Petar Omčikus (Pierre Omcikous)
(Sušak near Rijeka, 6 October 1926 – Belgrade, 26 April 2019)
Following his participation in several group exhibitions by the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS) between 1946 and 1950, and his work with the Zadar Group, as well as his group exhibition with The Eleven in April 1951, and his first Belgrade solo exhibiton in the ULUS Gallery in November 1951, Petar Omčikus left for Paris, together with Kosara Bokšan (where they arrived on 9 May 1952). They strove, in a new and very advanced art scene, to continue and develop their beginnings as painters. In Paris, Petar Omčikus changed his hitherto visual expression and went for absraction, after he had made a series of gouache works during his short stay in Corsica, which preceded a series of following paintings: Blue Rhythm, Composition and Composition 3 (1953), are made along with Rose composition and Ocher and Blue (1954), and Abstract Composition from the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as Vertical Composition (1955), and so forth, all of which were composed somewhat before, simultaneously, and shortly after his Corsican series. Although they have abstract titles and respect the two-dimensionality of single-color painting space, while building their composition using independendent straight and broken lines, it is as if the majority of these paintings still keep a distant transposition of a representation of landscapes. Omčikus staged his first solo exhibition in Paris in the Arnaud Gallery in 1955. After he showed his Absract Composition during the May Salon during the same year, Belgian painter and critic Michel Seuphor makes an entry for Omčikus in a very significant Dictionary of Abstract Painting (Dictionnaire de la peinture apstraite, Paris: Fernand Hazan, 1954) in which he reproduced the Composition painting (1954).
We can notice, at the beginning of the 1960s, an application of a speedy and direct painting procedure in Omčikus’ painting, and this was prompted by his knowledge of the Art Informel experience (of which his painting titles such as Informel (1960), Informel in Brown (1961), Informel Landscape and Informel Movement (1961-1962), as well as Stormy Informel (1962) testify) as well as that of abstract expressionism. Although they bears descriptive titles, such as Tree in Blossom, these paintings are, in essence, a consequence of a momentary and spontaneous action of painting. The following statements made in the introduction of the catalogue of the author’s retrospective in the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1989 refer to this as well as several congenial paintings from the same period:“There are no compositional points in this type of picture, but the plane of the painting surface is dispersed and elaborated by segments of lines, their breaks, intertwining, separations, fragmentations. The very painting itself, a film frame which is delimited by its (picture) frame, a field which has been taken up by the matter of color, is, in fact, a fragment, a segment, a cutout from some bigger (higher, wider) whole. The painting is a place of concentration of painter’s work, a place of collection of his gaze, a focus of results of that work upon a single material fact (on subject, body of painting), but metaphorically, it is a view of the space of infinity, a largess stripped of boundaries; this is some imaginary territory whose fences are unseen, whose limits are unknown.“ But of the fact that the artist does not completely reject object-related information testify the following paintings and their titles: Light, and Sardines (1961), as well as a number of versions of Tree in Blossom (1961-1962).