(Arad, 10. December 1898. – Belgrade, 27. June 1977.)
Ivan Tabaković began his painting studies at the academies of fine arts in Budapest and Munich, and then graduated in 1924 from the academy in Zagreb in the class of Ljubo Babić. He had his first exhibition Grotesques (with Oton Postružnik) in Zagreb in 1926. He was one of the founders of the Earth Group in 1929, which he left in 1932, having moved to Novi Sad. Starting from 1938, he was based in Belgrade. He was a professor at the academies of visual and applied arts. In 1955, he staged an exhibition called Origins and Forms of Visual Expression in the ULUS Gallery. He was a member of the Group of Six, and he exhibited in the Salon of the Modern Gallery in 1962, and also at the Venice Biennale in 1968 as a part of the Yugoslav Selection. He had a retrospective in the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade in 1977.
In the introductory study of the said retrospective, M. B. Protić divided the voluminous and several-decades long opus of Ivan Tabaković into the First Period (1917-1950), and the Second Period (1950-1976), noting that there was a “dialectical leap“ in the artist’s opus precisely at the time of the Origin and Forms of Visual Expression exhibition. Aware of the far-reaching conceptual alteration in his own work, Tabaković in 1956 wrote the following: “I strive to explore visual representations in the sphere of science and philosophy as new sources of a wider, more universal and more timely visual concept. It is natural that this should imply a removal of previously adopted concepts with regard to the selection of and limiting the so-called painting motifs.“ And, in a different place: “At any given moment inside us and outside us, there are, there endure and there vanish incessant series of interlinked processes, phenomena and conditions of physical and psychical nature, which are reflected in our consciousness in the form of visual representations, definitions and names. Visual apprehensions are of changeable sense and significance such as: the world, life, death, motion, stillness, good, evil, warm, cold, beatiful, ugly, harmony, disharmony, etc.“ Tabaković’s postwar artistic production, except in painting and drawings, was also enlarged through combined techniques and collages with the use of fragments of photographs, in the series Phenomenology or Sources of Visual Explorations and Creation (1955), and Hidden Worlds – Visual Associations and Metamorphoses (1960-1968). Because of exceptionally thematic and medium-wise complexity, Tabaković’s works demand a special analytical approach tuned only into these. According to Lidija Merenik, in Tabaković’s work “many themes and ideas are being cyclically reiterated and they disappear over the course of years, and then they are linked with some other ideas or fragments, showing a flexible, quick, polycentric and non-linear creative concept, and method to whom the model of a dynamic model (structure) of a rhizome suits better than than the model of a tree trunk, logical, straight-lined, static and genealogical model.“ Therefore, it is only conditionally possible and justified in the Tabaković’s case, to carry out a classification by provisional categories of abstraction-figuration. In his case, the notion of “the abstract“ refers to the manner of understanding the phenomenon of nature instead of the presence/absence of apparitions or items in processes of painting, drawing, collage and montage forming.