Sažetak Vladimir Varlaj's (1895-1962) paintings are predominantly landscapes with motifs from Gorski Kotar, the Croatian Littoral and Dalmatia, and Zagreb and its surroundings. He never had a one-man exhibition during his lifetime, and as a result of his sickness, his creative period was rather short (1919-1934). The artist's documentation has not been preserved. His artistic personality began to emerge during his studies with Krizman and Crnčić, when he received basic instruction in landscape painting. At the same time, he gained some experience in photography in Mihajlo Merčep's studio. The painting "Sljeme from Vrbovec" was found together with the photo of the scene. There is also a photo of a scene from Vrbnik, corresponding in framing and numerous details with Varlaj's painting "Motif from old Vrbnik". Both examples show that Varlaj used photography as an aid to his painting.
Ties of friendship with Gecan and Uzelac did not result in artistic similarities, just as Varlaj's short sojourn in Prague did not necessarily play a decisive role in Varlaj's artistic maturation. It is to be concluded from several sources that Varlaj stayed in Prague for a much shorter time than his colleagues, just a few months. For Varlaj, Breughel or Romantic painters could have been just as influential a stimulus, almost as important as the art of Cezanne or Derain. Analysis shows that Varlaj's art did not result from direct adoption of a foreign or Croatian painter's artistic idiom. Varlaj's idiom is the result of the artist's own reflection; there are similarities with his contemporaries, painters in many parts of Europe, who used various artistic means to establish stable and strict order in a painting. It is possible to recognize in Varlaj's art the stylistic trends of the first decades of the 20th century, ranging from Expressionism to the predominant magic realism. The idyllic character of his landscapes has been frequently emphasized, but in many paintings romantic or expressive features are also prominent: skies full of thick, heavy, dark clouds, bare trees, deserted landscapes in cold tones, the irrepressible force of nature before storm. The dramatic images of nature are at the same time a ref lection of the drama of his state of mind. Varlaj's illness cut short further artistic activity.
It may be concluded that Varlaj created an artistic idiom which, apart from the said similarities with his contemporaries, possesses features expressive of his distinctive personality which was devoted during the whole of his creative life to the discovery of local characteristics of the Croatian lansdcape.
After forming his own artistic idiom in about 1919, Varlaj did not significantly change it during the whole of his creative period. He observed his motif mostly from an elevated position. He frequently used strong contrasts between the foreground and the more remote parts of the scene in the painting. He carefully smoothed the surfaces of flat and almost geometrically regular walls and roofs of houses. He was fond of markedly elongated and broad shadows. He used mixed hues with often invisible brushstrokes, frequently painting in rounded, simplified and purified forms. The small opus of about 200 watercolours and oils (many are lost) shows the way Varlaj uncovered the hidden faces of his motifs in landscapes.