Graphic artist, draughtsman, painter and photographer. Born on 31st of January 1949 in Miłosna near Warsaw.
He began his studies in 1967 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and graduated in 1973 after receiving a diploma in Graphic Arts from Professor Andrzej Rudziński's atelier. Between 1982-1983, he worked as an assistant in the painting department at the school. Throughout the eighties he cooperated with the underground "Solidarity" movement, producing a number of graphic art works and prints. Since 1991, together with his wife, Teresa Starzec, Bielawski runs the "Fundacja Atelier" in Warsaw, a city where he works and lives till today.
During his studies, he befriended Andrzej Bieńkowski, Łukasz Korolkiewicz, Tomasz Ciecierski, Ewa Kuryluk and Jan Dobkowski, with whom in the seventies, he formed an informal artistic group called "Śmietanka" / "Cream of the crop" - the name taken from a joined exhibition at MDM gallery in Warsaw (1977).
Andrzej Bielawski's diploma piece titled Takayata (1973) was made up of a collection of multicolored large format graphic art works (utilising etching, aquatint and soft varnish techniques). After completing his studies, he often took on erotic themes in his work. Very early on, however, the material itself became the subject of his focus. Urszula Makowska noticed that
in the early 70's, 'matter' is the theme, and Bielawski presented its specific condensation, situated on the edge of a colloquially registered reality - something often found on sidewalk lawns and urban spaces covered in wild vegitation.
The artist himself defined these areas as 'indiscreet spaces', which also became the title for his exhibition of the series organised in Krakow in 1974 Przestrzenie niedyskretne (Indiscreet Spaces). An 'indiscreet space' he wrote,
is an area that surrounds us after the removal of a web of normality, identity and reality, and all of its particular elements.
One of the best examples of an 'indiscreet space' in Bielawski's work is without doubt his 1975 piece Gabloty (Cabinets). Unlike the cabinets you would normally find at a museum, Bielawski spaces are hidden behind a reflective glass with the interior filled with leftovers, residual shreds, rags, dried leaves, feathers, ropes etc. Often, the transparent glass is replaced with the remains of a mirror, which positions the Gabloty within that which surrounds it even further. Maria Poprzęcka wrote:
The glass reflects, yet at the same time it allows our vision to penetrate into the depths, towards the raw matter which is hidden at its base (...). Meanwhile the opaque 'mirror stains' (...) contrast the depths of the cabinet, as though, somehow in competition with that which they cover. And so they compete because they capture the remains of the reality that surrounds us.
And so in this way it seems, the artist asks the question concerning the relation between art and reality. Towards the end of the seventies, Bielawski's work incorporated geometrical grids, networks, square configurations of pavement blocks, motifs that continue to be preset in his graphic artwork to this day. At the beginning of the eighties, for a short time, religious and social themes also appeared in Bielawski's paintings. Operating in the so-called "poetyką bruku" (pavement poetic), he constructs 'heavy' paintings made up of fragments taken from reality. And here also the geometric grids tended to re-appear - often seen in the organization of pavement blocks. What's important here, however, is the elements that make reference to the current social-political situation. This was further described by Barbara Majewska:
During the Martial Law period, on this ground and in this mud you could see remains from tear gas flares, the insignia of "Solidarity", and barbwire - delicate and stylish like in japanese prints, the esthetics towering over reality, a reality before which people were powerless....
Between 1983-1985, Bielawski created the Krzyże (Crosses) series, which remained in close connection with the atmosphere of the times and its church exhibiting tendencies that the artist also adopted. The first painting from the series - Cień (Shadow,1983) landed in the collection of the National Museum in Krakow. In Bielawski's work, the 'cross' motif does not however evoke straightforward associations, as observed by Peter Herbstreuth:
The picture of the cross was transformed so many times by the artist, that the obvious symbol of Christian iconography and russian constructivism seized to reference the obvious associations we may have.
The motif of the 'cross' also appeared in Bielawski's other works: Codzienny krzyż (Everyday cross) and Czarny krzyż (Black cross, 1983). Bielawski was also the author of Droga krzyżowa (Stations of the Cross) (also created utilising the graphic technique of dry needle) for a chapel in Buraków.
In the years that followed, Andrzej Bielawski's painting moves more and more towards a reflection on pictorialism. The theme undertaken in "Gabloty" returns with a particular strength in his next series of paintings, whose 'matter' is made up of soil, earth and mud (as seen in paintings from 1986-1987). These resemble assemblages and focus on the 'matter' that painting itself is made up from. In addition, there are the metal paintings (composed out of used graphic stencils), as well as, pictures 'painted' with wax.
In the nineties, Bielawski builds his pictures out of elements, that make up the 'graphic artist's own workshop' - he composes utilizing used graphic stencils, pasting prints of 'walls' and rectangular modules. Waldemar Baraniewski remarks:
the essence of Bielawski's pictures is the problem associated with 'representation' - the genesis of a painting from the act of painting (...) The graphic art prints pasted by Bielawski into the picture become the 'co-creator' of the picture itself. The paintings identity as an artistic creation in itself becomes compromised. In addition, the works are collated with stencils, out of which they themselves were created from and upon whose material existence they are based on.
Also composed out of graphic stencils, the critics pay a special attention to the 'metal pictures' and their predisposition to the natural erosion of the plates. Anda Rottenberg wrote:
This demonstration of the creative process unexpectedly reveals the semantic layer of the seemingly abstract composition.
From the mid-nineties, Bielawski's painting 'matter' becomes wax which covers the canvas and gives the impression of a unifying element even more. The long-lasting process of creating the oil paintings with the use of wax (1997-2000), whose structure has been compared to that of lichen walls and corse granite, was described by Baraniewski:
The oil canvases had undergone material destruction. They were pressed and macerated, and their 'remains' somehow coupled into wax (...) The decision to destroy - says Bielawski - was a result of the painting not proving itself. And at the same time, the picture opens itself up to a new possibility, out of which - or out of its 'matter '- the actual picture was itself created.
From 2004, Bielawski creates large-format (each 180 x 134 cm), unnumbered canvasses that are covered in monochrome wax. Often their structure is multi-layered, and Bielawski composes the works out of numerous coats of ash, rice paper and wax. The pieces were presented in a particular way at the artist's solo exhibition at Zachęta Gallery in 2007. Here the series of paintings served to build a monumental composition that encapsulated the entire gallery space.
Finally, one of the more important pieces created by Bielawski is his Księgi (Books) series which the artist has been compiling together since 1986. The series comprises of a kind of collection of the art's own notes and diary entries. The Księgi are filled with drawings, gouaches, watercolors and collages (utilizing photography and photographic paper), as well as, numerous clippings from geographic, anatomic, linguistic, and even submarine, reference books, which came from different parts of the world and had been published in numerous languages. Bielawski's first 'book' was based on Andrea Palladio's Four Books on Architecture. His Księgi are often described as containing a structure close to that of a palimpsest and the term 'książki-pasożytów' (parasite books) is also used to describe them. In addition, all the pages are dated and signed by the artist, who in this way registers the passing of time.
In Bielawski's Księgi - Izabela Dzioba noted - the reality is made up of details taken out of various autonomous narrations. Similar to that of a collector of 'rarities', the artist's fragments remain in an inherent relation with the whole, thanks to which the fragments themselves share the power of creating their own rendition.
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2007.
Selected solo exhibitions:
- 1973 - "Grafika i rysunek" (Graphic Art and drawing) - Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej (Contemporary Art Gallery), Warsaw;
- 1974 - "Grafika i rysunek" (Graphic Art and drawing) - “Galeria Młodych” Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1975 - "Grafika" (Graphic Art) - Salon BWA, Legnica; Galleri Aftenlandet, Copenhagen, Denmark;
- 1976 - "Grafika, rysunek" (Graphic Art, drawing) - BWA, Białystok;
- 1978 - Galeria KMPiK Ściana Wschodnia (East wall), Warsaw;
- 1979 - "Grafika, rysunek" (Graphic Art, drawing) - Salon Sztuki Współczesnej (Contemporary Art Salon), Łódź; "Grafika, rysunek" (Graphic Art, drawing) - BWA Gallery, Lublin; "Grafika" (Graphic Art) - GP Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1980 - Galeria Krytyków (Critic’s Gallery), Warsaw;
- 1981 - "Wystawa prac" (Exhibition of works) - BWA Arsenał Gallery, Poznań;
- 1983 - Kulturhusets Konsthall, Skövde, Sweden;
- 1984 - "Efemeryda" - Andrzej Bielawski Atelier, Warsaw; "Korsvandringen" - Södertälje Kulturnämnd, Södertälje, Sweden;
- 1985 - "Grafika - Rysunek - SBWA" (Graphic Art - Drawing - SBWA), Pokaz Gallery, Warsaw; "Zeichnungen und Aquarelle" - Burgerzentrum, Bielefeld-Sennestadt, Germany;
- 1986 - La Petite Galerie, Brema, Germany (together with Teresa Starzec);
- 1987 - SHS Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1989 - "Exposition de gravures" - Atelier Contraste, Fryburg, Switzerland;
- 1990 - Zamek Książąt Pomorskich (Pomeranian Dukes' Castle), Galeria Południowa (South Gallery), BWA, Szczecin;
- 1991 - Salon Sztuki Współczesnej (Contemporary Art Salon) BWA, Bydgoszcz;
- 1992 - "Z pracowni Andrzeja Bielawskiego" (From Andrzej Bielawski’s Atelier) - Galeria Zachęta (Zachęta Gallery), Warsaw;
- 1994 - "Blachy i papiery" (Metal sheets and papers) - Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw; Bałucka Gallery, Łódź;
- 1997 - "Prace z lat 1992-1996" (Works from 1992-1996) - Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Zachęta (Zachęta Contemporary Art Gallery), Warsaw; "Książki / Strony" (Books / Pages) - Koło Gallery, Gdańsk;
- 1999 - Pryzmat Gallery, ZPAP, Cracow (together with Teresa Starzec);
- 2001 - "Prace z lat 1990-2000" (Works from 1990-2000) - Studio Gallery, Warsaw; "Strony" (Pages) - Milano Gallery, Warsaw;
- 2002 - "Teresa Starzec i Andrzej Bielawski w Galerii Koło" (Teresa Starzec and Andrzej Bielawski at Koło Gallery) - Koło Galery, Gdańsk; "Książki / Strony" (Books / Pages) - Biblioteka Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego (Warsaw University Library), Warsaw;
- 2007 - "Bez tytułu. prace 2004-2007" (Untitled. Works 2004-2007) - Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (Zachęta National Art Gallery), Warsaw.
Selected joined exhibitions:
- 1971 - "Intergroup" - Galleria d'Arte Margutta, Syrakuzy, Italy;
- 1972 - "Wystawa malarstwa i rysunku" (Painting and drawing exhibition) - Galeria Teatru Studio (Theater Studio Gallery), Warsaw;
- 1973 - VI Ogólnopolska Wystawa Grafiki (VI National Graphic Art Exhibition) - CBWA Zachęta, Warsaw;
- 1974 - 4. Triennale rysunku (4th Drawing Triennale) - Muzeum Architektury (Architecture Museum), Wrocław; "Przestrzenie niedyskretne" (Indiscreet spaces) - siedziba Stowarzyszenia Historyków Sztuki (Office of the Art Historian’s Association), Cracow; "Nowa generacja" (New generation) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Wrocław;
- 1975 - "Pokolenie XXX" (Generation XXX) - Dom Artysty Plastyka Gallery, Warsaw; "Young Artists '75" - Union Carbide Building, Nowy Jork, USA; Warszawa w sztuce '75 (Warsaw in art ‘75) - Dom Artysty Plastyka Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1976 - VII Ogólnopolska Wystawa Grafiki (VII National Graphics Art Exhibition) - CBWA Zachęta, Warsaw; The Art of Poland - Gallery International, Adelaide, Australia; VI Międzynarodowe Biennale Grafiki (VI International Biennale of Graphic Art) - BWA, Cracow;
- 1977 - Śmietanka (Cream of the crop) - MDM Gallery, Warsaw; Polnische Kunst Heute - Darmstadt, Germany; CDN - Prezentacje Sztuki Młodych (Young Artists Presentation) - Warsaw;
- 1978 - VIII Ogólnopolska Wystawa Grafiki (VII National Exhibition of Graphic Art) - CBWA Zachęta, Warsaw; Grafika (Graphic Art) - Pałac Sztuki (Art Palace) TPSP, Cracow; Now Drawing Is... - Kuabasaki Gallery, Kyoto, Japan;
- 1979 - Polska Grafika Współczesna (Contemporary Polish Graphic Art) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Wrocław; Biennale "Der Europäischen Grafik" - Heidelberg, Germany;
- 1980 - Rysunki i komentarze (Drawings and commentaries) - Muzeum Okręgowe (Regional Museum), Radom; Unsere Zeit - Galerie Zum roten Ochsen, Erfurt, Germany;
- 1981 - "Poolse Kunst in Pulchri" - Purchri Studio, Haga, Holland; Ogród Poznania (Experiences Garden) - MDM Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1982 - "Zbiory sztuki współczesnej" (Contemporary Art Collection) - Studio Gallery, Warsaw; "Jeune peinture - Jeune expression" - Grand Palais, Paris, France;
- 1983 - "Kunst aus Polen" - Kulturzentrum des Kreises Coesfeld, Kolvenburg Billerbeck, Germany;
- 1984 - "Spotkania ze sztuką" (Meetings with art) - kościół Miłosierdzia Bożego przy ul. Żytniej (Church of Divine Mercy on Żytnia Street), Warsaw; "Pamięć" (Memory) - Muzeum Archidiecezji Warszawskiej (Warsaw Archdiocese Museum), Warsaw;
- 1985 - "Czas krzyża" (Time of the Cross) - kościół Podwyższenia Krzyża oo. Kapucynów (Exaltation of the Cross Church - Capuchin friars), Bytom; "Czas smutku, czas nadziei" (Time of sorrow, time of hope) - kościół Matki Boskiej Bolesnej (Church of Our Lady of Sorrows), Poznań; Open Atelier House - Atelierhaus, Worpswede, Germany;
- 1986 - "Polish Contemporary Landscape Works" - The Kosciuszko Foundation, Nowy Jork, USA; "Malerai, Grafik, Zeichnungen. Bielawski. Ciecierski. Starzec" - Galerie Perspective, Neuss-Düsseldorf, Germany;
- 1987 - "Anxiety" - Rackham Gallery, Michigan, USA; "Realizm radykalny, abstrakcja konkretna" (Radical realism, definite abstraction) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Warsaw;
- 1988 - "Obecność" (Presence) - pokaz plenerowy malarstwa i rzeźby (Outdoor exhibition of painting and sculpture), Wawrzyszew, Warsaw;
- 1990 - "Grabado Contemporaneo Polaco" - Salas Nacionales de Exposicion, Buenos Aires, Argentina; "Salon letni" (Summer saloon) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Cracow; IN PROGRESS - Pumpe e.v., Kilonia, Germany;
- 1991 - "Epitafium i siedem pieczęci" - Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw; Verbotene Ostkunst 1948-1989 - Muzeum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, Austria;
- 1994 - "Grafik aus Warschau" - Junge Kunst Museum, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany;
- 1995 - "Artyści polscy na festiwalach międzynarodowych 1975-1995" (Polish artist at international festivals 1975-1995) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Wrocław;
- 1996 - "Artyści polscy dla muzeum w Vulkovarze" (Polish artist for the Vukovar museum) - Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1997 - "Pokolenia. 25 Lat Galerii Studio" (Generation. 25 Years of the Studio Gallery) - Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw; Artyści Galerii Koło (Koło Gallery Artists) - Koło Gallery, Gdańsk;
- 1998 - "Fragment kolekcji 3" (Collection fragment 3) - Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw;
- 1999 - "Amici di Tworki" - Instytut Kultury Polskiej (Polish Culture Institute), Paris, France;
- 2000 - "Dwanaście obrazów" (Twelve paintings) - Koło Gallery, Gdańsk; "Die Vier Jahreszeiten" - Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankurt am Main, Germany; 18. Festiwal Polskiego Malarstwa Współczesnego (18th Festival of Polish Contemporary Painting) - Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum), Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej (Contemporary Art Gallery), Szczecin;
- 2002 - "Z kolekcji Zachęty" (From the Zachęta Collection) - Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (Zachęta National Art Gallery), Warsaw; "Co widzi trupa wyszklona źrenica" (What sees the corpse’s glazed pupil) - Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (Zachęta National Art Gallery), Warsaw; Muzeum Okręgowe im. Leona Wyczółkowskiego (Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum), Bydgoszcz;
- 2003 - "Książka-Obiekt" (Book-Object) - Galeria Krytyków Pokaz (Pokaz Critic’s Gallery), Warsaw;
- 2004 - "Genius loci. Grafika w kręgu ASP w Warszawie" (Genius loci. Graphic Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts circle) - Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (Academy of Fine Arts), Warsaw; "Warszawa - Moskwa 1900-2000" (Warsaw - Moscow 1900-2000) - Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (Zachęta National Art Gallery), Warsaw; Państwowa Galeria Trietiakowska (The State Tretyakov Gallery), Moscow (2005);
- 2006 - "Malarstwo polskie xxi wieku" (XXI Century Polish painting) - Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki (Zachęta National Art Gallery