Social Tendencies

written by Matko Meštrović


Approaching this period of painting in Croatia would require a clearer and more thorough exploration of one general theoretical topic, which, despite different answers it finds in different artistic aspirations and attitudes, should perhaps still have a generally applicable answer that would coincide with the essential character of art, as well as its nature and function. What is the purpose of art; what is its task and mission in the world; what are the artistic constituents of this; which of the many intricate motifs, interwoven into reasons for artistic manifestation, are decisive for the permanence of its value? Finally, if art is first and foremost an issue of morality – before which it can be brought up and by whom and how it can be addressed – whether it is the morality of personality, or the morality of man, or the morality of humans, or any right that life has in its constant juxtaposition of good and evil and the possibility of art to distinguish between them in life. We leave this topic aside because it is beyond the scope of our task, and we mention it only in passing, wishing to point out that, if one seeks to finally determine and establish something in art and about art - no matter what kind - it cannot be bypassed.

A similar problem also occurs when attempting to identify or designate completely clear orientations and completely clear flows of thoughts and currents in movements that motivate a milieu, a culture, a nation, even from a retrospective historical standpoint, so to say. Because there are no absolutely clean positions, not even today, especially in our milieu, that would ensure the firmness and sharpness of perspective, and they were even fewer at the time we are referring to. In fact, it seems that it is the inability to come up with completely clear concepts and the possibility of affirming them, with their actual creative and effective implementation in general cultural and, especially, conceptual and artistic issues, that is the main struggle in our development, its main disadvantage and cause of confusion. There are heaps and entire layers of misconceptions that should be cleared in the multiply intertwined areas of spiritual and material relations, while the real forces were neither capable nor strong enough to deal with it. And it is no wonder that we fail to reach clean and good beginnings and that all momentums, no matter how clean, experience inevitable aberrations. There has not been one single precognition in the course of entire artistic developments in our country since the beginning of the century, the range of which could be extended a little longer, and which would be able to predict, skip or avoid the inevitable intricacy and narrowness of perspectives. This fact arises from our actual historical circumstances and it is not superfluous to remember it.