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Alfred Freddy Krupa

Alfred Krupa

"In his manifesto (New Ink Art Manifesto, 1996, publ. 2019) Krupa describes his ink painting as an interpretation of western modern art with the means of East Asian ink technique, as a combination of contemporary painting and traditional Chinese-Japanese calligraphy.
In this regard, he is considered one the leading representative of Modern European ink painting."
Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon - World Biographical Dictionary of Artists

Considered as the western Master of the New Ink Art Movement, a pioneering force in the New Ink movement (Aesthetica Magazine No. 90 /York, UK/) and one of the TOP 10 Modern Ink Painters (ArtFacts, Life As A Human, District Artisan etc.). His contributions to this movement are well recorded and have helped promote a once-isolated style exclusively practiced in the far east, to western culture.
Krupa is best known for his “modern ink paintings” of unruly compositions that feature a diverse array of subjects spanning nudes, landscapes, and motifs inspired by Japanese wood-carvers (Hypebeast Art).
Alfred Krupa is the first living Croatian artist included on the Ranker’s list of famous painters (Reference, Listopedia/Lists of Facts).
Lui Shou-kwan /(1919-1975), credited with founding the New Ink Painting Movement/ and his followers (up to the present times) reinterprets Chinese ink art in the form of Western modernism.
Krupa is doing something essentially opposite/different from Shou-kwan and his group, he reinterprets Western modernism in the form of Chinese ink art (District Artisan /Miami, USA/).
Alfred Freddy Krupa, the creator of the New Ink Art Manifesto, is considered the pivotal figure in the Western New Ink Art movement. Inspired by the ink practice of Japan, where he used to live, Krupa uses dense black ink to create tense, raw and direct art that reflects his minimalist approach (New Ink Art Movement: The Rising Popularity of Contemporary Ink Painting Art Acacia, San Francisco, USA/).

Artworks of Alfred Freddy Krupa has been exhibited/presented in London, Paris, Arcueil, Budapest, Detroit, Portland, München, Úbeda, Karachi, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Ljubljana, Beograd, Tirana, San Juan, Anshan (China), Orange (NSW, AU), Fabriano, Bensheim, Eindhoven, Katowice, New York, Fier, San Jose, Split, Zadar, Karlovac, Valjevo, Santiago and many other places.
A freethinker and secular humanist.
Krupa graduated in 1995 at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb (est. 1907 as the Royal College for Arts and Crafts (Croatian: Kraljevsko zemaljsko više obrazovalište za umjetnost i umjetni obrt). Krupa also studied Art History (non-degree research) at the University of Zagreb (1997,1998) and in 1998/99 as the postgraduate research student (The Monbukagakusho Scholarship (文部科学省奨学金 Monbukagakushō Shōgakukin)) at the Tokyo Gakugei University (東京学芸大学) or Gakudai (学大).
Listed artist at the Kassel Documenta (european-art.net), the Getty ULAN, the Allgemeine Kunstlerlexikon (Artists of the World), the Whos Who in American Art 36th/current edition, the Arte Al Limite 38th edition, the Aesthetica Magazine 90th edition, the Institute for Modern Art in Nurnberg (european-art.net), the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Dpt. Prints and Drawings), the Deutsche Fotothek in Dresden, the Central Institute for Art History in Munich, the MoMA/FF/Pratt Institute Artists Book Collection (not online), plus listed in the art libraries of the TATE in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (MSU), the University of Oxford Sackler Library (former Ashmolean Museum library), the Library of Congress in Washington, the Harvard University, the Princeton University, the Zurich University, the Zagreb University, the Rijeka University, the Split University, the Osijek University and the Zagrebački likovni umjetnici/The Zagreb Fine Artists portal, CLATIA.com (China), Abstractart.gallery, the Choses a Savoir ART (podcast - Things to Know /about/ ART), the perceiveart.com, Oslobođenje, Galerija Remek-djela (the Gallery of Masterpieces), artprice.com, Sarajevo Times, QUINQUABELLE, Mono Chroma Magazine, DistrictArtisan, ZzzClan, Vena Amoris, Port.hu, HRsvijet.net, Urbancult, Culturenet, Hrvatsko slovo, Školske novine, Revolutionart Magazine (Lima, Peru), CroatiaWeek, Talking Objects, Life As A Human, Beyond Calligraphy, Shixunwan.cn, KKnews.cc etc....


Overcoming a Personal Holocaust
by Ante Vranković (published in Life As A Human on Apr 5, 2019)

Alfred Freddy Krupa – born, 1971 – a dramatic, interesting and unpredictable artist
His first art lesson was with his grandfather, Alfred Krupa (Alfred Joseph Krupa, 1915– 1989), a Silesian Pole and a graduate of Krakow Academy of Fine Arts.
Alfred Krupa Sr. was a Polish defender in World War II and found himself in the first line of defense, as Germany’s armies and air force launched an attack on Poland in the early hours of September 1st, 1939. After the defeat of the Polish army, Alfred ended up in a long list of military and working camps.
Alfred had one sister and two brothers. In 1942, his sister was arrested in Gleiwitz and imprisoned for two years. At 8:20 am on February 1st, 1944, she was burned alive in the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau crematorium. His younger brother disappeared somewhere in Eastern Europe, and his older brother was captured and imprisoned by the Soviets. Circumstances led Alfred to occupied Yugoslavia in 1943, where he joined Tito’s partisans. With no family, and immediately overwhelmed by the natural beauty that surrounded him, he decided to spend his life in this foreign land. Ultimately, he would capture the breathtaking scenes in the thousands of aquarelles that would eventually earn him popularity and fame.
At the beginning of his own career, Freddy (as the younger Alfred chose to be called, so as not to be confused with his mentor) painted aquarelles, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. In his hometown of Karlovac (known as the town of four rivers), he captured many melodious symphonies of the landscape from the shores of those rivers. Then, the finger of fate stepped in.
Fate seemed to have chosen Freddy in two separate circumstances. Both had a profound impact, and he found himself heading in a completely different artistic direction as a result.
The first circumstance was the decision to pursue a formal education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. After graduating, Freddy took his talent to Japan where, in 1998-1999, he became the first Croatian painter/artist to receive the Monbusho Scholarship (now known as the Monbukagakusho Scholarship) from the Japanese government. It was there that he discovered Hakubyou (白描), monochrome painting with ink and brush on mulberry/rice paper, similar to Japanese monumental calligraphy. That discovery, albeit with regressive delay, was crucial in developing his authentic style, a synthesis of the Far East and traditional West. Freddy had already begun attracting attention from art critics and, with his newly developed style, continued to garner attention while in Japan. His sketches, lightness of drawing and deepening of expression beneath the first impression were unique, while at the same time, he was following the rules of classic painting – order, transparency and legible silhouette. Freddy went on to become the only non-Asian individual to place among the top 10 Modern Ink painters (London/Berlin-based Artfacts).
The second circumstance to shape Freddy’s career was the dramatic conditions he discovered upon returning home from Japan. He witnessed, first hand, a corrupted Croatian establishment that showed no respect towards his family (his grandfather – teacher, inventor, boxer and painter; his father, Mladen Krupa – civil engineer, defender and inventor; himself, a teacher and defender) and repeatedly obligated the city of Karlovac and the Republic of Croatia. Freddy’s artistic expression changed at its very core. His motives remained the same, but meditativeness and poetic impressions were now significantly less prevalent in his river landscape aquarelles and other works. There was the raw expression, his painting undiluted with the use of dense black ink, applied with dynamic, tense, almost nervous moves of the brush on soft rice paper. This was all done in the tradition of Japanese Hakubyou and earlier Chinese ink painting based in the Warring States period (戰國時代). The chaos of this period and the atmosphere of anxious expectation was now a reminder of the loathsome social situation of Croatia.
Freddy’s chromatic and formal artistic reduction followed the approach of the East, where the entire drawing is often reduced to a single continuous movement. The painted line represents the flow of the artist’s thoughts and emotions at the moment. Freddy began to interpolate this with the expressionism and Art Informel of the West, and once again created uniqueness in artistic style, gaining international acceptance and recognition from the United States to China.
That distinctive artistic synthesis, however, was not a product of Freddy’s search for affirmation or success, or recognizable penmanship (the Holy Grail of the majority of today’s painters and artists). Rather, it was, as Freddy himself admits, a road to self-healing.
Freddy thought often of his country. Too many Croatians were suffering from chronic disease, and suicide of underage children was on the rise. A staggering 52% of high school students admitted they did not see a future for themselves in Croatia, and after entering the EU in 2013, 10% of the total population ultimately left, citing injustice as the reason. Croatia was struggling with a justice system that ranked 120th out of 140 rated countries in the world.
Freddy was once asked how he would define success. This was his passionate response, taken from one of his Facebook posts:

“I think success is when you are confronted with the 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 the 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.”


by Francesco Scagliola (Italia) for Arte Al Limite (No.83, March 2017)

Alfred Freddy Krupa was born in 1971 in Karlovac (Croatia), where
there’s a confluence of four rivers: Kupa, Korana, Mrežnica, and
Dobra. And by chance or destiny, water became a fundamental creative element during his future work as a painter. For example, one day, Alfred was walking on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, which reaches the Croatian coasts. At that time, he was still studying art and, as is often the case with students, his steps probably ran ahead one after the other with a fast pace on his way to class. Alfred held a folder full of designs beneath his arm: drawings made with sepia ink. As is often the case on the Adriatic coast, a gust of wind swept the seafront hitting the young painter –unprepared by then– and the entire content of the folder flew into the water. Alfred hardly managed to rescue his works: “...I discovered something completely new for me. And after that, I often practiced the ‘bath’ of my works at sea. In a conceptual level, this form of art is completely real and on the edge of the global artistic explorations of our time.
However, beyond the coincidences and anecdotes, Alfred Krupa recognizes as an impetuous inspirational source the figure of the homonymous grandfather: one of the most outstanding watercolorists in Yugoslavia, as well as amateur boxing champion and smart inventor. Thanks to him –in the magnificent atmosphere of Heinrich Palace in Karlovac– Alfred was able to interact with the smell emanated by colors, oils, and the infallible turpentine from a young age. He indeed grew up in a continuous flow of creativity and intellectual reflection.
Sumi-e, where the relationship between ink and water is fundamental, how did you discover that?
I’ve liked ink from the beginning. My grandfather talked about simplicity, synergy ...about the beauty of the strokes of light. In the academy, I received my first roll of mulberry paper and a stick of non-liquid Chinese ink. By the end of my university days, I had reached an excellent level, understanding the void as fullness. In fact, the empty space has become a part of equal or more importance regarding those where the ink is applied.
Talking about landscapes, an important section of your production...
I try not to be a “tourist worker”. That means not transforming art into a more or less skillful representation of some natural or historical beauty. Conversely, my landscapes, and most of my works, are barely connected with the physical world. First of all, I paint or draw my inner cosmos: the various reactions of my spirit.
It could be said that, during your stylistic journey, you worked from
the representation of the landscape to the representation of what
is “behind the landscape”: hidden in the belly of the earth.
That has been my path for decades. I apply symbolism and Surrealism in my expressionist method to help me with the investigation of the hidden layers of my existence. In 2008, for instance, during a grueling part of my life, many of my viewers were surprised by how everything seemed so sinister. I think the intensity and energy of my images were completely unknown to them, although they perceived my genuineness. Now, I work with slightly different energies. Perhaps the words are more “soft” and “acceptable”. If the encounter/ clash between the figurative and abstract dimensions is one of the topics of contemporary painting, do you believe that the techniques from the oriental art can help the occidental artist to overcome this impasse on the basis of a different relationship between the “inner” and “outer”?
Yes, that is one of the reasons why I developed this technique. Let me say that I have defined my art as “European ink painting” because it is created in this precise context. I think it’s explanatory to me what the well-known German art critic and historian Jürgen Weichardt wrote: “The Japanese influence is evident in the strokes and in the way the brush paints trees and landscapes. But sometimes, Krupa has brush-free movements that seem to approach the European Informalism. Somehow, it is a current bridge between the Japanese and European painting”.
Your latest works seem to show a marked reduction of external
data. Do these “essential forms” define a further step towards
the elimination of the phenomenal dimension in favor of another
purely eidetic?
As I grow older, my art also becomes more mature. Everything changes in relation to the simplification and synergy of complex forms. That cannot be achieved without the processing of the existence and artistic experience. The inner life comes to the surface stronger than in youth. I seek a higher expression and that is at the end of the process of multidimensional reduction to “essential forms”: some sort of “neo or re-minimalism.”
So, it is possible to interpret the creative path of Alfred Krupa in terms of reduction of the sign; of course, without understanding the word “reduction” in the sense of simplification. Moreover, one could even consider this “reduction” as a search for a certain essentiality of the pictorial stroke that, particularly in the most recent production, is able to skip a specific referential response.
In a nutshell, the sign alludes to that dimension of the not immediately visible, of something that can only be perceived in a context similar to an allegorical allusion (and it is really probable and precisely that in this creative tough time where the deepest level of suggestion is found, that the artist received thanks to his “frequency” for the oriental art). It is an “imbalance” that is built around a series of oppositions. Sometimes it occurs by the content, as it happens for example in some of the wooded images in which it is emphasized certain elements that normally are not visible: the roots.
This visible/non-visible choice demonstrates, in effect, the strong productivity of Krupa at the level of deep and symbolic significance. At the same time –at a strictly formal level– this opposition (which could be summed up in the traditional dichotomy of the tilting contemporary art between figuration and abstraction) is materialized in the almost abandonment of color in favor of other techniques (such as the oriental ink, the sumi-e) and, finally, in the new relationship between full and empty characterized by a progressive expansion of the latter regarding the rarefaction of the sign.
The final objective of Alfred Krupa’s production seems not to seek the prevalence of the figurative approach in relation to the abstract or vice versa, but to deepen –after an already mentioned reduction– the representative value of the sign, beyond any categorization.


Dr. Jürgen Weichardt about Alfred Freddy Krupa

Alfred Krupa, Croatia, got in 1998 a scholarship at the Tokyo Gakugei Univerity and studied Japanese painting. A chosen collection he presents in Sarajevo. The Japanese influence is obvious in the lines and in the way the brush paints trees and landscapes. Also the differenciation of grey minds of the Japanese masters. But sometimes Krupa solves himself from the connection to landscape and nature forms and he gives the brush free movements which seem to be near the European informel. In a certain way Krupas work is a bridge between Japanese and European painting of today. (2016)


Portraits of Alfred Freddy Krupa by Juraj Baldani

...To this presentation of models joins another very important component: the author's attitude toward portraited person.
In Alfred Freddy Krupa's work is seen a need of installing his own impression that is manifested in different ways on the individual characters. From the cases where there is accents of certain dignity, respect, through understanding of intimacy to intimate poetic flashes, lasts gallery of characters in their authentic diversity but also with the presence of a wide range of painter's emotional reflections.
Wealth reciprocal transmission between the painter and the model is present and when Alfred Freddy Krupa decided to take self portrait.
It was made in several variations and each decision shows the author's psychological states and introspection itself is a remarkable indication of the painter's analytics and unhindered to be honest, but a critical and autonomous.... (1995)


Dr. Enes Quien (Akademija likovnih umjetnosti u Zagrebu/Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb) - Alfred Freddy Krupa

"Alfred Krupa experimenting with unusual techniques of grated ink and a combination of black ink and brush. But it is not a technical experiment created for mere experiment, but a skillful artifacts for expressing one refined vision of some natural motifs, landscape with a house, a tree, a fountain, a church ... Refinement is realized with clear interplay of contrasts of white and black (no) color; steady hand and a gentle stroke, Krupa creates scenes on the principles of full and empty, positives and negatives. The points and lines drawn shapes that reflect a somewhat mystical atmosphere. " (2003)


Andreas Berlakovich PhD, Austrian diplomat, ambassador and painter

"Drawings, and delicate translucent watercolors, transmitted to us
concentrated expression of being , personality and things, just
because they are limited to the most important, the line itself.
And in the line Krupa is the strongest so far!
Many great masters of art knew the expression lines. We think only onthe nerve lines of Durer, or Rembrandt, or those of Piccaso, Miro ...
I must say that Krupa works as his craft has been taught by them! " (1995)


Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon/Artists of the World about Alfred Freddy Krupa

Internationally Krupa is known as a painter of portraits, so among other things, he portrayed Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (1996) and Rwandan King Kigeli V. (2013).
Significant / exquisite are his ink paintings, on rice paper using the technique Hakubyou. Krupa concentrates on essential and represents a simplified stylistic motifs (among other Two trees in a secluded, 2008). By varying lines of ink showing shadows and three-dimensionality, thus forms are transformed continually into white, blank surfaces as best shown in lyrical motifs. Characteristic are liquid and strongly accented strokes (among other Old poplars, 2012).


Ransui Yakata (ICCPS Japan President and National Japan Sumi-E Art Association Councilor /Special Manager) about Alfred Freddy Krupa

Mr. Alfred’ works are very original and also a sanctuary of modern ink painting. He has a very fresh technique and we can feel the breath of life from his brush line.

全国水墨画美術協会 評議員

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