Strzmińskis Sunny Landscapes - Conceptual Afterimages - a lecture by Andrzej Turowski

A part of the series "Na oko – Strzemiński” (“More or Less Strzemiński”) Lectures and Seminars.

It is in the works of Turner that the perception process of blinding used to become the subject of studies and with it, the celebratory attitude towards sun as a subject of painting began. The eye was directly confronted with the sun: they merged into an inseparable unity. Looking at the sun blinded and there was nothing else to see but seeing itself, and seeing is a series of afterimages, blinding illuminations. A show of that which is seen. The idea of afterimages returned almost a hundred years later n the creative works of Strzemiński. Its best expression is a series of the so-called solar paintings realising a radical utopia of a modernist vision of the world.. Strzemiński painted the sun. The paintings are like perturbations of colours, like non-solidified explosions in a maddening rush, Julian Przyboś used to describe them as such in the introduction to Theory of Seeing. Strzemiński painted in them not the sight of the sun but its afterimage, showed the colours of the inside of the eye that looked at the sun. This way, the artist’s friend would add, the painters’ dream was made rational by Strzemiński. A look at the sun was, in Strzemiński’s paradoxical creations, like Turner’s wish to reach the absolute of seeing at the price of going beyond the visible in blinding the eye with light. In this sense, Strzemiński would also turn out to be the last descendant of Plato’s heliocentrism and, simultaneously, of modernism which connected the invisible Idea with the highest power of consciousness: that of the conceptual eye looking at its own illumination.

Andrzej Turowski, a critic and art historian, a retired professor of modern art history at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. Before 1983 he conducted research and lectures of modern art history at the Department of Art History at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. As an art critic he cooperated with Foksal Gallery in Warsaw. His research is focused on history and ideology of avant-garde in Central Europe, Russia and France in the 20th and 21st century. He is the author of several hundred academic dissertations and critical articles published in many languages and of ten books (among them: Polish Constructivism [„Konstruktywizm polski”], 1981; Existe-t-il un art de l’Europe de l’Est?, 1986; Constructors of the World [“Budowniczowie Świata”], 2000; Malevich in Warsaw[“Malewicz w Warszawie”], 2002). He has lived and worked in Paris since 1984.

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