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Alfred Freddy Krupa - Surviving Personal Holocaust (or Entering TOP 10 Modern Ink Painters)

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by Ante Vranković

Translation from the Croatian original: Gabriel Alfred Krupa

Alfred Freddy Krupa (1971), dramatic, interesting and unpredictable artist[1].

His first art lesson came from his grandfather, Alfred Krupa[2] (Alfred Joseph Kruppa[3] 1915– 1989), Silesian Pole, graduate of Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. As a Polish defender from the first line of defense on September 1st, 1939, he ends up in various military and working camps. His sister was arrested in 1942 and finally on February 1st, 1944 at 8:20 AM she was burned alive in the crematorium of the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau[4]. Younger brother disappears somewhere in Eastern Europe, and older brother was captured and imprisoned by the Soviets. By the set of circumstances, in 1943 Alfred comes on the territory of occupied Yugoslavia and joins Tito's partisans. With no family, whatsoever, he decides to spend his life in this foreign land whose natural and ambiental beautifulness overwhelm him, capturing them in the thousands of aquarells that secured him earned popularity and fame.

Although at the beginning of a career he was still walking the grandfather's steps, by painting melodious landscape's symphony in the form of aquarelle, especially on the shores of four rivers of his hometown Karlovac, the finger of Fate chose Freddy, first by  formal education, then by dramatic life circumstances, definitely re-railing him into a whole other art direction.

After graduating on Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Freddy 1998-99 continues his specialization in Japan, as the first Croatian painter artist-scholar of the Japanese government[5][6]. And there he directly meets with Hakubyou (白描) monochrome painting with ink and brush on mulberry/rice paper, close to Japanese monumental calligraphy, and that experience will, but indeed with regressive delay, be crucial in his artistic forming: in his finding of authentic personal synthesis in approach to the Far East and traditional West, which by the beginning of this year brought him as only non-Asian individual place amongst top 10 Modern Ink painters (London/Berlin-based Artfacts[7][8]).

Art critique[9], even before Krupa's residence in Japan, noticed his „sketch lightness of drawing“ and „deepening of expression beneath effectiveness of the first impression“, but also a following of „rules of classic painting, order and transparency“ and „legible silhouette“.

By the return from Japan, and especially after the downfall with corrupted Croatian establishment[10][11], raw and impudently, that had no tact, nor respect towards his family[12][13] (grandfather teacher, inventor[14][15], boxer[16] and painter; father Mladen Krupa civil engineer, defender[17][18] and inventor[19]; himself teacher and defender) who obligated the city of Karlovac and the Republic of Croatia multiple times, Freddy's artistic expression changes in its very core. Motives are the same, but meditativeness and poetic impression of aquarellist treatment of river landscape of Karlovac and country are progressively taking its place, even as author himself says, „raw expression“ of painting undiluted, dense black ink, applied with dynamic, tense, almost nervous moves of the brush to soft rice paper in tradition of Japanese Hakubyou painting and even earlier Chinese ink painting based in „the Warring States period (戰國時代)“ which with its own insecurities, chaos and atmosphere of anxious expectation in a lot reminds of loathsome social situation of Croatia.

In his own chromatic and formal artistic reduction, in which the following approach of the East the whole drawing is sometimes reduced to one single continuous move- the line that represents „materialization of the flow of the artist's thoughts and emotions that follow the flow“[20], Freddy in a genuine way interpolates, actually watersheds expressionists and enformelistic – gesture  experience of the West, creating its own artistic synthesis, that is over the last few years internationally recognized[21] and accepted by a sequence of rewards and achievements[22][23], from China to the USA[24].

That personal and distinctive artistic synthesis, however, is not resultant of the artist's search for affirmation and success, or „recognizable penmanship“- Holy Grail for the majority of today's painters and artists – yet, how painter himself admits it – like a road and a way to a self-healing[25].

On the question what is a success – that he has been questioned in the country where 10% of the total population is on sedatives, the number of people suffering from cancer, blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic diseases that are always break its own previous records, the number of suicide committed by underage children is drastically growing on yearly bases and where 52% of high school students said that they see their future only abroad[26], and after entering the EU in 2013 10% of the total population has already left[27], stating that the main reason for leaving is injustice[28] (Croatian justice system, that artist experienced himself), is placed 120th in the entire world[29] – Freddy in one recent FB status responds:

„I think the success is when you are confronted with utter defeat of your world, your intimacy, your ideas, your public picture, your heritage, your previous achievements, when in one moment it looks like there is one and nothing that helps you, when almost every look is also a look of doubt, when you yourself  put everything under the question mark, when all the illusions about yourself fall, illusions about your surroundings, about people, about faith and religion, about flags, about objects of love and how much are you in love… and then, in that moment of „personal and private holocaust“, of that ocean of pain looking like all inner strength faded away and there is no right for excuses about your existence, when at that moment you „rise“ and keep „moving forward“, you start and you lead a creative and productive life. Yes, I think that is objective strength and power.“[30]


Ante Vranković graduated archaeology and art history and works as independent art critic since 1995. He has published more than three hundred articles in professional journals, cultural and art magazines, newspapers, as well as on the radio, TV, and Internet. He is a member of the Croatian Freelance Artist's Association since 2002.

































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