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Anton Cetin distinguished Croatian painter in Canada
By Dr. Vladimir Goss | Published  02/14/2010 | People , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Celebration of the universe and infinity, of love and myth

Anton Cetin, Croatian painter

Anton Cetin: Eve and Butterfly

Anton Cetín was born in 1936 in Bojana, Croatia. He studied printmaking and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb where he graduated in 1964. From 1966 to 1968 he lived and worked in Paris, France. In 1967 the image of Eve was born in Paris. Since 1968 he has been living and working in Toronto, Canada as a professional artist.

Anton Cetin: Hope

He has held 135 one-man exhibitions: Atelier E. No?l, Paris, France, 1968; Isetan Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 1974; Art Gallery Hamilton, Canada, 1978; Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles, U.S.A.,1979; Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico, D.F., 1979; Salon XX, Bogota, Colombia, 1981; Gilman Galleries, Chicago, U.S.A., 1983; Museum of Art and Craft, Zagreb, 1986 Croatia; Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 1986; Beverly Gordon Gallery, Dallas, U.S.A. 1987; Oberhausmuseum, Passau 1990, Germany; Sony Plaza Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 1991; Gallery 7, Hong Kong, 1993; Museo del Chopo, Mexico, D.F., 1993; Crystal Palace, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1994; Museo Mcpl. de Arte J.C. Castagnino, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 1995;

MGC - Gradec Gallery Zagreb, 1996 - this became a travelling exhibition in Croatia until 2000 in the cities of Bjelovar, Čazma, Pazin, Poreč, Pula, Varaždin, Split, Karlovac and Osijek; Hermann Hesse Museum, Calw, Germany, 2000, Anton Cetín Gallery, Čazma, Croatia, 2001; Multicultural Art Gallery, Halifax, Canada, 2003; Museum Mimara, Zagreb, Croatia, 2004; csi..., Vienna, Austria, 2004/2005; Gallery Kula, Split, Croatia; Vukovar City Museum, Vukovar, Croatia; Kamern Theatre, Sarajevo, BiH; Museum Mimara, Zagreb, Croatia, 2005, 2007, 2008; Gallery Murska Sobota, Murska Sobota, Slovenia, 2007; The Print Studio, Hamilton, Canada, 2007; "100 Parisian works" in 10 museums in Croatia, 2006-2008; Gallery Moos, Toronto, Canada, 2009 and others. He also participated in more than 200 group shows world-wide: Museum of Modern Art, Krakow, Poland, 1972; Palais de la Scala, Monte Carlo, 1973; Brockton Art Center, U.S.A., 1974; Nat. Library of France, Paris, 1978; Colectivo Palmo, Malaga, Spain, 1979; Space Art Gallery, Seoul, S. Korea, 1982; II Cabo Frio Internat. Print Biennial, Brazil, 1985; Nat. Library of Canada, Ottawa, 1990; Art Asia '93, Hong Kong; Olympic Games, Atlanta, U.S.A., 1996; Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China, 2000; Círculo del Arte, Barcelona, Spain, 2001; Centro Histórico, Mexico City, Mexico, 2003; CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, Holland, 2005; Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, 2005 and others.

A deluxe monograph about the life and work of Anton Cetín, with a chronological survey from 1955 to 1986 was published in 1986. The text was written by Dr. David Burnett of Toronto. In 1975 he published his first folio of prints Eve and the Moon, and in 1988, together with Croatian writer S. Šešelj published a folio Amerika Croatan America containing a poem and prints. In 1989 he was received by Pope John Paul II in Rome. Several documentary films about Cetín's life and work were produced. A new monograph about Cetín's life and work, with a chronological survey from 1951 to 2004 was published in Zagreb (Alfa, Art studio Azinović), in 2004. The text was written by Branka Hlevnjak of Zagreb.

He has received several awards and honours for his work. Canadian Croatian Artist Society chose him Artist of The Year for 1986. In 1995 he received from the Government of Croatia two honours: The Order of Croatian Danica (Morning Star) with the image of Marko Marulić and The Order of the The Croatian Interlace for special merits in culture.

In 2001 he did two editions of lithographs for Círculo del Arte, Barcelona, Spain. Also in 2001, in the city of Čazma, Croatia, a gallery was inaugurated in his name. The Anton Cetín Gallery holds a permanent exhibit of his works.

His works are found in Nat. Library of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario Collection, Toronto, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada, Museum of Art and Craft, Zagreb, Gallery Klovicevi dvori, Zagreb, Nat. and University Library of Croatia, Zagreb; University of Michigan, Dearborn, Princeton University, U.S.A.; Museo del Chopo, Mexico, D.F.; Juan Martin Gallery, Mexico; Salon XX, Bogota, Colombia; Embragel, Cabo Frio, Brazil; Crystal Palace, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Vatican Collection; Nat. Library of France, Paris; Oberhausmuseum, Passau, Museum Hermann Hesse, Calw, Germany; UNESCO, Sony Plaza, Tokyo, Japan; Círculo del Arte, Barcelona, Spain and many others.


 Anton Cetin and Vladimir Novak in Idaho; source

Croatians in America - photo collection by Vladimir Novak

Woodcarving by Luka Biondić, designed by Anton Cetin, photography by Vladimir Novak.

Ovaj Hrvatski nacionalni grb s trobojnom zastavom  dizajnirao je proslavljeni
hrvatsko-kanadski umjetnik Anton Cetin. Proizvodio se od 1970. godine u Los Angelesu, a prihvaćen je u iseljeništvu diljem svijeta.

This Croatian national coat of arms with the red-white-blue flag was designed by well-known
Croatian-Canadian artist Anton Cetin. From 1970's it was produced in Los Angeles and was adopted by Croatians all over the world.


Picture Cetín has a personal style in his use of line, creating a world of forms symbolizing the freeing of the spirit and universe. The author of the collages, etchings and drawings is inspired by the Metamorphosis of Eve and Space sequencies. From these themes, though ambiguous, Anton Cetín proposes a strong statement.

Alain Viray, Brussels, Belgium, 1974

Another theme, and one certainly more important because less incestuous, is that of change, transformation and metamorphosis. Even the titles reveal this Heraclitean tendency. Cetín's drawing Metamorphosis of Eve handles a complex theme with technical ease and it represents one of the best works in the show.

J.A. Forbes, Toronto, Canada, 1974

An artist who never decided to make a single religious motif, and whose many works could find a place in the Lord's temple, points principally to the question of the humanization of the world by art and to the question of the humanization of art by life.

Dr. Vinko Grubišić, Canada, 1977

Cetín's work is a celebration - of the universe and infinity, of love and myth, of inspiration and memory, of Nature. For Cetín, Art civilizes and humanizes. An artist deals in spiritual truth. He creates because he has no choice.

Dr. Gordon McLennan, Toronto, Canada, 1978

In viewing the work of Anton Cetín I was struck with the overall quality demonstrated in his paintings, graphics and drawings. His imagery (usually represented in the form of graphic symbol for Eve), is paradoxically personal and strange, yet familiar and comfortable. Looking at Cetín's work is a visual trip to discovery. The more one looks at Cetín's work, the more one wants too look; and hopefully, the more one learns and changes.

Glen E. Cumming, Hamilton, Canada, 1978

The Art of Anton Cetín has a clearly defined sense of direction. It involves a continuing probe to clarify man's sense of his own spirituality. It attempts to deal with the broadest vision of man - the quest for confirmation of his own identity and its relationship to infinity and eternity.

Gerry Moses, Toronto, Canada, 1978

Eve, as it turns out, has been the muse who made it possible for Cetín to become a North-American painter, without giving up any of the essential symbolic imagery he has drawn from his European roots

James Purdie, Toronto, Canada, 1978

Anton Cetín is an artist continually in exploration of a single theme, a theme from which he has wrought rich and compelling variations. His symbol for Eve represents for him the totality of humanism. She is renewal, sharing and all that is positive in the human spirit. For more than a decade, she has been the theme of delicate stipple drawings, brilliantly executed portraits and large, mural-sized canvases; she dwells equally in monochrome and riotous colour. She summarises many years of experiment and achievement for the artist. The variety and richness of the artist's most recent works suggests that Cetín has still more creative turns to coax from his symbolic muse.

Paul Duval, Toronto, Canada, 1979

Without a doubt, one can talk about Cetín's own world of imagery, an offspring of what Kant called "combinative imagery", in which pseudo-egyptian profiles and enigmas, of middle-eastern flavour, abound full of charm. Eve - embodying in the most abstract sense everything that is a woman and feminine - is the leitmotif of the musicality captured by Cetín's polychromous works. To her he dedicates his world which may perhaps be born of her. Because woman, and particularly loved one, is perhaps the richest source of imagination.

F. Gil Tovar, Bogotá, Colombia, 1981

The enthusiasm for Cetín's "Eve" series is based on admiration of his superb printmaking technique as well as his sophisticated imagery. Indeed, Cetín is an udisputed master of multi-plate color etching whose technical expertise matches the originality of his subjects.

O.P.C.G., New York, U.S.A., 1981

"Contemplating his paintings one feels like travelling along the Visual Diversities". Anton Cetín's parallels, single-tracks and circles have suggestive and meditative effects and expressing their own rhythms they obtain important musical consequences. The human faces were reduced to the masks so that the persons became "Signs and symbols". The aquatints, oil paintings, pastels as well as his beautiful lithographs are inviting us to the contemplation. In this apparent escape one can find himself.

J.H.E., Mannheim, Germany, 1981

Cetín has, throughout the course of his career, held to a determined and individual path. Relationship between responses to experience and determinations of direction, was explicitly expressed by his decision to make his artistic activity all but exclusively dependent on forming images of one particular figure, the Eve. The potential of the image, both in pictorial and symbolic terms, is inexhaustible. The integrity his creative activity lies wholly in his pursuit of that potential.

David Burnett, Toronto, Canada, 1986

The mystical and vitalistic triad consisting of the woman, the bird, and the flower undeniably has its traditional roots in the spirituality of womanhood, featuring the cult of the life-giving feminine, the spirit symbolized by the bird, and by the flower which is love and nature itself.

Tomislav Ladan, Zagreb, Croatia, 1989

Another major asset of this exciting artist is his steady development. He creates HIS language of visual expression, he provides the viewer with ever new and surprising variations of his thematic obsession. The latest set of prints use the following techniques in various combinations: etching, aquatint, collagraph, relief embossing and woodcut. The new element in these works is a fresh and hitherto rarely seen lyricism, a flow of lines which sings and dances.

In this new series the artist works geometric forms into the overall picture as snippets of modern architectural drawings or buildings. The human being, i.e. Eve, and the frequently appearing birds show the lyric flow. It is a marvelous juxtaposition.

In several prints of this series maple leafs are incorporated, obviously a nod to the Canadian national symbol ("Window to Another Dimension"). These maple keys as Cetín calls them are different for each print. The artist uses a different "key" in the manner of collage.

Franz Geierhaas, Journal of the Print World, Meredith, NH, USA, 1991

What kind of an image of the woman or the feminine does Anton Cetín portray? Clearly, it is a woman archetype, an image of Eve, born out of purity and a clarity of perception of a unique being. She is formed from within an inner harmony and supernatural lightness, free from all earthly encumbrance. Anton Cetín sees Eve as a spiritual entity, one which moves without limitation, and which can be recognized only by those who are prepared to let the wisdom of creation carry on in their own inner selves, a creation in which the human as such is only a small detail.

Rudolf Wesner, Germany, 1995

Even though Cetín's emigrant fate may have severed him from the old country from time to time, in no case has he been erased from the index of Croatian artists and from the history of contemporary Croatian art. He remains its inseparable companion. Cetín's concentrated poetic symbols are going to represent a link in the chapter on purism in Croatian figuration which has been lacking in the European continuity of (recent) Croatian art.

Josip Depolo, Zagreb, Croatia, 1996

The lines which comprise the figure of Eve are a testament to the artist's meditation on the spirit. They are effortless and true, dancing on the canvas or paper with lyrical energy; the evidence of a muse at work through the artist's assured hand. Eve's cheek glows with the colourful concentric circles which represent the radiation of life - the life she breathes into Cetín's world of line and brilliant invigorating colour.

Stuart Reid, Toronto, Canada, 1996

Abounding in variations fixated on motifs of personal emotions between lyricism and symbolism, between poetic inventiveness and crystallization of elevated ideals, Cetín realizes a suggestive enchantment ofhis artistic conceptions and inspiration.

Dr. Nedjeljko Mihanović, Zagreb, Croatia, 1998

The manner in which Cetín establishes the relationship between Eve and the bird is quite fascinating. By building suprareal relationships of space he attains a total, unrestricted and multivaried interpenetration of the woman and the bird. Through a symbiosis, Eve and the bird flow into one whole, into a unity of man and nature, of the material and the spiritual, the real and the supernatural, mutually complementing each other in the realization of a perfect harmony.

Vilim Matić, Osijek, Croatia, 2000
About Symbols: A Cetín painting can be reduced to four symbols. Three of them obvious - woman, bird, flower, whereas the fourth symbolic place is literally a place, i.e., the unlimited picture space in which the woman, the bird, and the flower levitate. Cetín's space remains unlimited, just like the Universe, or it is defined only by Cetín's linearity, which has become a concept liberating the symbol in this process accompanying it until it turns into a pictogram.

Anton Cetín's peculiar expression is defined, as we have stated, by summing up the symbols, cosmic summaries conveying lapidary serenity. Therefore, within the planetary corpus of contemporary art we recognize them as Cetín's symbolic syntax. The essence of his opus may be defined by an anthological work listed by the Croatian Encyclopedia of Visual Arts: Flower from my Beloved. Eve's spiritual symbols are, in Cetín's interpretation, both flower and bird, not infrequently joined in one as a flower-bird. These are the points of recognition of perfection, of spiritual links between the land and the sky. The flower is, formally, a reflection of perfection, geometrically speaking it is in terms of progressive symmetry that point in space which sublimates and projects perfection. Therefore a flower could be interpreted as a diminutive Garden of Paradise, or Hortus Conclusus. In Cetín's art it is a symbol of the soul, and it undoubtedly projects the harmony which existed in the primordial Garden - of Eden. Along with stylized flowers in this Cutout from Paradise, another name we may attach to Cetín's work, we often find a bird mediating between Heaven and Earth, summing up both the natural and the supernatural. The Flower - the Anima, and the Bird - the Animus, literally levitate within a Universe of a frameless picture.

Lilijana Domic, Zagreb, Croatia, 2002

The terrifying casualties of unsuspecting victims in an event that shocked the world, September 11, 2001 when the twin towers of the WTC were attacked, prompted Anton Cetín to the painting of a new cycle entitled Universe Disturbed. In his full creative maturity, Anton Cetín has created an opus of youthful vigour. The Universe Disturbed is rhythmically new, buoyant and dashing, interesting, demanding, questioning, provocative. In these paintings, everything is familiar and all Cetín's own, but it is now put in new relationships. Cetín is here committed, involved in the human and artistic struggle for beauty, for harmony, for spirituality, for fulfillment. He has directed his creative and visual commitment against aggressiveness.

In the opus Universe Disturbed, Anton Cetín has confirmed one of his basic traits. He is a committed painter. He has always been one. As early as in his Art Informel beginnings, in his phantasmagoric prints, and later through the heart- shaped forms of Eve and the symbols that are the basic forms of his expression. Cetín's commitment is universal. He is an eternal fighter for the achievement of the higher spiritual values, for a higher quality fulfillment of life.

The painting of Anton Cetín is deeply immersed in its age. Numerous events, personal and social, have determined the direction of his painterly engagement. We might well call Anton Cetín a reflexive painter, for whom the form itself is object of consideration. This is a painting of abiding power, permanent freshness and simple communication.

Branka Hlevnjak, Zagreb, Croatia, 2004

From the very beginnings, Cetín accepted references from a broad spectrum, questing through space and time for the kind of symbols that through a multitude of combinations would end up in artistic projects of the most refined imagination.

Cetín's art in the selection of visual signs and global metaphors reveals an artist who not only knows the pictorial events on which the painting reposes, but at the same time the investigative nature that steadfastly searches for the inner light of man's spiritual landscape.

Cetín has succeeded in constructing an identifiable visual system within which the moves never take place drastically, rather gradually and subtly, in a sequence of research into elements of structure and colour, never wanting in spiritual commitment. And finally, Cetín is in accordance with his epoch, and his painterly procedure, candid and produced at several levels, is allusive; he does not neglect communicativeness and the need, precisely with his work, to construct identifiable resorts of spirituality.

Tonći Šitin, Split, Croatia, 2005

It is surprising how the classical text "Toward a New Laocoon" by Clement Greenberg (1940) claiming that pure form shuns literary contents and should be experienced by "feeling" rather than "reading", is applicable to the mature phase of Cetín's art. An experience of a work by Cetín, however, includes always a poetic content, which we "read", or "experience", in a lunar interplay of weightless forms levitating in endless voids of planes and light. Cetín has created his concept of eternal, unobtrusive life energy, and endowed it with perfectly compatible forms.

Vladimir P. Goss, Zagreb, Croatia, 2006

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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