Franjo Klopotan

One of the creator of surrealisms in Croatia, also accepted in Encyclopedia of Croatian Art, Franjo Klopotan is distinctive artist, very prominent outside Croatian borders.


FRANJO KLOPOTAN was born in the village of Presečno, near Varaždin in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region, on September 16, 1938. First he learned the photography trade and briefly worked in this profession. Later he completed nursing school in Zagreb. He began painting in 1959. He held his first exhibition in Zagreb in 1963. After this he went to Hamburg, Germany, and worked as a restoration technician in the local city museum.

He completed schooling for retouching deep print and worked for the journals Hor Zu and Quick. Based in Hamburg, he worked throughout Europe: he held independent exhibitions in almost all major European cultural centers. He represented the Federal Republic of Germany at the World Exhibition of Naive Art in Bratislava and Oslo in 1973. His paintings can be found in the best-known galleries in Europe and America, while seven of his works are on display in the Museum of Fine Art in Hamburg.

He returned to Croatia in 1970 and settled down in his native Presečno. Due perfidious Yugoslav manipulations, he was always neglected at home, so that the former Gallery of Primitive Art in Zagreb did not have any of his paintings. This injustice was recently rectified when the Croatian Museum of Naive Art in Zagreb, when preparing its permanent exhibition, dedicated due consideration to the works of Franjo Klopotan. His inclusion in the monograph Miracle of Croatian Naive Art (1996) in the chapter dealing with the classics of Croatian naive art only formally confirmed a fact of which the Croatian artistic public was long aware: Franjo Klopotan is one of the most important Croatian naive masters with an international reputation, the greatest phantasmagorist to appear in the last sixty years of Croatian naive art.

He lives and works in Presečno. Everything in Klopotan's paintings is superficially the same as before: continually present are combinations with vegetation, skies still dotted with birds that bring romantic spring-time landscapes, the painter continues to return to biblical motifs, and the same stories still pull their charming carousels with flowers, yet everything is different, altered, dislocated from the past: new doors to the (non)reality are opened, as the boundaries of poetry are more boldly and decisively extended, new possibilities for spontaneity and primal relationship with the world that surrounds us are tested and sought with passion. Klopotan stands at the fateful crossroads of present-day painting. Here is a painter from whom Croatian naive art expects new creative feats, new excitement and new worldwide recognition. Here is a painter from whom Croatian naive art expects the achievement of some as-yet unseen heights in the years of his full creative maturity.