(Novi Banovci (Stara Pazova), 5 October 1930 – Belgrade, 18 December 2014)
Mira Brtka graduated from the Academy of Theatre and Film in Belgrade in 1953 as well as from the Accademia di belle arti of Rome in 1963 where she stayed since 1959 working with painting, and short films as a screenwriter, assistant director and scenographer, but also a fashion designer and translator. She had her first solo exhibition in Rome, in the Artflex Gallery in 1964, after which she took part in the Forme presenti (in Scorpio Gallery, 1964) and 6th Biennale Romana exhibitions in 1968. She belonged to the Illumination group, and participated in the group’s only exhibition, staged in L’Argentario Gallery in Trento in 1967. She established her first contacts with the Serbian art scene by participating at the III Triennale in Belgrade in 1967, and at the October Salon in 1968, after which she had solo exhibitions in Novi Sad (in the Gallery of Contemporary Art) and in Belgrade (in the Salon of Museum of Contemporary Art) in 1970. Following an intensive exhibition activity in the following years, her retrospective entitled Mira Brtka – Unstable Balances (1962-2012) was staged in the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina in Novi Sad in 2012. Painterly beginnings of Mira Brtka in Rome during 1960s took place in the atmosphere of late Art Informel, after which soon followed a phase of a resolution overcoming of informalism in the context of post-informalism artistic climate, in monochromatic paintings like in the Construction (Construzioni, 1965) series, in collages, tempera on hardboard and cardboard in which she introduced intensive pure color in optically active curved formes, and in a series of particularly coloristic paintings of geometric and organic abstraction of “hard-edges“. This was a period of her joining the Illumination group founded by a Japanese artist, Nobuya Abe, who as a spiritual “teacher“ of members of a small artistic community (to which Milena Čubraković also belonged), inspired by ideas of “enlightement“ and “illumination“ upon the foundations of ancient oriental spiritual teachings.
After white paintings from the Construction series, and monochromatic dark-brown Construction XV (Construzione XV) dated 1965, Mira Brtka’s painting, at the time of her joining the Illuminaiton group, and participation at the group’s exhbition in L’Argentario Gallery in Trento in 1967, there was a noticeable pre-orientation towards introducing pure colors organized in complex rhythmical relations. This conceptual transformation could be clarifed with the atmosphere in the group whose orientation was under the influence of Nobuya Abe in line with the statement published in the introduction to the catalogue of the said exhibition: “Color has been satisfied with the additional role of an interpreter of nature. For contemporary artists color should be light in itself – light is color of human spirit separated from the rest of nature“. In order to emphasize the independent role of visual elements, includig pure color, in paintings painted in the tempera technique on cardboard, and collage on paper in works such as Untitled (Senza titolo), around and after 1970, Brtka, in a neutral white or light-grey background, set apart forms divided by coloristic segments subject to strict structural order of symmetrical fields mutually separated by clear contours of hard edges – in painterly terminology. An artist of multidisciplinary education and experience in the area of film, fashion, and above all, painting and sculpture, whose formation started in the domestic environment but continued in Italy, who was as a member of the Illumination group involved in international contexts, Brtka unified international and local, autonomous artistic and engaged activist social behavior (by starting the Bunker Bureau Association in Stara Pazova in 1994, and by being a member in the internatinoal Bureau for Preventive Imagination in Rome).
Contstruction (Construzione IV) (1965)
combined technique on panel,
90 cm x 120 cm
140 cm x 100 cm