As one of the most known Polish painters, he was fascinated with photography throughout the entire decade of the ‘50s. Beksiński took his first pictures during the occupation in his hometown Sanok, using a Icorett Zeiss camera. He returned to photography while studying engineering in Kraków and when working at the Autosan bus factory in Sanok. He mainly photographed his family home and neighbourhood - the narrow, muddy streets, rough walls and wooden of his Bieszczady village.
Part of the photos are stylised self-portraits as a sailor, worker, a Red Army soldier, detective or a person on the verge of suicide. The artist’s models were often his parents, but primarily his wife. Her portraits and nudes are a rare example of the affirmation of life in Beksinski’s works.
"I was probably more interested in the photograph than if the face expresses any sort of psychological issue. Even if I used it, I always tried to show what was in me and not in the person posing for me", Beksiński said. The most famous photograph from the nude series is the Sadist’s Corset, a picture of the artist’s wife wrapped in a string, photographed through the back rest of a chair.
Already in his early photographic stage there appear - typical for Beksinski‘s later work - signature crosses, tombs, a lonely human figure lost in the monotony of the landscape, cemeteries, candles, faces distorted with fear, dramatic hand gestures. The album also consists of abstract photographies which appear to be divided into zones and mirror reflections.
Although Beksiński gained recognition as a photographer in the 50s, he abandoned this domain in 1959 and never returned to it. When asked for the reasons he most often answered that he felt he couldn’t express anything else through this technique. Beksiński donated his works and assets, including the collection of over 2,000 photographs, to the Historical Museum in Sanok.
Wiesław Banach’s text, published in the bilingual Polish-English album, systematically describes the motives and formal elements of Beksiński’s photographic works (among others: portraits, nudes, expression, abstraction, montage). The publication was originally designed by prof. Lech Majewski. It its richly illustrated with photographs from the collections of the Historical Museum in Sanok and the National Museum in Wroclaw. Many of them were published for the very first time.
• Photo Beksiński / Foto Beksiński
Edited by: Wiesław Banach
Concept and design: Lech Majewski
Publishing house BOSZ, Olszanica 2011
Format 240 x 300 mm, 176 pages, hardcover
The book is available for purchase at www.bosz.com.pl