Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 1976.

Untitled, 1976.

New York

Sava Sekulic

Phyllis Kind Gallery
136 Greene Street
September 12–October 25, 2003

Croatian-born Serb Sava Sekulic (1902–89) brought a steadfast faith in humanity and nature to bear on his art, despite a life marred by war and privation. The paintings and drawings on view here are characterized by a forthright, piercing gaze that is both spiritual and earthly. The Shepherd, 1981, a portrait of a goatherd and two of his charges, is a thematic analogue to the redemptive, nature-oriented paintings of Franz Marc. The bodies of all three figures are rendered as a single rectangle from which three heads emerge, each wearing the same alert expression. The elegant geometry uniting this trio recurs in an untitled work from 1976, which depicts a figure that might be a cognate of Malevich’s late-’20s Suprematist peasants; fitted into the space under each arm are two ruby red birds bedecked with ornamental daubs of paint. In view of Sekulic’s prolific five-decade career, these twenty works, spanning the years 1966 to 1987, can’t fully represent the range of his output. They are nonetheless beautiful examples of the work of an exceptionally intuitive artist.