(Bačka Palanka, 27. December 1931. – Belgrade, 29. May 1990.)
Branislav Protić graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1959, having completed a special course in 1961, and he stayed there as a professor. His solo exhibitions in the Theater Academy in Belgrade in 1958, and the Youth Grandstands in 1959 are considered the first exhbitions of informalist paintings in Serbian art. He exhibited his paintings in the spirit of Art Informel at the October Salon and at the Youth Biennale in the Modern Gallery in Rijeka in 1961 (where he won an award), and then at the Triennale in Belgrade, and in the Salon 61, also in Rijeka, in 1961. He took part in important exhibitions of the Belgrade Art Informel: together with Zoran Pavlović and Vladislav Todorović in the Museum of Applied Arts in 1961, and then at the promotional exhibition by Lazar Trifunović entitled Art Informel – Young Painters in Belgrade in the Culture Center Gallery in 1962, as well as at a retrospective Art Informel in Belgrade exhibition in the Cvijeta Zuzorić Art Pavilion in 1982. Posthumous retrospectives were staged in the ULUS Gallery in 1993, in the Graphic Arts Collective Gallery in 2000, and in the Belgrade Cultural Centre Gallery in 2010. It was precisely at the latter exhibition where early paintings by Protić, made in 1956, were on display as well as a series of collages made in 1957. In the same year, two of his crucial paintings was made, entitled Composition (1957), one ownership of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the other in the Noveski collection. The Composition paintings are rare examples of the early period of Protić’s informalism. The fact that Protić exclusively used the notion Composition as a title for his paintings shows that he consistently understood the painting as a pure abstract art totally stripped off relations towards direct or associative object-related information. He treated the surface of the painting as a monochromatic field of amorphous sediments of color with occasional gentle relief foci achieved through non-painterly means and elements of collage. However, despite this, Protić kept and nurtured a careful disciple of painting which added to his informalism a certain pictorial and esthetic characteristics. By rejecting, therefore, form, Protić kept and maintained a positive and affirmative attitude towards the process of painting and the object of painting. Aware that excessive production and self-imposing presence in public would not in line with his extremely responsible understing of art, especially in his late period, Protić opted for a moderate and discrete presence in the art scene of his own milieu.
oil on canvas,
65 cm x 93 cm