Collection > Jože Tisnikar


Oil and tempera on canvas

100 x 140 cm

inv. št. S 298


The self-taught painter Jože Tisnikar established himself as a singular phenomenon of recent Slovenian painting with his idiosyncratic portrayal of iconographic themes, often depicting the terminuses of human existence. What further contributed to his originality was his innovative painting technique, using egg tempera, which enabled him to achieve the typical colour palette of his paintings, effectively accentuating the uneasy atmosphere of the scenes he painted. His experience of living on the margins of society and the morbidity of the hospital environment in which he worked – and where he produced his first paintings in a modest studio – determined both the formal and conceptual frame of his world of extreme circumstances: his traumatic experience of a difficult childhood, the abyss of ongoing intoxication, or his proximity to the seeming futility of life, all stripped bare in his workplace. In addition to the scenes from the autopsy room in which he worked, Tisnikar’s earliest paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s also depict other motifs from the hospital environment, where scenes portraying hospital staff and patients emerge with a primal expressive strength. The painting Frog experiments is typical for the period and depicts a celebration of carnival at the hospital, with animals masquerading as doctors. The scene comes across as grotesque, but is not solely a figment of the artist’s imagination; like everything he painted, the painting is rooted in real experience.

Text: Marko Košan

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