Antoni Starczewski. Wall of Light

In 1966, Antoni Starczewski welcomed the newly appointed director of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Ryszard Stanisławski, into his studio for the first time. Stanisławski then decided to purchase two works for the collection – Composition for Two Hands (1959) and Rhythmic Stripes Arrangement (1960). Also in 1966, together with the architect Witold Milo, Starczewski created a design for two more wall bas-reliefs, this time with a specific space in mind: the Stefan Jaracz Theatre in Łódź. One of them was Wall of Light.

INFO

Place

ms1, 43 Gdańska St.

opening

December 20, 2023 (Wednesday), at 6:00 PM

opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday: 9.00 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wednesday - Sunday: 12.00 a.m. - 6.30 p.m.

reconstruction elaboration

Natalia Słaboń, Paulina Kurc-Maj

communication and editorial coordination

Kamila Ignaczak, Kinga Świtoniak, Angelina Wieliczko-Skinder, Dorota Wituła

artwork’s conservation

Anita Andrzejczak, Naoko Kamoji, Małgorzata Kowalska, Tatiana Matwij

installation team

Krzysztof Francek, Łukasz Janicki, Marek Kubacki, Adam Maj, Mariusz Maj, Dariusz Mikołajczyk, Ireneusz Szymarek, Maciej Więcławski

Antoni Starczewski worked with painting, textiles, graphics, ceramics, and relief sculpture. As early as 1951, he started working as an artist and designer in light industry at the Faience and Porcelain Factory in Włocławek. From then on, ceramics, ranging from small sculptures, plates, vases to bas-reliefs and objects (the famous Tables with Potatoes, and later also with rolls, veka pastry, carrots, and apples) remained constantly present in his work. The most famous decorative walls he created include a bas-relief for the hall of the University of Łódź Library (extant) and two compositions for the Jaracz Theatre (no longer on site).

Made of specially prepared ceramic wall lamps, Wall of Light was officially unveiled on 27 January 1970 in the foyer of the rebuilt Stefan Jaracz Theatre. The production process was quite tedious and extended in time. Starting from designing the wall layout with an architect, through intensive work in Włocławek, where the artist spent a lot of time searching for the best glazing for faience wall lamps, and earlier on constructing them, to the extremely absorbing installation of the work on site, in the Jaracz Theatre, where he was helped, among others, by his students, including Mariusz Kowalski.

The Wall of Light that has been on view in the foyer of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź (ms1) since 20 December 2023 is an attempt to reconstruct the first version of Antoni Starczewski’s work. The museum acquired this composition for its collection as an intervention in 2003, when the Jaracz Theatre was being modernized. When it was removed from the walls, it was neither inventoried in detail nor conserved, and consequently it was not properly studied. Stored in fifteen boxes, it waited for twenty years to be rediscovered and brought to light from the Muzeum’s collections. Due to the fragility of the material, many of its elements were ruined or damaged during the first disassembly. On the other hand, the sketches left by the artist are only provisional and sometimes not very specific, so “"deciphering” his intentions after many years has become difficult.

The composition of Wall of Light is based on the use of repeatable modules, which are arranged in columns corresponding to the subsequent letters of the alphabet. Each letter is characterized by a different arrangement of dots and dashes, repeated in each element of a given column. The first eight columns are the letters A – H, which the artist described as the “static part.” The next nine columns, the letters I –R, are the “textural part”, and the last letters S – Z are the “dynamic part”. In the original Wall, with an impressive surface area of ​​40 sq m, in each of the columns there were 56 individual cuboidal ceramic “bricks” with holes,  the so-called bracket lamps. Unfortunately, some of these elements were beyond repair. However, as long as the series of lamps corresponding to the letters of the alphabet is retained, reducing the height of the wall does not distort the artist’s intentions. In the Jaracz Theatre, each column also terminated with a triangular form. After the wall was hammered off, only twelve of them survived, which made it impossible to include them in the reconstruction. Lighting is an integral part of the composition, mounted inside individual bricks to obtain refined light reflections.

The narrative and rhythmic nature of the constructed structures,  epitomized in this installation, determined the artistic idiom of Starczewski, who “in a quest for universal principles in art, unexpectedly combined the systemic and orderly nature of the works with creative values and emotional diversity.”

 

Natalia Słaboń, Paulina Kurc-Maj

 

We would like to thank Grzegorz Musiał, former staff member of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, co-founder of Galeria 86 and an expert on the work of Antoni Starczewski. His help and materials proved invaluable in the process of reconstructing the artwork.

 

Antoni Starczewski (1929–2000) was born and died in Łódź. He was a sculptor, painter, author of graphics and ceramics. His parents were Franciszek Starczewski, a teacher and Alina née Głosowicz, a teacher of deaf children. A graduate of the Stefan Żeromski Secondary School in Łódź, during the war Starczewski joined the underground Home Army and was arrested by the Germans. In 1946, he began studies at the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Łódź, together with, among others, Stanisław Fijałkowski, under the tutelage of Władysław Strzemiński. He studied painting, graphics, ceramics, and sculpture at the Faculty of Interior Design, earning his degree in 1951. From the mid-1950s, Starczewski worked at his alma mater as a teacher. He obtained the rank of associate professor in 1982. He used diverse media in his work, e.g. weaving, writing, ceramic forms, and sound. In 1963, he began to use his characteristic system of shape-multiplying elements in his works, thus imitating the rhythmic diversity of forms found in nature. He was interested in the module and alphabet. He was a frequently awarded artist, achieving numerous successes in international competitions, including, among others, gold medal at the 24th Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica in Faenza (1966), gold medal at the 3rd Biennale Internazionale della Grafica in Florence (1972), and 2nd prize at the 6th International Biennale of Graphics in Krakow (1976). The collection of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź includes nearly sixty graphics, relief sculptures, objets d’art, drawings, and paintings by Antoni Starczewski.

 

Maciej Cholewiński

Podziel się informacją

Galeria

Mapa

51.7718438, 19.4482831

INFO

Place

ms1, 43 Gdańska St.

opening

December 20, 2023 (Wednesday), at 6:00 PM

opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday: 9.00 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wednesday - Sunday: 12.00 a.m. - 6.30 p.m.

reconstruction elaboration

Natalia Słaboń, Paulina Kurc-Maj

communication and editorial coordination

Kamila Ignaczak, Kinga Świtoniak, Angelina Wieliczko-Skinder, Dorota Wituła

artwork’s conservation

Anita Andrzejczak, Naoko Kamoji, Małgorzata Kowalska, Tatiana Matwij

installation team

Krzysztof Francek, Łukasz Janicki, Marek Kubacki, Adam Maj, Mariusz Maj, Dariusz Mikołajczyk, Ireneusz Szymarek, Maciej Więcławski

Podziel się informacją