Mirna Krešić, Monographie 2022. Edited by Pascal Lansberg Gallery

Mirna Krešić, giving shape to painting.

Born in Croatia, Mirna Krešić chose to live in France. Winning a scholarship from the French government in 1984 opened the doors of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, having studied a diploma in the same field in Zagreb. Since 1986, the artist has lived in the City of Lights, where she works in the pictorial medium, employing oil on canvas and sometimes Indian ink.

It feels like today we have forgotten the 1980s, a period of intense activity in the sphere of painting, partly in reaction to the minimalist and conceptual movements of the previous decades. This epoch saw the emergence of the Free Figuration artists in France, including most notably Robert Combas and Hervé Di Rosa, and in parallel in the United States artists of the stature of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, without forgetting Miquel Barceló and Francesco Clemente, in a different register. In this context so favorable to painting, Mirna Krešić was ready to embark on her own path and forge her own style.

Born together with the 20th century, non-figurative painting continuesto build up and dismantle the challenge it presents, in a testament to its vitality, as it continues to evolve. Over three-quarters of a century after it first emerged, abstract art still tests the boundaries of its powers, posing the eternal questions about the viability of its system of signs, while some believe that the history of abstraction has come to an end. The history of abstract art, despite the break made by those in favour of restoring the object, adepts of Pop Art and militants of the critical or narrative image, saw a careful rehabilitation beginning in the late 1960s, with the groups BMPT, Support-Surface, Abstraction Analytique and later, in the United States, with Color-Field and Hard-Edge, not to forget the influence of Geometric Art, whose foundations underlie most minimalist endeavours. Even at the height of the return to figurative art, in the 1980s, abstract art never ceased to challenge contemporary artists, with their respective anchor points, approches and aesthetic deductions. Mirna Krešić is no exception and asserts her own style, which cannot be confused with that of any other.


Mirna Krešić works in a visual universe that is almost always nocturnal and darkened by heavy rainstorms. A blackness that clings to the canvas and that becomes her trademark or signature. More than that, a style. It was André Malraux who said that style is the most powerful weapon in painting.

Towards the end of the 1990s, in a series titled Playing with waters, Mirna Krešić painted sumptuous small format works depicting often minimalist landscapes, accumulations of parallel lines, both vertical and horizontal, always suggestive, memorial, where the abstract is not absent. Sometimes the line thickens and curves into enigmatic floating forms on a sea of horizontal lines. The black ribbons are cut into countless marks.

In the works in the series Shadows, an effervescence sown with chaotic tensions comes to light. Mirna Krešić demonstrates, as if it were necessary to be reminded, that painting is a visual phenomenon in itself that follows intrinsic necessities. The artist acknowledges her undoubted debt to Abstract Expressionism, which amounts to focusing the emotional load of the action itself.

The linear darkness is pursued under every possible guise, in masterfully controlled nightmares to the point that the horizontal or vertical and white filaments illuminate the crest of dark waves. As it departs, the aerial ballet sometimes organises itself in harmony with mysterious oval forms of light, like apparitions.

Colour also makes an appearance in Mirna Krešić’s work, notably in the series Days, with abundant flowers flooding the field of some magnificent canvases in reddish hues. New compositions embracing the possibilities of pastels and oil on canvas came in the 2010s, expanding on this escape from the earlier shadowy visions. In these polychromatic works, lines appear that are no longer parallel but begin to make up geometries, sketching buildings, sometimes reduced to simple roofs. Mirna Krešić calls them Fields and Temples. She covers these paintings with a network of sinuous micro-structures, creating an optical illusion that appears to lift the surface and push it forward in relation to the real visual field. Between Constructivism and Geometric Abstraction, Mirna Krešić’s explorations in these works revolve around a primary form, and the artist confidently organises the visual plane by means of overlapping segments and rectilinear strips. All this is achieved with a remarkable formal rigour.

For several years now, the Croatian artist’s works have asserted their consistency, and often their austerity. Enlivened with chalky areas and fissured expanses, they are riven with filaments and islands of craquelure, and tears that suggest steep cartographies. Kneaded, fractured, but above all heightened by a raking light, the surfaces bear witness to the density of relationships. A movement that prolongs their duration. Deliberately limited to the principal hues, the colours spread out and rebound off their neighbours, entwining in calligraphic vines and shifted shapes.

Taking possession of the canvas sometimes brings about a mood of uncertainty. Further on, the line affirms its presence, continuous and discontinuous, associated with gaps, stains, rings and graphic accumulations generated by the authority of the artist's hand. The ensemble, outside of all decorative temptation, is borne by a sense of seriousness. A painting of silence and of absence: that is the work of Mirna Krešić, which is all that we do not see. Contemplating her paintings is not a question of joy or blissful admiration. In this universe of great lucidity, in constant movement and ready to unveil itself, the laws of gravity are ignored and, through a strict economy of means composed of oil paint, pastel or Indian ink, combined in a pregnant sensuality, Mirna Krešić’s work becomes enigmatic. Tracing an independent path that has reached full maturity today, the painting of Mirna Krešić is endowed with a thirst for the absolute. At the crossroads of European cultures, witness to our epoch, with a demanding spirit, she offers us and occupies a choice position in the prism of images of our time.

Dr. Henry Périer


Zagreb 2001, text written for the catalog of the solo exhibition at Gradec, Klovićevi dvori Museum.

In the environment of trans-avant-garde enthusiasm of he colleagues in the eighties, her painting struck me as somewhat restrained and detached. I had no information about her for a while. Somewhat later I heard that she was in Paris, and I was convinced she would not fail. After all, the work that has founded all of its hopes in itself plainted the seeds of its future early on.


Should I wish to tell a story about stability and continuity, there is no better example than the work of Mirna Krešić. Should I wish to speak about the variableness and dynamism of growth of an œuvre as a whole and its numerous faces, Mirna Krešić's painting again presents itself as a prime example. The peaceful evolution of her style and the steadiness of her œuvre have never erased the marks of mornings and morning dew from each and every of her works.

Accordingly, we can speak about the intrinsic maturation and fermentation of her œuvre, and about a certain culturological transcendence of modern heritage (L'art informel, material-quality, structuralism, lyrical abstraction, tachism...) which originally had very little in common with any aesthetic inclinations or segregations. Mirna Krešić was attuned to a more sensitive world and chose not to anonymously entangle and sacrifice it to the community of generational "bad painting". Even when some of her artistic features brought her closer to them (for instance in 1982 and 1983) she remained different. She was special then and she is special now.

This renewer of personality, this advocate of her personal way, has found her way between the extremes of intellectual dryness and excessive debauchery of "bad painting" by her generation. Even when her works bore the fermenting germs of neopainterly philosophy, her structures gave rise to a special sensitivity and a different offspring. And there are no regrets about it. Like Šop himself, when compared to her generation, she appeared as a "painting cosmonaut who had lost her connection to the parent ship". She has known her way around the world she created.

The formal kinship between her earlier and later works does not serve to testify to a consistency of style, bu trather to the consistency of being. It is a configuration of personal development and maturation that expressed itself in her actions and " above all " in her being able to turn matter into feeling.

Numerous characteristics of her work paint a picture that is better defined by attributes than nouns.

(Maybe that is why she gives no titles to her paintings.)

She is more interested in the nature of things than in their names.

In his text about Mirna Krešić's painting from 1983, Tonko Maroevic speaks of "high seas... comets... starry nights of magic, enchantment, wonderment..." To all of these we should add her deep and strong intuition, and her pronounced feeling for the nature of her materials (canvas, paper, ink, the qualities of tone, properties of blotters and stains) and we get to the nature of language that determines a person as much as her childhood does.

Our research could start from the earliest works (1993 and 1994), from relief surfaces and the nearly opaque layer of matter furrowed by white lines. The painting is full of some informal, earthen matter. In its nocturnal and non-transparent character the white lines appear as a pure luministic element!

Subsequently, the density of paint layers develops into structures of variably-sized stains surrounding traces of light. She enriched the surface of her paintings by spilling, dripping, impressing her hand and fingers and so on. In her works from 1996 and 1997 the relation between black and white creates the impression of a palimpsest or a crust surface covered in writing. Under these structures, traces and imprints we sometimes discern raw pieces of canvas, whereas a black stain on one side finds its analogy in a differently-colored related form of the other side of the field. Over the last two years she continues to deal with numerous linguistic, evocative and sensitive powers of a painting and she brings to it free dripping, i.e. "water-color" ("rainy") characteristics of paint. In some recent works she has been covering canvas edges by opaque backness or color, subsequently suggesting the flow of wide coloristic columns along the vertical axis.

Finding a basis in her earlier œuvre, Mirna Krešić's latest works exhibit the airiness of a coloristic register in which light has been assigned the task of a certain inherent structural truth. Moreover, stains in her paintings possess a certain "kinetic quality", which is equally hungry for the sun. This pronounced sensitivity to color and organization of form is more intuitive that projective.

Light is her great them! All strokes, all forms and structures become more visible through light. Light makes matter more airy. The "inside" light in a stain or color modifies and enlivens matter. It is capable of picturally softening the crust of things in the hard, bitumen-like and opaqua mass. No matter how miniature this trace of light may be, it opens up space, pulls in the viewer, multiplies structural levels, relativizes opaqueness. At the same time, nuances of tone turn better visible and colors, imbued with light, feed the "sub-skin tissue" of matter.

Allowing ourselves a certain free flow of associations, we could speak about "spatial imagination" and compare this œuvre with "weightless states" or "poetic expeditions" of the poet N. Šop. Alternatively, we could be seemingly contradictory and speak about the "spontaneity of method" that "promptly finds its way and its language in order to survive" on the road of "a new and unknown language". Mirna Krešić achieves this through light-induced transformations of mass that is pulsating, "moist", structurally and poetically convincing. Mirna Krešić always brings us something new, if not innovative. Poetic deliberations take part in all analyses. Consequently, the methodology of construction and the freedom of stroke and stain create a fascinating fresh and sensory quality of the surface, which reveals meditative and poetic elements alongside the more pronounced relief and materialistic qualities.

Mirna Krešić has been working on herself free from the imperatives of style and the exclusivity of a happily found personal sign. She has been playing with her artistic environment (past and present) and probing the question of modern and contemporary art heritage. As far as she is concerned, Mirna Krešic knew how to give her nature a distinct form.

Where there is no energy, there is no sensitivity. She dreams on the rough ground of matter and all the density, all faces, forms and structures poetize phenomena that normally do not inspire tenderness. As a result, her ability to submit faces to change and metamorphoses finds no easy analogies. This work has found its way, forged its own destiny - the past and the future!

Still, for the love of analogy, care for details, documentation and similar, here it comes! Estève, Inshio, S. Francis, Suzuki, D. Judd, Debré, the metaphysics of space by Joshihare or Laganne, or spatial hieroglyphs by Teshigahara or De Latour, numerous lyricists of the post-war school of Paris, or, why not? dekalkomania and reflections of light found in Motika - although these consonances are vocal rather than real, and, least of all, nominal.

Although a member of the generation that defined itself as conceptual, transavant-garde or "prehistoric", Mirna Krešić has quietly explored painting methods and material, light and airiness. She has introvertly searched for a certain evocativeness of stains, crusts, smears and imprints, and harmonization of structures set in motion. In her paintings matter becomes permeable and airy, filled with light despite of its density, the poetic being of a painting.

She knows how to equate form with matter and matter with form, and to add depth to her works by "piercing" and enlivening seemingly opaque crusts by flashes of luminous color marks (most frequently yellow or white). These stains of light do not serve to brighten the surface, but to stress the complexity of structures that retain traces of spontaneous approach and formative consciousness.

Mirna Krešić regards painting as the sacred locus of her being. Her answer to provoking remarks about the "old-fashioned nature" or apocalyptic abolition of easel painting is a carefree and unperturbed sneer at the long-expected, but impossible, death of painting.

We pass through these spaces of order and coincidence, along the paths of an artist who built her own self so sturdily in rain and tender frost of her states.


Zagreb 2001, text written for the catalog of the solo exhibition at Gradec, Klovićevi dvori Museum.

In order to approach the work of Mirna Krešić by words, we should choose the most direct way, the one leading to the rich structures of her painting material, to rhythmic and arrhythmic systems. In her constantly-changing painting the artist plays with differences between related phenomena. Although she has abandoned iconic and narrative references, Mirna Krešić does not disclaim scenes, events, coloristic dramas and lyricism, light, space, ductus. Without a tellurium support and horizon, without the identification coordinates (without titles), she paints that which is deep, infinite immaterial; that which is moving, stirring, condensing and diluting, which is waning and disappearing, or is just being born. All that which exists without reliable, predictable and experience-based props, because we are facing the sensation of painting per se. And this painting does not cease to exist at its edges. It continues to exist simultaneously on all levels, suggesting expansion beyond its physical limits.


In Mirna's paintings (in series and cycles) strokes and stains of color (as unit-particles) form layes that transform into a temporal weaving, building new dense and thinned relations, where light appears as the most important substance. In the absence of strong colors, light lives through vibrations of black and white, gray and blue stains. Within a single painting there will be spots where particles are "languid" and spots where light transforms them into a vibrating field, but they always remain within the character of painting.

The totality of her œuvre is ruled either by light or by darkness. As if we were witnessing the first day of genesis when light is separated from drakness and days is separated from night. These are the moments when light liberates colors and renders is movable and alive. Mirna Krešic uses stains of color to set the dynamics of her paintings. In the process, she cannot evade the valeur system, the overlapping, blending and complementarity of relations beween stains and matter.

A kind of an alchemic process of emergence and disppearance is unwending before our eyes in flickers and quivers, transparencies and density. In endless grayness, whiteness or yellowness, through thick layers of strokes (from left to right) flow the images of gently, "fluid" wavy configurations. In the middle, there is a sign - a square (white, black) - that strikes symmetry or stretches and turns into an illuminated, dimmed, blurred or "sunk" rectangle. Light is the strongest in the most lyrical of her works - pieces that owe their transparency and lightness to the "vacillation" of her stroke in the horizontal, linear, as well as in the dynamic, rhythmic and simultaneous tonic weave.

Although it may appear as an exaggerated and inappropriate comparison, here we find a kinship with the flexible, gentle weaving of numerous artists and advocates of "poetic ambiance". For example, what is literal (gallery, room) space for Ivana Franke (to mention only one of them), is the surface of a painting (within the limits of its format) for Mirna Krešić. The flexion of nylon thread, beads, flakes made of Chinese paper, cotton fluff or suspended paraffin tablets arranged along a structural axis in Franke's work can be compared to the structure of stains, spots, dots, drips, chance and material quality in the painting of Mirna Krešić. The work of both artists, their changeability and the ability for transformation, internal dynamics, relationships between stains, rhythmical diffusion or density and saturation of grouping, exhibit a kind of reflection that they share. Declarations of similarity can only be justified if comparisons are not apodictically literal and hard.

Mirna's paintings reveal a kind of subtextual diversion of Mondrian's American experience, painting transmutations of Fontana's spatial concetta or spacial structures of S. Francis... Don't you think that Mirna's squares appear as a certain animated paraphrase of Malevitch - like hand-written supremacy of a square or Fautrier-like transcription of a material sign into sheer luminism? If we put these similes aside, we testify to the extraordinary ability of the artist to chose the methods and materials in keeping with the nature of her ductus and to articulate her world by defining its proportion and nature.

Mirna Krešić has an exceptional and uncommon power to produce new, wonderfully cultivated organisms by lexical mutation.


Paris 1990, text written for the catalog of the solo exhibition at the François Majault Gallery.

Hors des séductions de l'esthétisme, la peinture de Mirna Krešić s'inscrit d'emblée dans un univers de la rareté. Une seule question l'anime : que peut la matière ? Ainsi met-elle en œuvre une véritable ascèse de la forme. Ne lui accordant aucun crédit, elle l'interroge dans ses fondements. Elle construit en creux.

Le trait a la maladresse et la puissance, mue par la nécessité, des dessins d'enfants, des graffitis aux murs des prisons ou des signes d'une humanité à ses origines. La ligne brisée, pleine d'hésitations et pourtant ferme, ne campe que des constructions rudimentaires et fragiles qui ignorent symétrie et harmonie mais tentent de tenir un volume, une entité solitaire, duelle ou en jeu avec d'autres éléments (disparition, rencontre ?...). La perfection du cercle n'y a pas sa place mais y conserve sa dynamique, revient sous sa forme oblongue, ouvre des béances.


Bien que parfois étales, lisses, glacées, les surfaces ont néanmoins, souvent, la mémoire de la main qui les a tracées. Elles conservent des empreintes, des coulées. Cependant, elles sont là pour éprouver l'espace, l'élargir, le creuser, créer des plans divers et multiples. Elles renvoient vers qui regarde la brillance diaphane et hallucinante de leur éclat ou se perdent dans l'infini sombre de la profondeur. Quelquefois simplement elles jouent comme fond, elles structurent. Le noir jette alors son opacité en haut de la toile, marquant la limite - séparation élémentaire mais menacée - de l'horizon.

Enonçant une gamme très riche de gris colorés, la couleur se montre aux marges d'elle-même, au bord de devenir noir et blanc, ombre et lumière. Avec parfois un cri : un rouge qui tranche ou bien au contraire une tache chaude de terre, naturelle, brute.

L'ancienne confiance dans le combat entre Ordre et Chaos n'a plus cours dans cette peinture. Née au cœur du trouble, elle veut opérer une remontée vers les sources mêmes de la forme, l'en-deçà de la matière pour tenter, par ce mouvement de dépossession, de permettre l'émergence d'un nouvel équilibre, et d'arracher ainsi à la blancheur ses aspérités et à la nuit ses lueurs.