Review from Ivica Balagović: „I think a lot before signing“

I would like to present Stjepan Đukić Pišta, to the audience in Rijeka and exhibition consumers so that they accept him as an artist for the first time during physical presentation. He is an artist who finds his primary motivation in painting, but does not fall behind in other forms of artistic expression, such as radio hosting, creating radio and television shows, writing poetry and essays, participating in music festivals as a songwriter, and much more.
That’s why I used one of the artist’s quotes and stated it in the title of this review. It summarizes the essence of Pišta’s approach to artistic creation.
Some time in the past, when we were spending time together, he admitted that the most difficult moment for him is the one right before signing a painting. This is when he questions whether he has created a good piece of art, regardless of whether the painting was commissioned or created spontaneously from internal instincts. At that moment, he intensely ponders the future and the purpose of the work itself, about himself as an artist, his overall activity and the necessity and need for such actions. Consequently, he contemplates whether he should sign the painting or not.
For me, this testimony seems to be the foundation of the artist’s overall work. It provides insight into the unrestrained force of creative energy that has characterized Đukić for many years.
Another distinctive feature of his uniqueness is his long-lasting, seemingly eternal smile that he has when expressing emotions, whether they are encounters, satisfaction with what he saw or heard, or just the presence of someone or something.
These two psychosocial elements, critical evaluation of his own work and extreme kindness when communicating, are the fundamentals of Stjepan Đukić Pišta as a painter.
I believe that this introduction is crucial because, after such thoughts, our reception of everything that has been done by the author becomes completely clear.
The paintings that we see here today are representations of several creative phases of the author’s work, but they all share one identical quality: exploring the world and life in Pišta’s unique way.
If we delve a little deeper, we can notice a significant shift from one phase to another, primarily in the technical sense, which shows the development of various painting techniques. And of course, the question that immediately arises: is the retrospective era approaching, the time for balance, and is it time to mark and summarize impressions of his work? The amount of phases that are clearly determined and time-defined in Đukić’s work will undoubtedly be discussed by other art critics. However, in this exhibition dedicated to Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture, we can detect the author’s figurative work, all types of abstraction, portraits from hyperrealistic moments to central highlighting of the portrayed object - in the style of Rembrandt’s late phase, where the most important part of the painting is centered, while the rest is brought in a fluttering manner, without details, occasionally blurry, sometimes in a naive style and deceptively imprecise.
The time the author spent on his education, not only in our homeland but also abroad, confirms the abovementioned - his longlasting uncovering of the world around him in firm interaction with his imagination, internal questioning of the most intimate contents of the soul, and the expression of artistic gestures of all kinds.
Perhaps the greatest achievement is Đukić’s engagement in portrayals. A large amount of the author’s beautiful paintings are portraits. These portaits are actually his core business. The public first found out about Stjepan Đukić because of his portraits of many notable people, both historically significant and our contemporaries. In each portrait, we can see that the author accepted the challenge given by the portrayed person. He analyses that person by seeking the strongest expression in the painted, the most valuable in the personality of the observed object, while clearly and strongly showing his authentic approach, which does not tolerate suggestions or possible desires. This is especially evident in what could be called repetitive portraits, i.e., paintings of the same individuals, created at different periods of their lives and in different circumstances. Perhaps this, roughly speaking, obsession with the object gives the paintings the genius, generosity, education, and mastery of the author, which, combined with Pišta’s specific techniques, creates beautiful art works.
The subjects of every human existence are people you talk to. We participate in the reception of new works and the reconsideration of existing paintings and that makes us essential for him as the creator of these art works. This essential need keeps him, as a painter, in the fullness of artistic being, with a meaningful mode of existence,
and it provides us with pleasure.
When I was taken to the Hermitage, I was told that no one could conclude how Catherine the Great really looked like based on her existing portraits.
So what? Why shouldn’t we accept the chronological sequence, perhaps economic – commercial or economical sequence? Stjepan Đukić Pišta tells us precisely this with his repeated and repetitive portraits, including selfportraits in various forms, where he shows that each portrait is a novel, a coherent work limited by time. And then, according to the law of deconstruction, he breaks down the portrait - novel into essential components and assembles them again, repeatedly painting the same person. Of course, there are set limits and frames that the author-painter has (he himself says: “I have learned discipline”), limits up to which he can play and abstract individual parts of the painting. Undoubtedly, all of this results in the complexity of the portrayed. However, portraying people from the real world is not the only way he approaches portaits as an art form. Stjepan Đukić Pišta also sought his peak in painting saints.
As a continental Croat, maybe even a northerner, which seems like a relevant fact, Đukić paints sacred Christian motifs, mostly portraits of saints in a true religious procedure. Sacred motifs in portraits show incredible seriousness of the author’s approach, especially in a realistic style enriched with a special technique of bas-relief. When we ourselves, or by following the painter, visit churches, chapels, pastoral halls, and other sacred places that adorn Đukić’s paintings, we notice how these paintings convincingly and clearly enhance the sanctity of the space.
The action of this exhibition does not only take place in figuration or portraits. The powerful coloristic expressiveness of the author’s landscapes, especially abstractions of both organic and landscape types, captures the attention of viewers. Contemporary tendencies urge painters to try painting abstract works, especially in the context of the latest trends from abroad, so it is clearly visible that our author readily responds to such signals and challenges. The reception of such thematic ventures by Pišta is astonishing. People simply remain amazed and
astonished by the power of these works.
In conclusion, I claim that Pišta has a good life, which should not be a pathetic and banal judgment. As I initially wrote, my desire is to present him as a man who is doing a job he loves, in a way that transforms his artistic strength and energy into paintings. The phases of his artistic work rhythmically alternate, in their own accord and following God’s providence. To accept all of this, we need to carefully observe his works, reflect on them, and certainly enjoy them.


Review from Marija Lamot: „Painted Silence“

The artistic creation of Stjepan Đukić Pišta, in its fullness, covers multiple phases, as it is obvious in this retrospective exhibition. However, these phases do not unfold chronologically but they alternate from one to another. Stjepan Đukić, in his phase as a skillful portraitist with clear distinctions of lines and colors, shows the internal characteristics of the portrayed person. On the other hand, in his paintings of landscapes and depictions of people, he transitions into an impressionistic phase of immediate experience, capturing subjects with flashes of light and color. This can be seen in several paintings such as Arx Trakorum, Zagreb Haze, Under Old Roofs, In Blue Satin, Towards the Promenade, Trach Party (Gossip Session), Promenade in Tabor, Encounter in Veliki Tabor,
Tabor Elegy, My Land, Memento Mori, Beyond Time, In honor of the Unknown Woman, The Last Tango, Lost Portraits, Insrciption in Time, They are Me Whom I Do Not Know, View from the Studio. The titles already hint at the mysticism of space, a captured moment, time of day, reality and unreality, revelation and secrecy. In the real foreground where the subject appears, the painter is using density of light and color to conceal the contours of objects only to reveal their true, hidden nature in the deeper layers of the unreal background. “A work of art puts the truth to a test, a truth that we can not reach in any other way” (H. G. Gadamer). The most immediate experiences, devoid of redundancy, are reduced to pure forms, abstract representations, the breath of life extracted from concrete beings, is transformed by the artist’s breath into art. Colors become internal characteristics and lines unknown boundaries between beings. Subjectivity in the pursuit of truth through beauty contains no higher principle “than keeping oneself open” to interpretation and dialogue. The concept of beauty brings us into contact with the concept of the truth, leading to a metaphysical questioning in general. (H. G. Gadamer) This can be observed especially in the painting Arx Trakorum, where the glimpses of the castle become lost in the search for origins from which it emerges. By delving into the depth, through the opposition of secrecy and revelation in the unreal background, it is possible to interpret the ontological status of all beings. In the painting In Blue Satin, the depicted twilight evokes feelings of anxiety and uncertainty of travel, departures and transitions. The relationship between the concrete and the abstract is also present in the painting View from the Studio. From the studio which is located at the top of the hill, there is a view of the morning landscape in the fog. Layers of white and blue colors strongly outweigh the outlines of the landscape in green, yellow, red, and purple colors. What is concretely depicted by
color becomes a characteristic of the abstract which is shared by beings, experiences and feelings. In this way, the concrete and the individual becomes abstract and universal.
The third phase or the third approach to aesthetic expression by Stjepan Đukić Pišta, in the concept of this exhibition, is made up of 26 paintings: Power of Red, House of My Childhood, Blue Flower for Lisa, The Road that Leads to Nowhere, For the Unknown Woman, In the Name of the Dark Emperor, Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh, Pulse of My City, Cosmic Chaos 1, Cosmic Chaos 2, Happy Paths, Condensed Thoughts, Coronation, Homage to Edo Murtić, Letter to my Mother, My Home, Ranemona, Here I Am, World, Your Land, Sinking in Time, Touch of Silence, My Friend Norch Having Coffee, Reminiscence of the State of Mind, Emerald Remnants of Time, Cry, King of Everything, Nightmare. Those are mostly organic abstractions, showing the immediacy of experiences, feelings, thoughts, the absence of themes, objects, forms (informalism).
Dreaminess and solitude, reducing the senses, descending into silence beyond the limitations of consciousness. In intuition, in the search for truth and meaning, the depiction of ultimate silence, the absence of objectivity, is a kind of cosmogony, the preexisting sound, voice, line, color, number, plane. Abstract painting. Abstraction portrays the most concrete reality, devoid of natural and artistic forms, beyond the determinations of time and space, and it gathers common characteristics arising from different perspectives of reality. P. Cézanne clearly
stated in the 1880s that the goal of art is not the reproduction of visible reality but the creation of a new one which would be parallel to the one that we see (
An exceptional painting Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh, which interprets the tragedy of literary work, the universal tragedy of man and his existence throughout history. Partially figurative and partially abstract, it depicts the flow of beings, literally swimming underwater, water plants, grinding teeth, skulls, life, and death. He uses geometric abstraction to mark the red and black spikes in the framework of existence itself.
Overall, the artistic creation of Stjepan Đukić Pišta, with its various expressive approaches, is an artistic endeavor in finding the answers to universal questions of the universe and existence by delving into the external and internal beauty of things and beings. By depicting the internalness of humans, souls in portraits, the beauty of the body in nudes, mysterious landscapes and the secrecy of beginnings, conscious and unconscious of the human spirit. Exploring the first beginnings in the universe and the origin of worlds. Using intuition while being liberated
from external influences in abstract paintings, the painter enters the realm of cosmic vastness, movement/rest and the realm of eternal peace. He paints the silence of beings and existence.


Review from Hrvoje Kovačević - Your land, exhibition by Stjepan Đukić Pišta

In this exhibition, Stjepan Đukić Pišta is exhibiting seventy of his paintings and it is his largest exhibition so far.
Regardless of that, it is much more significant that this exhibition represents, or rather describes, the last twenty seven years of the painter’s creation, from 1996 to 2023. Stjepan Đukić Pišta is a prolific author. During this period, he has sold numerous valuable paintings that are not available for this exhibition. A truly remarkable series of portraits has been created after commissions and they now hang on the walls of satisfied clients. He is an artist who does not stay calm, who is not satisfied with what has been achieved, he is constantly evolving, progressing, exploring, and discovering new possibilities and expanding horizons. This exhibition vividly demonstrates just that.
I met the artist in 2010 while he was working on the collection Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh. They are also represented in this exhibition with two paintings. After completing the series, he continued moving forward and
started working on the next collection in his studio, A Grain of Salt in the Cathedral of Spirit. I eagerly awaited every new painting that shaped him during that time.
He painted around 15 pieces and moved on. The restless artistic spirit forced Pišta to experiment. They are Me Whom I Do Not Know is a new collection that emerged from the previous one. Perhaps realizing that he would not find answers to the questions that preoccupied him in the world of adults, he turned to children, their games, relationships, and reflections of the world in which they found themselves in.
He moved on once again and devoted himself to paintings for an exhibition in Križevci. While working on this theme, Pišta meticulously explored all the information and data connected to the rich history of Križevci. He later focused on Saint Mark of Križevci, the well and churches in Križevci, and especially their towers that appear in all the paintings of this collection. Pišta also decided to return to his collection A Grain of Salt in the Cathedral of Spirit enlightened with the knowledge he gained during experimenting. After some time, he embarked on new
The majority of the author’s themes are landscapes, castles, and, in particular, people that often appear in landscapes and in front of castles, either in motion or static. During the last two years, he has shifted his focus towards the abstract. Abstract motifs have also appeared earlier in his work, but one of the many values of this exhibition is that it provides insight into the artistic path he has been on in the past twenty five years that has led him to a specific contemplation of art, that is his recent abstract paintings.
In recent years, and even decades, art has found it increasingly challenging to impose a new perspective of the world. As we stand in front of a building, we think about the guiding principles that the architect had in mind during the design process. The film industry is increasingly creating remakes of old classics. Music is reintroducing
songs popular in the 1960s and 1970s through cover versions.
The consumer society is undoubtedly contributing to that situation. Art consumers are under strong and constant pressure from marketing experts.
Stjepan Đukić Pišta manages to stand out from the general lack of inspiration. On the one hand, he knows what messages he wants to convey to the observer of his work, and on the other, he has enough energy to fully carry out his intention.
While reflecting on his work, Stjepan Đukić Pišta always uses people as his starting point. He tries to understand them because they are the ones that shape history.
They travel from birth to death and influence the fates of other people in many different ways which are sometimes barely comprehensible, intentional or involuntary, sometimes even accidental or inevitably accidental.
Another major theme that Stjepan Đukić Pišta focuses on is the confrontation of opposites, or the tension he achieves through the confrontation. He brings in strong movement to the peacefulness of Zagorje hills, dynamics to a static environment, solid forms to soft greenery. It goes without saying that the idea itself is not enough for a high-quality realization. It takes a refined sense of composition that Pišta undoubtedly possesses.
It is precisely this sense of composition that gallery visitors first notice in the paintings. Pišta toys with the dynamics of images with inherent ease. Sometimes he uses pure geometry and sometimes he creates strong tension, depending on how the characters feel in the role that the artist assigned to them.
The third theme is history. Pišta achieves what many artists attempt, but only a few succeed in: he connects history and modernity and, by doing that, he achieves timelessness.
The apparent ease with which he does this is deceptive. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit Pišta in his studio and directly hear his reflections and witness the agony of creation. Everything you see in these paintings was preceded by research, doubts, sleepless nights, wandering, searching, and finally finding. In the end, I believe that those of us who respect his work are more pleased with these paintings than the artist himself. Then again, this is the fate of all great artists.
All of us are in these paintings. Pišta has shown us for what we are, what ails us, what we aspire to be, and what are the idols that we worship. He tells us who we are and what we are. And where we are going.
In doing so, Stjepan Đukić Pišta is not a judge but a chronicler.


Paintings in this collection:


  • 01tz_veronika_desicikaThe legend of Veronika of Desinić, Bas-relief
  • 02tz_taborska_elegijaTabor Elegy, Bas-relief
  • 03tz_moja_zemljaMy Land
  • 04tz_prema_promenadiTowards the Promenade
  • 05tz_promenada_u_taboruPromenade in Tabor
  • 06tz_susret_u_velikom_taboruEncounter in Veliki Tabor
  • 07tz_zapis_u_vremenuInscription in Time
  • 08tz_trac_partyTrach Party (Gossip Session)
  • 09tz_arx_tracorumArx Tracorum
  • 10tz_miljanaBas-relief
  • 11tz_u_plavom_satenuIn Blue Satin
  • 12tz_posljednji_tangoThe Last Tango
  • 13tz_autoportret_prema_dureruSelf-portrait According to Dürer
  • 14tz_memento_moriMemento mori
  • 15tz_zagrebacka_izmaglicaZagreb Haze
  • 16tz_incitatuslncitatus
  • 17tz_dva_koraka_do_kraljaTwo Steps Towards the King
  • 18tz_predahRespite
  • 19tz_rastoke_zimiRastoke in the Winter
  • 20tz_vu_ime_carnega_caraIn the Name of the Dark Emperor
  • 21tz_veronika_2Veronika II
  • 22tz_jin_jang_taoJin, Jang i Tao
  • 23tz_neznanoj_u_castIn honor of the Unknown Woman
  • 24tz_oni_su_ja_kojeg_ne_poznajemThey are Me Whom I Do Not Know
  • 25tz_na_kraju_danaAt the End of the Day
  • 26tz_vlastaVlasta
  • 27tz_djecacki_snovi_malog_frankaBoyish Dreams of Little Franko
  • 28tz_massimoMassimo
  • 29tz_s_one_strane_vremenaBeyond Time
  • 30tz_ars_enARS en
  • 31tz_neizvjesna_slobodaPrecarious Freedom
  • 32tz_boginja_josipa_lisacGoddess
  • 33tz_rastoke_zimi_slikoreljefRastoke in the Winter Bas-relief
  • 34tz_obicno_jutroA Usual Morning
  • 35tz_pozornica_zivotaStage of Life
  • 36tz_majka_i_dijeteMother and Child
  • 37tz_balade_petrice_kerempuhaBallads of Petrica Kerempuh
  • 38tz_pod_starim_krovovimaUnder Old Roofs
  • 39tz_bezvremenaTimeless
  • 40tz_poluakt_s_konjimaSeminude with Horse
  • 41tz_izgubljeni_portretiLost Portraits
  • 42tz_susjeda_s_plavom_ruzomNeighbour with the Blue Rose
  • 43tz_zoraDawn
  • 44tz_moja_lisaMy Lisa
  • 45tz_jutarnja_toaletaMorning Routine
  • 46tz_ekstazaRapture
  • 47tz_reminiscencija_na_stanje_duhaReminiscence of the State of Mind
  • 48tz_kralj_svegaKing of Everything
  • 49tz_vapajCry
  • 50tz_moj_prijatelj_norch_na_kaviciMy Friend Norch Having Coffee
  • 51tz_kozmicki_neredCosmic Chaos
  • 52tz_plavi_cvijet_za_lisuBlue Flower for Lisa
  • 53tz_sretni_putoviHappy paths
  • 54tz_ranemonaRanemona
  • 55tz_kuca_mog_djetinjstvaThe House of my Childhood
  • 56tz_most_za_dvojeA Bridge for Two People
  • 57tz_smaragdni_ostatci_vremenaEmerald Remnants of Time
  • 58tz_pismo_materiLetter to my Mother
  • 59tz_dom_kakav_zelimMy Home
  • 60tz_zgusnute_misliCondensed Thoughts
  • 61tz_tvoja_zemljaYour Land
  • 62tz_put_koji_ne_vodi_nikamoThe Road that Leads to Nowhere
  • 63tz_krunidba_homm_edi_murticuCoronation, Homage to Edo Murtić
  • 64tz_neznanojFor the Unknown Woman
  • 65tz_dodir_tisineTouch of Silence
  • 66tz_snaga_crvenogPower of Red
  • 67tz_pogled_iz_ateljeaView from the Studio
  • 68tz_puls_moga_gradaPulse of my City
  • 69tz_evo_me_svijeteHere I am, World
  • 70tz_potonuce_u_vremenuSinking in Time
  • 71tz_kosmarNightmare

Contact me

Ravnice 89A, 49124 Veliko Trgovisce, Croatia (all inquiries)

+385 91 50 90 348 (Pišta, croatian language only)