Branko Filipović Filo

Branko Filipović Filo

(Cetinje, 27. June 1924. – Belgrade, 7. November 1997.)

Branko Filipović Filo graduated from the Art School in Herceg Novi in 1950, and then from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1955. He started exhibiting in 1950, and he had his first solo exhibition in 1951 in Cetinje. Filo staged exhibitions in Belgrade in 1957, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1975, and 1996, in Rome in 1958, 1966, 1970, and 1980, in Paris in 1968, 1970, and 1980, and in Vienna in 1965 and 1992. He had retrospectives in the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade, in the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana, in Coastal galleries in Piran, as well as in the Forum Gallery in Nikšić in 1987, and in the National Museum of Montenegro in Cetinje in 1997. As the very last representative of Yugoslavia, he exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1990.

Filo was one of the protagonists of the Belgrade Art Informel, and he took part in the Art Informel in Belgrade exhibition in the Cvijeta Zuzorić in 1982, but he was separated from the rest of the members of this movement by conditions of his formation as well as by the characteristics of his visual language. A series of his paintings with characteristics of informalism, created in 1954-1956, did not go public and was not exhibited at the time, which called into question their evident chronological priority in the history of homegrown Art Informel. Sources of Filo’s undestanding of abstraction are based upon the experience of local landscapes (as he put it himself: “as a movement, informalism was, by pure chance, imposed upon me bu the Montengrin karst…“), following the trail of paintings by Petar Lubarda, after which in “white“ (White Painting I and White Painting II (1959), Game of Time (1959) and others) and “black“ phase (Dark Horizon, Stone Desert, A Motif from My Home Area (1961-1962)) was close to the specific Italian variant of Art Informel, the so-called “very last naturalism“ (Ultimo naturalismo), nicknamed this way because of the “last possibility of painting over nature“). Essential features of Filo’s informalism were said to be representing “paintings of vitality, passionate growth, positive energies, heroic human or even cosmic drama…“ (P. Ćuković).

White Painting II (1959) is one of the top achievements of Filo’s early “white“ informalism as an artistic understanding of which he himself would write the following: “for me, informalism is more of a signature and a manner of expression than some defitinive painting style“.

During the 1970s and 1980s, a noticeable change occurs in Filo’s paintings, altering his expressive language in the sense of a separation from the previos phase of informalism and moving it onto an understanding of the “pure painting“ (according to the term used by critic Sava Stepanov), marked by the introduction of color and use of two-dimensional space as key carriers of pictorial expression. In the sense of exhbitions, this period of Filo’s activities began with solo exhbitions in the Rive Gauche galleries in Rome and Paris in 1980, culminating in his performance in the Yugoslav Pavilion during the Venice Biennale in 1990, with numerous solos (in Podgorica, Belgrade, Novi Sad, and other cities) and participation in collective exhibitions in the country (from Painting of Mature Passion in Pančevo in 1986 to Transgressional Forms in Vršac in 1998) and abroad (among which especially stand out exhibitions Kunst Europe in Stuttgart in 1991, and Positionen. 50 jahre Kunst aus Mitteleuropea 1949-1999 in Vienna in 1990, and in Budapest in 2000). At the time when, among others, he was painting the Painting 49 (1986), Painting 48 (1986), Duel I and Duel II, and so forth, Filo underwent a yet another very fertile painterly period, now within a problem-oriented context of post-modernistic and neo-expressionistic “renewal of painting”. Filo then went through a stormy regeneration of his “second youth”. In the decade in which a series of large size paintings created in the process of spontaneous gesturality, and uncurbed letting himself get carried away in coloristic abundance, the artists achieved some of the summits of his entire artistic opus.

Branko Filipovic Filo – Painting 49 (1986),<br>oil on canvas, 195 cm x 130 cm

Branko Filipovic Filo

Painting 49 (1986)

oil on canvas,

195 cm x 130 cm

Branko Filpovic Filo – White painting II (1959), combined technique on canvas, 42 cm x 56 cm

Branko Filpovic Filo

White Painting II (1959)

combined technique on canvas,

42 cm x 56 cm