several decades in Zagreb. Everything that I have achieved, I have achieved in Zagreb. Not only that I graduated here from the Academy, here I further perfected in the arts, here I got married, devised and raised my family. Here are my children, grandchildren. Zagreb is everything to me. That is why, occasionally ... Before I also drew motives of Zagreb, but by order ... But then it was not my theme in a constant expression. I was preoccupied with figures of riders, walkers, dancers, and horses ... Sometimes the landscape or act.

 

They say that in your paintings sculptural approach can be recognized. Is there any truth in that?

That constantly follows me. They say that I'm in the sculpturing as a painter and that in painting I am a sculptor. It is a matter of those who see me like that, experience. I perceive that differently. I consider that a single handwriting that is networked between my sculptures, paintings and drawings. I want that it is mine and recognizable. I do not want to escape from that, nor can I. This is just my way of expressing my handwriting.

 

It seems that you do not complicate your experience with art, you do not theorize a lot in this regard?

No, once I have an idea, I try it to set as soon as possible. Sometimes I work on the artwork for a long time, depending on the situation, mood, theme. Sometimes I can finish the work in really short time; however, I never desist from my views. I have tried to go into abstraction, but it is not my way of expression.

 

In your artworks is there something poetical, we know that you wrote poetry? Are there any links?

Of course it has a link. Poetry is a short inspiration of high intensity, as well as fine art.

 

When you create, do you have a plan?

When I create artwork, I am trying to be poetical. But how much the artwork will be expressionistic, more impressionistic, more figurative or less figuratively ... I do not know until I get closer to the end of creating artwork. But it remains recognizable in its content, in its form, its color, in its composition. And, of course, recognizable in its message.

Do you have any message to art lovers?

My personal messages are not anything special. The messages are hidden in my creativity. My favorite one is that one who sees my artwork, call it by name as he pleases.

 

You do not function as a merchant with your artworks? Is money important to you?

No, I'm not a trader.. ... I do not have additional power for that. While I create paintings or statues, the creation, the art occurs. When I paint a painting, it's over for me. Now, whether someone likes it or not ... Even I am sometimes skeptical... Maybe I could do something different ... That haunts me constantly; I cannot get rid of it. Again, the assessment is on others, to make their own judgments. And mine is to stay who I am.

 

All these years you are living as a freelance artist, without marketing support, without the support of any system, or state structures?

I did not ask for the funds because of my personal attitudes, and sometimes I did not have the support of politics because of my open expressing of my opinion, and one binds another. I was not able to fit in those passed times, and I'm not successful in integrating in this last, modern times. Everything I did, I financed by my resources and my work, and that makes me proud. But it's easy when money does not mean too much.

Josip Konta prepares a retrospective exhibition

 


A contemporary Croatian artist, the academic painter Josip Konta (born in Livno, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts (ALU) in Zagreb in 1972, in 1974 he completed his postgraduate studies by attending the sculpting master class of A. Augustinčić, worked as Director of Artistic Foundry of ALU in Zagreb for a couple of years, has, up to now, worked as a solo artist, exhibited his works at many exhibitions throughout Croatia and abroad) has for the last couple of months been preparing himself for the oncoming retrospective exhibition.


Mr Konta, we have met in your studio at the time of your intensive preparations for a retrospective exhibition due next year. You have engaged in painting, sculpture and graphics in the past period. How do you envisage the presentation, choice of the best among your comprehensive opuses? How many works do you wish to exhibit?
You have noticed well; oils on canvas, sculptures and, recently, graphics. I would also mention drawings to which I devoted a lot of my time. Research and work with these media have been my preoccupation from the start, ever since I embraced art or, should I say, art embraced me. I was looking for my way of the artistic expression, permeated with my feelings, my reflections about the purpose of life and the experience of the world we live in, my experience of life and aesthetic subjects. As for the presentation, it poses no problem as such. Indeed, I have a lot of works that have not been exhibited yet, which is where my principal motive lies. Difficulties with preparation as such are of technical nature. Namely, I want to cast sculptures in bronze, which requires substantial financial means. I am not sure how many works I am going to exhibit, maybe some 25 sculptures, 25-30 oils on canvas and the same number of graphics. Although the number of hitherto non-exhibited works is by far greater.


In the early 1970s you graduated from ALU in Zagreb, you attended also the specialization with Augustinčić. What approach to art did you have then? How did you see your first real professional steps? To what extent die ALU enable your solo career?
To enrol in the ALU at the time was a great thing for me and a postgraduate study with Prof. Augustinčić was a finishing touch. The academy offers the opportunity of artistic maturation, whereas youth and zeal dictated my wish for success. However, every start is a start on the way to the unknown and real formation is to begin actually. The ALU can indeed prepare the artist for his solo activity. However, in the pursuit of that goal one must be brave, persevering and almost stubborn.


Painting in your studio has grown in parallel with sculpting. But, is there anything special, hidden and characteristic of the relationship between you painting and sculpting?
What has remained hidden is only the poetry, which I wrote for my own sake. I have preserved some of it and keep it jealously for myself.Y


What is vital for understanding your paintings?
Those who love my art, common people, surprise me with their approach, interpretation and understanding of my works so that I myself am taken by surprise. Who am I to interfere with this magic?


You have been pointing out the importance of the painting cycle dedicated to the „Group“. What is so attractive and invaluable in that cycle?
The cycle „Groups“ attracted me because of the composition of events. There is always something happening in groups, people come and go. Some are static, some on the move. What is common for them is only the alienation. A subject that offers inexhaustible possibilities.


Of many sculpture subjects, you like horses.
Horses, an inexhaustible subject of many artists and of myself, too. I want a horse in the painting, as well as in sculpture, to carry my signature, to distinguish it from others. I think I have accomplished this.


Also interesting are your portraits, and rather peculiar.
I have made a limited number of portraits. But, when I make a portrait, I always want it to impart a gesture, a mystic look hidden behind thin mist.


Let us mention your dedication to drawing, especially dry pastel.
Pastel drawings have been in the focus of my interest lately. From a line, stroke up to the whole composition. They offer great possibilities in expression, which makes me happy. I have made an interesting opus of pastel drawings and I am contemplating their inclusion in my retrospective exhibition.


You have devoted a certain portion of your time to graphics with popular or so-to-say everyday motifs lately.
Graphics, in my opinion, must be acceptable, accessible and simple in its expression and motif. The important thing is that to me all these motifs are acceptable – sea, horses, nude figures, dancers, vedute of Zagreb ... We have accordingly opened a web site dedicated to my graphics – www.JosipKontaArt.com.


You have been active in Fine Arts for fifty years. How did you assess the general conditions in art fifty years ago and how do you assess them nowadays?
Looking back on the art over the last 50 years of my activity, I think that the visual art contents were better before. By far greater number of exhibitions by domestic artists, whether older or younger, took place, which had a fairly good turnout. I think that people had a slower paced lifestyle and were able to stop at the station of art more easily and more comfortably. There were cafés where we used to meet and discuss art, poetry, aesthetics. That was not the time for political commendations, but art was characterized by a slower rhythm. Today I hope to meet with assessments of a solo cultural creation on equal terms and I wish we all had more time to indulge in art and introspection.


Looking back on you artistic development, what do you feel? How did you put up with turbulent times and how with those utterly peaceful?
n the early years of my life I was more active. I worked sometimes 15 hours and even more, mostly at night. Besides my visual artistic work, I was in search of the market to provide for living and creation, which implied great effort and denials at the same time. However, I tried not to let compromise enter my art. There were also periodically endless periods of helplessness and disappointment with the society I lived in because not all artists and their work were treated on equal terms. Nevertheless, this might have made me stronger and in time I came to support myself more easily. Now I am living and creating in a peaceful period.


How important is the artist's attitude toward media, market and the public?
The relationship between media and the artist is of extreme importance. The media can promote an artist and support his artistic value. However, before entering into such relationship, an opus needs to be created. To make a single fuss about something makes no sense. Work and creation must be the only constant in art. YY


Have you painted everything you wanted?
Naturally, I haven't. To make it would have required two lives of mine. But to dream about it does not cost anything.


How much one changes through artistic development, for example over the span of some fifty years?
One changes continuously over the time anyway. Life shapes you day after day and so do you wishes change. As for the artist, what remains is his work with which he records his reflections and life cycles. That is the heritage of the time he lived in, that is his way of living also after life. What can be more beautiful and sincere that that?

 

Interview with Josip Konta for a culture magazine, Croatian Letter, led by the poet and writer Mr. Miroslav Pelikan.

Josip Konta prepares a retrospective exhibition

 


A contemporary Croatian artist, the academic painter Josip Konta (born in Livno, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts (ALU) in Zagreb in 1972, in 1974 he completed his postgraduate studies by attending the sculpting master class of A. Augustinčić, worked as Director of Artistic Foundry of ALU in Zagreb for a couple of years, has, up to now, worked as a solo artist, exhibited his works at many exhibitions throughout Croatia and abroad) has for the last couple of months been preparing himself for the oncoming retrospective exhibition.


Mr Konta, we have met in your studio at the time of your intensive preparations for a retrospective exhibition due next year. You have engaged in painting, sculpture and graphics in the past period. How do you envisage the presentation, choice of the best among your comprehensive opuses? How many works do you wish to exhibit?
You have noticed well; oils on canvas, sculptures and, recently, graphics. I would also mention drawings to which I devoted a lot of my time. Research and work with these media have been my preoccupation from the start, ever since I embraced art or, should I say, art embraced me. I was looking for my way of the artistic expression, permeated with my feelings, my reflections about the purpose of life and the experience of the world we live in, my experience of life and aesthetic subjects. As for the presentation, it poses no problem as such. Indeed, I have a lot of works that have not been exhibited yet, which is where my principal motive lies. Difficulties with preparation as such are of technical nature. Namely, I want to cast sculptures in bronze, which requires substantial financial means. I am not sure how many works I am going to exhibit, maybe some 25 sculptures, 25-30 oils on canvas and the same number of graphics. Although the number of hitherto non-exhibited works is by far greater.


In the early 1970s you graduated from ALU in Zagreb, you attended also the specialization with Augustinčić. What approach to art did you have then? How did you see your first real professional steps? To what extent die ALU enable your solo career?
To enrol in the ALU at the time was a great thing for me and a postgraduate study with Prof. Augustinčić was a finishing touch. The academy offers the opportunity of artistic maturation, whereas youth and zeal dictated my wish for success. However, every start is a start on the way to the unknown and real formation is to begin actually. The ALU can indeed prepare the artist for his solo activity. However, in the pursuit of that goal one must be brave, persevering and almost stubborn.


Painting in your studio has grown in parallel with sculpting. But, is there anything special, hidden and characteristic of the relationship between you painting and sculpting?
What has remained hidden is only the poetry, which I wrote for my own sake. I have preserved some of it and keep it jealously for myself.Y


What is vital for understanding your paintings?
Those who love my art, common people, surprise me with their approach, interpretation and understanding of my works so that I myself am taken by surprise. Who am I to interfere with this magic?


You have been pointing out the importance of the painting cycle dedicated to the „Group“. What is so attractive and invaluable in that cycle?
The cycle „Groups“ attracted me because of the composition of events. There is always something happening in groups, people come and go. Some are static, some on the move. What is common for them is only the alienation. A subject that offers inexhaustible possibilities.


Of many sculpture subjects, you like horses.
Horses, an inexhaustible subject of many artists and of myself, too. I want a horse in the painting, as well as in sculpture, to carry my signature, to distinguish it from others. I think I have accomplished this.


Also interesting are your portraits, and rather peculiar.
I have made a limited number of portraits. But, when I make a portrait, I always want it to impart a gesture, a mystic look hidden behind thin mist.


Let us mention your dedication to drawing, especially dry pastel.
Pastel drawings have been in the focus of my interest lately. From a line, stroke up to the whole composition. They offer great possibilities in expression, which makes me happy. I have made an interesting opus of pastel drawings and I am contemplating their inclusion in my retrospective exhibition.


You have devoted a certain portion of your time to graphics with popular or so-to-say everyday motifs lately.
Graphics, in my opinion, must be acceptable, accessible and simple in its expression and motif. The important thing is that to me all these motifs are acceptable – sea, horses, nude figures, dancers, vedute of Zagreb ... We have accordingly opened a web site dedicated to my graphics – www.JosipKontaArt.com.


You have been active in Fine Arts for fifty years. How did you assess the general conditions in art fifty years ago and how do you assess them nowadays?
Looking back on the art over the last 50 years of my activity, I think that the visual art contents were better before. By far greater number of exhibitions by domestic artists, whether older or younger, took place, which had a fairly good turnout. I think that people had a slower paced lifestyle and were able to stop at the station of art more easily and more comfortably. There were cafés where we used to meet and discuss art, poetry, aesthetics. That was not the time for political commendations, but art was characterized by a slower rhythm. Today I hope to meet with assessments of a solo cultural creation on equal terms and I wish we all had more time to indulge in art and introspection.


Looking back on you artistic development, what do you feel? How did you put up with turbulent times and how with those utterly peaceful?
n the early years of my life I was more active. I worked sometimes 15 hours and even more, mostly at night. Besides my visual artistic work, I was in search of the market to provide for living and creation, which implied great effort and denials at the same time. However, I tried not to let compromise enter my art. There were also periodically endless periods of helplessness and disappointment with the society I lived in because not all artists and their work were treated on equal terms. Nevertheless, this might have made me stronger and in time I came to support myself more easily. Now I am living and creating in a peaceful period.


How important is the artist's attitude toward media, market and the public?
The relationship between media and the artist is of extreme importance. The media can promote an artist and support his artistic value. However, before entering into such relationship, an opus needs to be created. To make a single fuss about something makes no sense. Work and creation must be the only constant in art. YY


Have you painted everything you wanted?
Naturally, I haven't. To make it would have required two lives of mine. But to dream about it does not cost anything.


How much one changes through artistic development, for example over the span of some fifty years?
One changes continuously over the time anyway. Life shapes you day after day and so do you wishes change. As for the artist, what remains is his work with which he records his reflections and life cycles. That is the heritage of the time he lived in, that is his way of living also after life. What can be more beautiful and sincere that that?

 

Interview with Josip Konta for a culture magazine, Croatian Letter, led by the poet and writer Mr. Miroslav Pelikan.

What is new in the studio?

 


Josip Konta, the academic painter (born in Livno, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts (ALU) in Zagreb in 1972, to spend next two years attending the sculpting master class of A. Augustinčić, has worked as a solo artist for years, realized a number of prominent cycles and exhibited at a number of solo exhibitions) has, in the last couple of months, gained momentum dedicating his time to a new cycle expressed in dry pastel technique.


What is new in the studio?
I have focused on pastel, dry pastel lately. My paintings range from diverse vedute of the city of Zagreb, through landscapes to horses, horses playing, which is a subject I am very much fond of.


What must a specific motif possess to attract you?
First of all, I must be in the mood for a specific motif. Then I work on it. I prefer working on a motif that I choose on the spur of the moment, horses, people, compositions.


Does the new cycle have a name?
For the time being, it doesn't. But speaking of it, I must point out that a part of pastels is transferred into screen prints. Thus, Zagreb will be presented in a series of some fifteen motifs. From the Cathedral, through Strossmayer's Promenade to the Theatre etc.


The pastel is often used as a preparation for the oil. But first of all, what has dry pastel brought to you?
Indeed, speed, which enables creativity in expression where there are various possibilities. Paper, already with its choice of colour, offers peculiarity of the substrate, so that a drawing and a substrate can be nicely combined.


How many pastel paintings have you made till today?
A bit more than thirty I should say. I continue to be focused on pastel. However, when I get tired of it, I turn to oil. Thus, a couple of oil paintings were made in recent period. Not to forget, neither do I interrupt my work on the sculpture, the figure of a horse. A couple of them were made in recent periods as well. You know, my mind is always set on the sculpture and I intend to revert to it as soon as I finish my pastel cycle.


You have practically been continuously preoccupied with pastel, oil paintings and sculpture?
That is right, I continuously work on everything I started a long time ago. I continue my work on figuration, and I enjoy working in the studio very much. I pay attention to the form, I love a dynamic move. The move is what I find particularly intriguing. When you put a rider on the horse, many possibilities arise.


Say something about oil paintings.
I am very fond of my „ groups „ ... They are always there, in a space, during walk or search.


When shall we have the opportunity of seeing some of your new works at the exhibition?
I have long contemplated the idea of a stratified sculpture exhibition. But the work as such is more important than exhibiting, I should say. An artist must always be in contact with the material. I admit that sometimes a specific exhibition and displayed works take me by surprise. Namely, I start asking myself whether they belong there.


Do you sometimes have a dilemma? Exhibit only individual cycles or combine them into an exhibiting whole.
Yes, there is always a dilemma. The artist is constantly confronted with a temptation. You know, the essence of art is work. And when I eventually finish a painting, I ask myself whether I need it such as it is and whether it should have come out different after all. An artist must be critical. On the other hand, it is important that an artist takes a position and hold on to it. I will soon turn seventy and I sometimes ask myself whether I would have changed something in my work.

 

Interview with Josip Konta for a culture magazine, Croatian Letter, led by the poet and writer Mr. Miroslav Pelikan.

What is new in the studio?

 


Josip Konta, the academic painter (born in Livno, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts (ALU) in Zagreb in 1972, to spend next two years attending the sculpting master class of A. Augustinčić, has worked as a solo artist for years, realized a number of prominent cycles and exhibited at a number of solo exhibitions) has, in the last couple of months, gained momentum dedicating his time to a new cycle expressed in dry pastel technique.


What is new in the studio?
I have focused on pastel, dry pastel lately. My paintings range from diverse vedute of the city of Zagreb, through landscapes to horses, horses playing, which is a subject I am very much fond of.


What must a specific motif possess to attract you?
First of all, I must be in the mood for a specific motif. Then I work on it. I prefer working on a motif that I choose on the spur of the moment, horses, people, compositions.


Does the new cycle have a name?
For the time being, it doesn't. But speaking of it, I must point out that a part of pastels is transferred into screen prints. Thus, Zagreb will be presented in a series of some fifteen motifs. From the Cathedral, through Strossmayer's Promenade to the Theatre etc.


The pastel is often used as a preparation for the oil. But first of all, what has dry pastel brought to you?
Indeed, speed, which enables creativity in expression where there are various possibilities. Paper, already with its choice of colour, offers peculiarity of the substrate, so that a drawing and a substrate can be nicely combined.


How many pastel paintings have you made till today?
A bit more than thirty I should say. I continue to be focused on pastel. However, when I get tired of it, I turn to oil. Thus, a couple of oil paintings were made in recent period. Not to forget, neither do I interrupt my work on the sculpture, the figure of a horse. A couple of them were made in recent periods as well. You know, my mind is always set on the sculpture and I intend to revert to it as soon as I finish my pastel cycle.


You have practically been continuously preoccupied with pastel, oil paintings and sculpture?
That is right, I continuously work on everything I started a long time ago. I continue my work on figuration, and I enjoy working in the studio very much. I pay attention to the form, I love a dynamic move. The move is what I find particularly intriguing. When you put a rider on the horse, many possibilities arise.


Say something about oil paintings.
I am very fond of my „ groups „ ... They are always there, in a space, during walk or search.


When shall we have the opportunity of seeing some of your new works at the exhibition?
I have long contemplated the idea of a stratified sculpture exhibition. But the work as such is more important than exhibiting, I should say. An artist must always be in contact with the material. I admit that sometimes a specific exhibition and displayed works take me by surprise. Namely, I start asking myself whether they belong there.


Do you sometimes have a dilemma? Exhibit only individual cycles or combine them into an exhibiting whole.
Yes, there is always a dilemma. The artist is constantly confronted with a temptation. You know, the essence of art is work. And when I eventually finish a painting, I ask myself whether I need it such as it is and whether it should have come out different after all. An artist must be critical. On the other hand, it is important that an artist takes a position and hold on to it. I will soon turn seventy and I sometimes ask myself whether I would have changed something in my work.

 

Interview with Josip Konta for a culture magazine, Croatian Letter, led by the poet and writer Mr. Miroslav Pelikan.

REVIEWS

Sculptures of Josip Konta (2017)

 


Academic sculptor Josip Konta (Livno, 1946, after Sarajevo School of Applied Arts, graduated from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in 1972; in 1974 he finished a two-year special course at A. Augustinčić; He is the author of a series of monuments and several extraordinary authoring cycles; He exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions) is one of the most prominent names of the contemporary Croatian art scene, always slightly withdrawn when it comes to media offset, exceptionally loves peace and quiet of his atelier, which, though not quite adequate, still intensively works today, continuing research both in painting and sculpture cycles.

Certainly, the basic features of sculpture work and engagement by Josip Konta are his numerous sculptures of individual figures (man and woman) up to his favorite cavalry figures and, of course, the most complex part of the cycle, the group.

His numerous, slim, slender figures, seemingly almost complete, preserved corps, but when looking more closely, we first observe the position of the body, which is almost calm, static, stopped in motion, on the move, in a forgotten second, in receiving bad news and when everything is quiet and the mind of a man feverishly works, thinking about what and how. The figure is maybe not racked by a bad news of mourning for losing, perhaps he simply stayed alone in the world, and when he knows, he alone is alone.

It is interesting to note that some standing, upright figures have their faces, only in the indications, others are more profiled, but the gesture of their bodies is a dominant element.

Then again, we observe the unusual, unnatural incompleteness of the bodies of Konta’s figures. Are these gaps in the body signs and the recognition of exceptional human vulnerability and weakness, but also the potential disability and the inability to lift up the head and oppose the upcoming disadvantages?

Did the body recoil after the lack of mind, struggling with the typical existentialist questions, who I am and what I am looking for, what I miss, what is it and where is my second me?

As a possible solution, Konta builds very sophisticated, very symbolic cavalry figures with powerful, rearing horses, whose strength can help a man and bring him back into nature, into naturalness, into the desired reality.

Konta’s horsemen flutter with a flag of optimism, tomorrow, courage and belief in themselves and their power, their common, combined power, gives incredible power to both man and animal.

Can horse rumps lead a vulnerable man to a more natural, happier world or can they just direct a man towards the path to naturalness, genuineness, purity?

The horse, this incredible noble animal, which may have decided more than a man on the fate of humankind in many battles, is here a kind of alter ego, almost inaccessible, oblivious, probably sometimes incomprehensible.

Yet the key is the movement, the will, the desire for movement, which is recognizable in Konta’s sculpture series; namely movement or move connect the horse and the rider, the body and the mind of the lonely figure, which only just did not appear and happen.

Though the bodies are still, the next movement is carefully concealed and clenched, a movement that shall not distract the upright and immobile figure, but take it away, as well as the magnificent horses, which shall quickly rush to an unknown and mysterious. The group, a group of affiliated individuals or a homogeneous body, intertwined with li

mbs, with lust, fear, scream and twitch, or wholly soothed in the circle of voiceless bodies, appears as a remarkable motive in the work of Josip Konta with a new element, feeling a calming atmosphere (or goals are achieved or one just got over there where there is no exit and all is futile) driven by futility and exhaustion.

The sculptural opus of academic sculptor Josip Konta is comprehensive and significant, remarkably important in the current artistic production and certainly worth to seriously contemplate and consider in the great retrospective exhibition, which would undoubtedly enable us to have a deeper perspective and understanding of simply cleaner and stronger experience, a unique insight into the work, a precise observation of the rhythm of the inner structure of the artist's spirit and his work.

Miroslav Pelikan, journalist and writer
Written for AkademijaArt on May 02nd, 2017


Sculptures of Josip Konta (2017)

 


Academic sculptor Josip Konta (Livno, 1946, after Sarajevo School of Applied Arts, graduated from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in 1972; in 1974 he finished a two-year special course at A. Augustinčić; He is the author of a series of monuments and several extraordinary authoring cycles; He exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions) is one of the most prominent names of the contemporary Croatian art scene, always slightly withdrawn when it comes to media offset, exceptionally loves peace and quiet of his atelier, which, though not quite adequate, still intensively works today, continuing research both in painting and sculpture cycles.

Certainly, the basic features of sculpture work and engagement by Josip Konta are his numerous sculptures of individual figures (man and woman) up to his favorite cavalry figures and, of course, the most complex part of the cycle, the group.

His numerous, slim, slender figures, seemingly almost complete, preserved corps, but when looking more closely, we first observe the position of the body, which is almost calm, static, stopped in motion, on the move, in a forgotten second, in receiving bad news and when everything is quiet and the mind of a man feverishly works, thinking about what and how. The figure is maybe not racked by a bad news of mourning for losing, perhaps he simply stayed alone in the world, and when he knows, he alone is alone.

It is interesting to note that some standing, upright figures have their faces, only in the indications, others are more profiled, but the gesture of their bodies is a dominant element.

Then again, we observe the unusual, unnatural incompleteness of the bodies of Konta’s figures. Are these gaps in the body signs and the recognition of exceptional human vulnerability and weakness, but also the potential disability and the inability to lift up the head and oppose the upcoming disadvantages?

Did the body recoil after the lack of mind, struggling with the typical existentialist questions, who I am and what I am looking for, what I miss, what is it and where is my second me?

As a possible solution, Konta builds very sophisticated, very symbolic cavalry figures with powerful, rearing horses, whose strength can help a man and bring him back into nature, into naturalness, into the desired reality.

Konta’s horsemen flutter with a flag of optimism, tomorrow, courage and belief in themselves and their power, their common, combined power, gives incredible power to both man and animal.

Can horse rumps lead a vulnerable man to a more natural, happier world or can they just direct a man towards the path to naturalness, genuineness, purity?

The horse, this incredible noble animal, which may have decided more than a man on the fate of humankind in many battles, is here a kind of alter ego, almost inaccessible, oblivious, probably sometimes incomprehensible.

Yet the key is the movement, the will, the desire for movement, which is recognizable in Konta’s sculpture series; namely movement or move connect the horse and the rider, the body and the mind of the lonely figure, which only just did not appear and happen.

Though the bodies are still, the next movement is carefully concealed and clenched, a movement that shall not distract the upright and immobile figure, but take it away, as well as the magnificent horses, which shall quickly rush to an unknown and mysterious. The group, a group of affiliated individuals or a homogeneous body, intertwined with li

mbs, with lust, fear, scream and twitch, or wholly soothed in the circle of voiceless bodies, appears as a remarkable motive in the work of Josip Konta with a new element, feeling a calming atmosphere (or goals are achieved or one just got over there where there is no exit and all is futile) driven by futility and exhaustion.

The sculptural opus of academic sculptor Josip Konta is comprehensive and significant, remarkably important in the current artistic production and certainly worth to seriously contemplate and consider in the great retrospective exhibition, which would undoubtedly enable us to have a deeper perspective and understanding of simply cleaner and stronger experience, a unique insight into the work, a precise observation of the rhythm of the inner structure of the artist's spirit and his work.

Miroslav Pelikan, journalist and writer
Written for AkademijaArt on May 02nd, 2017


Ecce Homo (1983)

 

 

Visual art is linked to a figure ever since its conception until today, when semiotics requires and presupposes the existence of a figure as a vital condition for the distinctiveness and flagrancy of a symbol. The symbolism thus remains a test for the viewer. And that symbol is a geometric space.

Josip Konta signed his name in the topology and typology of the Croatian contemporary sculpture with his distinct handwriting of pure form already with his first exhibition in the Zagreb Youth Showroom. He was a student of recently deceased Valo Michielli, he tested his craft as an assistant to Antun Augustincic and confirmed his skills while working as a head of the ALU Sculpture Foundry for several years.

During a decade of his public appearance he organized four own exhibitions and acquired a confidence of a professional. His signature always remained the same: human body, standing man. Under this banner the sculptor fought, rose and fell under the burden of times that bring the inevitable feeling of depression and falling into the deep abyss of infinity, but also help find an almost desperate strength to rise into new dimensions of elation and fantasy. Because only in front of the gates of hell does a walking man find a way to the brightness of true inspiration, and his life restores the lost plentitude and completeness.

These primarily artistic views are reflected with almost the same amount of suggestion in the recent period (since the last exhibition five years ago) in his paintings. They, too, bring a variation of the same subject of a Man and a Woman, alone, in a group, in clusters and crowds, still or in a masterfully captured motion. These are the works of art that, in finding the way to a viewer, enrich us by sharing the nobility of suffering and pain, beauty and fantasy, found in a rapture of a Poet and at the bottom of our Pit. This is what it is: There is the “Family of a Man“ to rephrase the title of the famous UNESCO exhibition.

Konta has endured during these 10-15 years, alone under a millstone of his martyrdom, on a night watch, defending his and our world, refusing to be mislead by the charming sounds of fashion trends.

That is why we believe him.

 Boro Pavlović (*1922 - †2001),
 poet, essayist, art and literary critic and librettist


Ecce Homo (1983)

 

 

Visual art is linked to a figure ever since its conception until today, when semiotics requires and presupposes the existence of a figure as a vital condition for the distinctiveness and flagrancy of a symbol. The symbolism thus remains a test for the viewer. And that symbol is a geometric space.

Josip Konta signed his name in the topology and typology of the Croatian contemporary sculpture with his distinct handwriting of pure form already with his first exhibition in the Zagreb Youth Showroom. He was a student of recently deceased Valo Michielli, he tested his craft as an assistant to Antun Augustincic and confirmed his skills while working as a head of the ALU Sculpture Foundry for several years.

During a decade of his public appearance he organized four own exhibitions and acquired a confidence of a professional. His signature always remained the same: human body, standing man. Under this banner the sculptor fought, rose and fell under the burden of times that bring the inevitable feeling of depression and falling into the deep abyss of infinity, but also help find an almost desperate strength to rise into new dimensions of elation and fantasy. Because only in front of the gates of hell does a walking man find a way to the brightness of true inspiration, and his life restores the lost plentitude and completeness.

These primarily artistic views are reflected with almost the same amount of suggestion in the recent period (since the last exhibition five years ago) in his paintings. They, too, bring a variation of the same subject of a Man and a Woman, alone, in a group, in clusters and crowds, still or in a masterfully captured motion. These are the works of art that, in finding the way to a viewer, enrich us by sharing the nobility of suffering and pain, beauty and fantasy, found in a rapture of a Poet and at the bottom of our Pit. This is what it is: There is the “Family of a Man“ to rephrase the title of the famous UNESCO exhibition.

Konta has endured during these 10-15 years, alone under a millstone of his martyrdom, on a night watch, defending his and our world, refusing to be mislead by the charming sounds of fashion trends.

That is why we believe him.

 Boro Pavlović (*1922 - †2001),
 poet, essayist, art and literary critic and librettist


Playful motions (1978)

 

 

The new phase of the three-dimensional experience presented by Josip Konta is characterized by playful motions. The bodies which the sculptor observes are caught in moments of spontaneous gesture and communicate their firm connection with the imaginary environment. In such an atmosphere of real and fictitious occurrences a fable emerges in the eyes of an observer, as a result of suggestive movements and natural postures.

Josip Konta belongs to a generation of young sculptors that earned recognition at the beginning of the eighties, determined in their efforts to revaluate the figurative expression. He developed the roots and influences from the Academy of Fine Arts in the workshop of August Augustincic and continued to gradually shape them into his individual artistic expression. Fascinated by human beings, he observes a man in a reality of everyday problems that tear him/her apart. He transforms his emotional compassion into matter, forming his characters using strong, thick and irregular clumps. Identity is of no importance to him, hence all his characters remain deprived of their individuality, but the emphasis on the principal problematic idea grows. This situation develops the desire to affix a title to the concept of totality.

The process is accompanied by author's tendency to stretch figures and create a notion of physical suffering, to accentuate a contour as a specific interpreter of a spiritual condition and to open his figures to the surrounding space, demonstrating a continuous contact with the everyday life. Guided by these endeavors, the sculptor is not searching for beauty or ugliness in a human body - but the mere truth. It reveals itself in the movements of his figures, whether they reflect a spasm of the fight for existence or tenderness of a love embrace.

His cycle of figures, groups and bas-reliefs featuring essential human preoccupations expressed through realistic motions offers vast opportunities to sculptor Josip Konta for exploration in the domain of defining physical and psychological connection between the truths of life and artistic visions.


 Juraj Baldani (*1922 - †2010),
 journalist, art critic and writer




Playful motions (1978)

 

 

The new phase of the three-dimensional experience presented by Josip Konta is characterized by playful motions. The bodies which the sculptor observes are caught in moments of spontaneous gesture and communicate their firm connection with the imaginary environment. In such an atmosphere of real and fictitious occurrences a fable emerges in the eyes of an observer, as a result of suggestive movements and natural postures.

Josip Konta belongs to a generation of young sculptors that earned recognition at the beginning of the eighties, determined in their efforts to revaluate the figurative expression. He developed the roots and influences from the Academy of Fine Arts in the workshop of August Augustincic and continued to gradually shape them into his individual artistic expression. Fascinated by human beings, he observes a man in a reality of everyday problems that tear him/her apart. He transforms his emotional compassion into matter, forming his characters using strong, thick and irregular clumps. Identity is of no importance to him, hence all his characters remain deprived of their individuality, but the emphasis on the principal problematic idea grows. This situation develops the desire to affix a title to the concept of totality.

The process is accompanied by author's tendency to stretch figures and create a notion of physical suffering, to accentuate a contour as a specific interpreter of a spiritual condition and to open his figures to the surrounding space, demonstrating a continuous contact with the everyday life. Guided by these endeavors, the sculptor is not searching for beauty or ugliness in a human body - but the mere truth. It reveals itself in the movements of his figures, whether they reflect a spasm of the fight for existence or tenderness of a love embrace.

His cycle of figures, groups and bas-reliefs featuring essential human preoccupations expressed through realistic motions offers vast opportunities to sculptor Josip Konta for exploration in the domain of defining physical and psychological connection between the truths of life and artistic visions.


 Juraj Baldani (*1922 - †2010),
 journalist, art critic and writer




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