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Zoran Music - la vita, i cavallini e i motivi dalmati     

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Zoran Music a Cortina

(Cortina d’Ampezzo, 21 February – 14 april 2009)


Daniele D'Anza





Zoran Music was born on the 12th of February 1909 in Gorizia, an Austro-Hungarian town in those days. Italian, Slovene and German were commonly spoken in that area, as a reflection of the multiethnic composition of the Absburgic Empire. Music himself says: “ I was born under Francis Joseph, at the beginning of the century, in Gorizia. I studied at the Academy of Zagreb. I became Italian in 1918, yet, after few years, I found myself out of Italy again. My father was interested in a kind of politics that was disliked by the men in power of the time. I spent my juvenile years in Austria, Dalmatia and Slovenia.”


In 1943 he went to Venice for the first time, which, as he himself admits, provoked a sort of awakening: “ It may seem paradoxical, but it is in Venice that I discovered the East. Just me, who was from the East. An Eastern world filtered through Latinity offered a solution. At last the dualism I had in myself, because of my origins, could find an explanation. No more was I forced to turn my back to the East to discover the West. The East and the West had been so deeply blended in that ancient Venetian civilization, that I realized that my tradition, as well as my truth, were there."


In Venice the painter started exhibiting and gained the favours of both critics and public, until he was arrested by the Gestapo in October 1944 and sent to Dachau. There he lived the last, most dreadful days, of the camp, when heaps of corpses grew huger and huger. During this tragic experience the painter made about fifty drawings, which are the highest testimony of the Evil in the concentration camp.


The aberrant captivity ended the following year in April; then he went back to Gorizia and eventually moved to Venice in October 1945.

Such experience could not but be mirrored on his vision of the world and, consequently, on his artistic expression. Music himself admits: “ I learnt how to see things from a different point of view. Not everything in my painting changed later. It is not true that I rediscovered a happy childhood as a reaction to the horrors I had lived. Little horses, Dalmatian landscapes and Dalmatian women existed even before. Later, however, I was able to see everything in a different way ...Dalmatian landscapes have come back, they have lost the superfluous and the gossiping. ... I really deserved — at least for my painting — this important lesson.”


After Dachau, the adherence to the natural datum remains, transformed, however, into a lyrical dimension, detached from the reality of things. Now Little Horses and Dalmatian Motifs tend to a stylistic and iconographic essentiality, uttering a statement beyond temporal actuality. They become the symbol of the temporariness of the human condition. They evoke a fairy-tale dimension, a happy primitive nomadism, which is also, and most of all, a nomadism of the soul, typical of one who lived as if uprooted and had to face dramatic events.

Passing Little Horses - fundamental in his artistic route — are placed on the canvas like musical notes on the score: delicate notes, coloured in various ways, almost a chord, a perfect harmony, which springs from earth.


The relationship between Zoran Music and Cortina starts in the summer of 1951, on the occasion of the “Premio Parigi", a contest promoted by the Italian Embassy in France and organized by the local “Circolo artistico ampezzano”, whose president was Mario Rimoldi. The event aimed at promoting Italian art in France, so the winner was not given a sum of money, as usually happened, but the chance of exhibiting his paintings monographically at one of the most important art galleries in Paris, in addition to the trip to Paris and one-month stay there.


Zoran Music was awarded — ex aequo with Antonio Corpora - the prize for painting, while Marcello Mascherini was the winner for sculpture. Music took part to the contest with three paintings: Passing Horses (1950), A Dalmatian Motif (1951) and A Landscape, either Umbrian or Siennese, of 1950. The important victory and the consequent personal exhibition at the Galerie de France, gave the artist some renown, especially in France, where gratifying reviews were issued on the main national papers. Such appreciation was confirmed by the proposal on part of Gildo Caputo( the director of the Galerie de France at those times) for an agreement, which allowed the painter to open a studio in Paris, in addition to the one he had in Venice.


Cortina was, therefore, a real stepping-stone for Zoran Music and, with the passing of the years, it became so important to the artist that he later dedicated some of his pictorial cycles to the Ampezzo Valley. The first cycle, known as Flowers in Cortina, bursts out in the Sixties. It is an explosion of vitality, conveyed through a palpitant drawing, with bright shades and hues of lilac and violet. The sensations the artist had while wandering along the mountain valleys had immediately been drawn on the paper, to be later painted on the canvas or engraved. A chromatic liveliness, unknown till then, uncontrollably springs up in these works.


In the second half of the Sixties the attention of the painter is focused on the rocks, the ruined stones fallen down from the mountain and now lying scattered at its foot. The wonderful cycle of Rocky Landscapes is born from meditation in the shadow of the Dolomites. Music paints the rocks detached from the high mountain, without a perspective: the sky on the background creates no space, just outlines the horizon with a grey, pale blue, light, almost fading, uniform wall. Fallen stones, fragments of a partly broken mountain, now lie by each other, gathered either in apparent chaos or in mysterious circles looking like irregular primitive churchyards.


On the Dolomites Zoran Music finds an original quintessence with the cycle of Landscapes featuring either the Cinque torri, or the Becco di mezzodì, or the Nuvolao or the Averau. His artistic enthusiasm creates paintings as well as drawings and drypoints, where the artist’s delicacy and sensitivity reach the sublime in a great poetical interpretation. The mountain is also, or, better, most of all, a formal structure indissolubly linked to an attitude of the soul: what emerges in these works is not the interest of a geologist, but the massif in itself, out of any frame, evoked better than outlined, wrapped in a foggy mist and somewhat dimmed with a perpetual haze. This is uttered by a light and almost monochromic mould of the pictorial matter, which thickens on the surface, allowing the warp of the canvas to appear here and there: it is evocation without definition.



Daniele D’Anza

Editor of Exhibition Zoran Music a Cortina

(Cortina d’Ampezzo, 21 February – 14 april 2009)



Michela Fonda