Zbigniew Dłubak and Group 55
June 24th, 2003 - August 10th, 2003
The exhibition is another presentation of a catalogue of issues that belong to a series called Sztuka przekraczania granic [ Art of Crossing Boundaries] (the previous exposition, Dłubak i Grupa 55 [ Dłubak and Group 55], opened in June 2003). It relates to the liberation of modern art in Poland, and more precisely, to the moment of its rebirth in the late 1950s. At that time art became an integral part of a young, renewed epoch, in which it was once more understood that a work of art did not have to adhere to the subjects imposed by the authorities. This became important in particular the attitudes developing around Klub Krzywego Koła [The Krzywe Koło Club] (1955-1962). It was not only a matter of transgressing some artificial borderlines between various spheres of art — it was not only about formal achievements — but above all a matter of ideology, of being able to express freely as artists.
The artists who were running Galeria Krzywe Koło [The Krzywe Koło Gallery] — Marian Bogusz and Stefan Gierowski, collaborating with Marian Bogusz between 1957 and 1960 — realized that the breach in society’s awareness made by Socialist Realism could be filled only through extensive popularisation. The method of popularising the accomplishments of modern art through continually changing exhibitions and adding original works to art publications became expanded with the idea of creating a new International Collection of Contemporary Art, derived from that of Władysław Strzemiński and the group “a.r.”. There were in fact three autonomous sets of works, gathered in the period between 1957 and 1961 and given to the museums in Łódź, Warszawa and Kraków.
Among contemporary tendencies of art and the attendant individual styles Stefan Gierowski had a singular personality. About his Obrazy [ Paintings], since 1957 marked with roman numerals, he says: “They are not abstractions, because there are in them no references to some intangible concepts.” In painting, he is looking for autonomy and an absolute quality of the creative process. Gierowski’s raising doubts about suitability of the term “abstraction” is even more telling than his earlier decision to move away from figuration; “Abstraction is a word that does not mean anything in relation to painting. The very fact of painting makes it no longer an abstraction but a great thing.” Philosophically, Gierowski’s experiments can be seen as an attempt to formulate the premises of absolute painting. The main actors of the spectacles played out in his paintings are light and colours, penetrating and enlivening the material of the canvas, whirling around all the forms and ordering the substance of the message. The space of colour that belongs to the plane of the painting becomes a metaphysical space, somewhat intangible, with many possible interpretations, and being its heart, its very stuff and its raison d’être. The subject matter, which would normally demand extensive explanation, is brought to light in the simplest and most universal way, only through the expression of forms and colours, as in Gierowski’s cycle Dekalog [The Decalogue], between Obraz DLXVII (1986) and Obraz DLXXVI (1987).
How does one look at his paintings? How does one penetrate them? The traditional way of looking at paintings whereby they are windows leading onto another world, denoted by colour, may prove insufficient. Gierowski encourages a creative act of seeing, suggests crossing the border of the painted world, bids us inside and invites fully to identify with the colourful space and to find ourselves in its interior. A journey into the heart of the painting, a touch of matter, its density, accompanied by light penetrating the particles of colour that are floating in the air, becomes the contents of colourful stories about the joy of life, about dangers, luminous spheres, orange rain or green mists. It invokes anxieties that accompany the magic moment when a painting becomes part of a private world, part of one’s own interior.