Decoding Nasta Rojc’s Ilica Street Zagreb Painting: A Window into Croatia’s Past

Decoding Nasta Rojc’s Ilica Street Zagreb Painting: A Window into Croatia’s Past

Nasta Rojc was a Croatian lesbian painter who defied societal norms, famous for works like her 1910 “Ilicia Street” which we will be visiting today at the city museum in Zagreb, Croatia. Today you’ll find out why she was ahead of her time and probably hasn’t received the acclaim she probably deserves. You’ll not only see the painting but also hear a discussion with the museum curator about communist history in Yugoslavia and more about life for her in Zagreb and communist history, as well as visiting the spot of the painting today and looking at where she lived and much more. She was born in 1883 and died in 1964. Welcome to Art, Culture and Books with me Anthony King.

In her 1910 “Ilicia Street” painting Nasta Rojc meticulously depicts a recognizable corner of Zagreb, where she resided during that time. The artwork is distinguished by its attention to minute details, including the architecture of the buildings and the attire of the people who populate the street, reflecting the fashion of the era. Rojc’s skilful rendering captures the play of light and shadows, conveying a genuine sense of atmosphere. “Ilicia Street” not only showcases her artistic precision but also serves as a historical record of the urban landscape and the daily life in Zagreb at the turn of the 20th century. Join me in Zagreb at the exact location where it was originally painted.

As we stand before Nasta Rojc’s remarkable painting, I’d like to share a quick message before we start this recorded interview and discussion with our museum curator. Please be patient and remember, this is real history you’ll be listening to. English isn’t her first language, and she might be a bit nervous, but trust me, the conversation will get captivating. We’ll explore not just the art but also the intriguing intersections of art, history, and life in Yugoslavia, including insights into Rojc’s unique perspective and her relationship with the political climate of the time. So, let’s stay open-minded, engaged, and prepare for an enriching dialogue.

Thank you to our museum curator, from the Zagreb City Museum for joining us today and for sharing those valuable insights, shedding light on Nasta Rojc’s artistry, her perspective on the tumultuous period in Yugoslavia, and the unique historical context in which she created her remarkable works.

Nasta Rojc, the Croatian lesbian painter, was truly ahead of her time, breaking free from societal norms and expectations through her fearless and pioneering spirit. Her audacious self-portrait, “Self-Portrait in a Hunting Suit” from 1912, where she confidently wore a men’s suit, is a remarkable and likely world-first example of her defiance against gender conventions in the art world. Rojc’s life was marked by personal and artistic challenges, as she lived during a time when societal acceptance of her sexual orientation and unconventional artistic expressions was limited. However, her unwavering commitment to her craft, reflecting her progressive mindset, defined her as a true artist ahead of her time. As Rojc matured, she continued to paint, pushing the boundaries of her creativity and expressing her unique perspective. Unfortunately, her work and contributions weren’t widely celebrated during her lifetime, despite her talent and the boldness of her self-portrait. In her later years, Rojc’s life was marked by artistic exploration and personal struggles. Her journey ended in relative obscurity, far from the international acclaim she might have achieved in a more accepting and inclusive era. Nevertheless, her legacy endures, and her self-portrait remains a symbol of her defiance and courage.

Remembering Nasta Rojc allows us to honor her pioneering spirit, one that challenged societal norms and paved the way for future generations of artists and LGBTQ+ individuals. Though her story may not be as widely known, it is a testament to the power of art in breaking down barriers and forging a path towards a more inclusive and accepting world.