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Andrzej Pawłowski, photography from 1984, copyright photo courtesy of the artist's family
Photographer, designer, sculptor, and filmmaker known for creating films based on photographic forms without the use of a camera and new solutions for applied arts.
Born in 1925 in Wadowice, he lived and worked in Kraków for most of the life, and died there in 1986. Pawłowski was associated with the Academy of Fine Arts, and was one of the founders of the second Kraków Group, which he presided over in 1958 and 1959.
Between 1945 and 1950, Andrzej Pawłowski studied Interior Design of Fine Arts Academy in Kraków, where he was tutored by Tadeusz Kantor, among others. Pawłowski received his diploma from the industrial design studio of Professor Zbigniew Chudzikiewicz. While still engaged in his studies, Pawłowski worked at the school as an assistant.
His research covered different areas, including applied arts (industrial design and exhibition design), and so-called pure art. In his work, the two fields overlap and have a common theoretical legitimacy.
From 1956, Pawłowski lectured at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. At the same university, he founded the Faculty of Industrial Design, and in the years 1963-1970, and again in 1981, served as its dean.
Pawłowski was a co-organiser of the Association of Industrial Designers, its first president (1965-1969), and vice president (1973-1975), a member of the Board (1975-1979) and president of the Board (1979-1984). He participated in the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) between 1967 and 1969, he served as vice president, and since 1971 was member of the board.
Since 1960, he held several designer jobs, devising blueprints for metal products and car parts, among others. He also designed furniture, telephones, farm tools and equipment. "The common feature of these designs was to close the mechanics in such a way that it is hidden in a structure, while the logic is clear," wrote Jan Trzupek of his work.
Since the 1950s, Pawłowski also worked as an exhibition designer. He designed the Polish stand at of the 1958 International Art Exhibition of Socialist Countries in Moscow. Over the years, he worked with the National Museum in Kraków, designing a number of temporary exhibitions and permanent collections (Gallery of 19th Century Polish Painting in the Kraków Cloth Hall, 1975, and the Gallery 20th Century Polish Art in the National Museum in Kraków, 1975). He was involved with the Seeing and Understanding exhibition, prepared by Mieczysław Porębski in Kraków's Cloth Hall on the occasion of Art Critics AICA Congress in Poland in 1975. In 1978, he designed his own retrospective, in Kraków's BWA.
While working as a set builder and designer in the first half of the 1950s, Pawłowski began working on the idea of a puppet theatre that would fit in a suitcase. Ty i Ja magazine described the idea behind it:
In Pawlowski's concept, puppets are held in a horizontal position, with the puppeteer sitting comfortably behind the scenes. Viewers watch everything through a mirror, and all the puppets are seen in a normal, upright position. [Unfortunately] Pawłowski's patented theatre did not take off.
The mirror theatre proved too small, so the artist began work on magnifying the action on stage."I wanted to create an epidiascopic puppet theatre. Tiny dolls, measuring a few centimetres, and a giant screen," Pawłowski said.
Since 1954, Pawłowski developed his interest in heliography. It was then that the artist established the first cycle of his non-figurative Luxograms. Kineform was born as a result of a fascination with the suitcase theatre and photographic techniques. The first event took place in the artist's apartment. Ty i Ja wrote that the show, projected onto a small wooden box resembling a television, was "Fabulous, phenomenal and indescribable." Pawłowski compared the show to a jazz improvisation.
Over time the artist perfected the projector by adding a moveable lens-system, and Tadeusz Kantor suggested adapting his Cricot 2 theatre for Kineform, which premièred in January 1957. Kantor was fascinated by the poverty of the medium. "This structure is reliably low-rank: crumpled cellophane, folded pieces of paper, etc." However he feared that committing the show on film could "reduce the poetic nature [of the show], its depth and spaciousness".
Pawłowski was not deterred by Kantor's concerns and transferred Kineforms to film. Kineformy / Kineforms was written and directed by the artist,with Adam Walaciński in charge of music. The film was presented at the Polish pavilion at Expo '58 in Brussels, where it received a medal, and at the Short Film Festival in Oberhausen in the same year. An improved version of the projector with electric, self-forming images, was shown at the 11th Triennale in Milan, and attracted widespread interest.
In addition to Kineforms, Pawłowski became famous for his works based on photographic techniques but produced without the use of a camera. He created them in the early 1950s, using a technique which had been adopted by pre-war avant-garde artists such as László Moholy-Nagy and Karol Hiller. Pawłowski's images were created by exposing photosensitive paper to light, or interacting directly with photographic paper.
The first such attempt in 1954 resulted in the series of heliographs called Luxograms, continued the following year as Luxograms II. The artist exposed photographic paper with light passed through translucent paper models. The heliographs presented abstract compositions of geometric shapes. Some of the work of these early cycles were given short names, such as Lapsus, Lamus, Lewitan, Hesperonis and Hydra. The heliographs at the end of the 1950s were far more poetic, and included Mutacje (1959) and Somnamy (1959).
During the early 1960s, Pawłowski changed his way of working with photographic paper. He no longer used light, but applied chemical developer directly on paper. The results were interesting colour effects, resulting in his Ślady gestu / Traces of Gestures series of hand, chest, back and shoulder prints on photographic paper.
I got my hands on some photographic paper, I began to paint directly with developer in daylight, then fixed it. The result was several tones of black. And then I touched the paper with my hands steeped in developer.
In 1967, Pawłowski made his only series of photographs using a camera. This was a 35mm camera with a fish-eye lens, which gave a large depth of field, but also a specific deformation of perspective.
The artist photographed his own outstretched hands with a sky background (Ręce / Hands). Ten years later, in 1977, he changed the title of the series to Genesis and used 31 photographs from the series to accompany fragments of a new Polish translation by Artur Sandauer of the first book of the Old Testament. Adam Sobota sees this combination of art and religion which came from a "need to overcome certain limitations of avant-garde art".
In the 1970s and 1980s Pawłowski continued to experiment with heliography. The resulting series, Zbiory / Collection (1972), showed various simple, geometric, repetitive shapes, while Discovery (1984) was based on the the metaphor of flight. In the last series of Epitafia / Epitaphs (1984-1985) the artist used a technique which he had used for Śladów gestu – creating traces of the human body.
The experience he gained in Kineforms, the photographs he produced by directly touching his body on photo paper, led Pawłowski to the idea of Forma naturalnie ukształtowana / Naturally formed shapes in 1962. The artist sought organic art, and the starting point his interest in praxeology. He was fascinated by the minimisation principle which "leads to a particular purpose in the simplest, most effective, most economical [way]."
Pawłowski wrote that the shapes that resulted from this process were perfect, explaining "The image which emerges from the process, the way it was made, gives it authenticity, accuracy and truth. It bears the characteristics of its generation".
Adam Sobota highlights the role of "nature" in Pawłowski works, writing that "the value of the artist's concept of nature in art [...] is to combine the principles of rationality in human behaviour with the principle of natural creativity."
Select individual exhibitions
- KPMiK, Warsaw
- Krzysztofory Gallery, Kraków
• 1966 - 1967
- "Forma naturalnie ukształtowana", Pieskowa Skała, Lublin
- "Fotogramy", Słupsk
- Galeria Sztuki Użytkowej Forma PSP, Warsaw
- National Museum, Wrocław
- "Genesis", Schody ASP Gallery, Kraków
- "Andrzej Pawłowski. Work between 1948-1985", University Gallery of Modern Art in Cieszyn
- "Andrzej Pawłowski 1925-1986", Krzysztofory Gallery, Kraków
- "Andrzej Pawłowski: sculptures and photographs", Galeria Miejsce, Cieszyn
- "Andrzej Pawłowski. Genesis", Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielsko-Biała
- "Written in light", Piekary Gallery, Poznań
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2011. Translated, with edits, by Roberto Galea, March 2013