Burned Village, Petar Lubarda (Ljubotinj 1907 – Belgrade 1974)
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 98 cm x 92 cm
Inv. No. 167/01
The White Palace
Petar Lubarda’s painting Burned Village holds a significant place in the Art Collection of the Royal Compound in Dedinje, as one of the important art works of Yugoslav artists, which started arriving into the collection after the 1960s. This particular painting can be traced through inventory books from 1985. Petar Lubarda is a typical Yugoslav artist, who spent his formative years in Paris. Inspired by the great artists and their masterpieces, after he returned to his home country he combined these influences into a specific personal style. Lubardas’ opus consists of a variety of themes that range from realism through abstraction to fantasy.
Burned Village was painted in 1949. At that time Lubarda lived in Montenegro. During this period, which ended in 1951, his style went through tremendous change. The form gave way to the colour and emotion, in other words realism turned into a lyrical abstraction. Signs of this transformation are evident in the painting from the Royal Compound Collection.
In the Burned Village painting we see a rocky landscape, overgrown with bush, while in the back, sketched against the bright blue sky are burned down houses. Rocks that are in the front view of the painting are a whirl of colors. Scattered bushes, with intensive accents of red and orange, allude to the fire that destroyed the village. Houses without roofs, in the colour of the stone, blend with the pointed edges of the rocks. As a contrast, balancing the composition, bright blue sky fills the upper half of the painting. Colour takes precedence over form and in the beginning it makes reading the landscape difficult, but once the landscape is recognized, that same technique intensifies the emotional response in the viewer.
Petar Lubarda was born in 1907 in Ljubotinje near Cetinje, Montenegro. He discovered art as a profession while in high school and in his senior year he organized his first exhibition. Lubarda spent several months studying in Belgrade Art School, and in 1926 he left for Paris where he enrolled into the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Due to the bad financial conditions he had to leave Academy, but he did not give up on art. Independently he educated himself by visiting Museums and art studios. During these early years Lubarada was mostly influenced by classical painters – Rembrandt, Titian and El Greco, and among the modernist -Paul Cézanne. In 1929 Lubarda had his first independent exhibition in Rome.
When he returned to Belgrade, in 1933 Lubarda organized his first independent exhibition in the French-Serbian Club. After that he participated in the spring and autumn exhibitions organized in the Cvijeta Zuzoric Art pavilion. In the Paris Exposition he won Grand Prix for his work displayed in the Yugoslav pavilion. During the World War II he was imprisoned in war camps in Germany and Italy, but he continued to paint. After the war he started working as a professor at the Art Academy in Belgrade and continued to exhibit his works.
In 1946 Lubarda moved to Cetinje, Montenegro, where he took an important roll in establishing the Art School and the Artists Association. In Montenegro his encounter with the nature had a crucial influence on his art. At that time Lubarda painted some of his most important works. These paintings represented a new, modernist, concept, and a turning point in his career. Most of these works were displayed in his big retrospective opened on May 1st 1951 in Belgrade AAOS (the Artists Association of Serbia) Gallery. Petar Lubarda died in Belgrade in 1974. He is the only Yugoslav artist whose painting was reproduced in Herbert Read’s “A Concise History of the Modern Painting”.