Andrzej Lachowicz was born in 1939 in Vilnius. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław (graduating in 1965). He was a member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers, and a frequent member of the Artistic Council. He died on 30th December 2015.
Throughout his long artistic career, Andrzej Lachowicz has been involved in photography, graphic art, drawing and art theory. He was initiator and commissioner of the International Drawing Triennale in Wrocław, organised from 1978 to 1995.
His works in the late sixties were metaphorical in style, modernised under the influence of the avant-garde tradition (the Transplantacje / Transplantation series from 1968 depicts repeatedly highlighted motifs of clasped hands forming an abstract shape with erotic expressions). Lachowicz was a co-founder of the neo-avant-garde group and gallery called Permafo, established in 1970 (Natalia LL and Zbigniew Dłubak belonged to it, among others), which existed until 1981. The group’s activities represented one of the strands of Polish photomedialism directed against expressive painting, and referring to Polish constructivism (under Dłubak’s influence), being at the same time one of the manifestations of conceptualism, which was the main trend stimulating the development of modern art at the time. Lachowicz took part in the Conceptual Art exhibition (Pod Moną Lisą Gallery, Wrocław).
From the early 70s the artist focused on studying the visual language of photography, creating photographic installations that aimed to analyse how shapes and symbols affect perception. One of the important theoretical texts by Lachowicz is undoubtedly Poziomy energetyczne sztuki (Energy Levels of Art, 1978), which had an impact on Polish art theory and practice during that and the following decade. The author claimed that art has energy just like the human body, and is an attempt to be part of the Absolute, while evil and lies, that is – hell, according to the artist, are represented by medialism, as he later explained in the publication Zwątpienie i nadzieja (Despair and Hope, 1986 ). The exhibitions Permart (1971) and Perswazja wizualna i mentalna (Visual and Mental Persuasion), based on the idea of ‘permanent art’, were devoted to this problem. An important feature in them was the concept of ‘endlessness’. An example of this is the portrait of Natalia LL, shown at the exhibition Fotografowie poszukujący (Searching Photographers), depicting a very small model of the face, then enlarged to a human scale to manifest ‘cosmic dimensions’ (as described by the artist).
The Permafo group had an impact on several young artists (such as Zdzisław Sosnowski).
In 1975, Lachowicz created Znaki izomorficzne (Isomorphic Characters), in which the shadow of the artist, being a spectrum/double, was subject to analysis. This reminds of the photographic-film reflection of André Bazin, who analysed the photographic medium with an anthropological method, emphasising its memorable character and sacredness, though in an already incomplete form.
In the early 80s Lachowicz presented the exhibition Energia upadku / The Energy of Decline, which analysed the meaning of the word ‘decline’ from a very broad perspective (both philosophical and anthropological). At the end of the 80s he used negatives from the Transplantation series and created the works Topologie (Topologies) on a photographic canvas, which belong to the category of self-quotation. He participated in the exhibitions Polish Intermedia Photography of the 80s (BWA Poznań, 1988), where, in addition to photographs, he presented videos with poetic forms. Lachowicz also took part in the Lochy Manhattanu (Manhattan Dungeons) exhibition organised the following year by Józef Robakowski in Łódź.
In 1990 and in subsequent years Lachowicz prepared exhibitions of photographs and paintings entitled Energia luzu ( Energy of Ease). The artist re-interpreted black and white family photos using abstract painting techniques giving the cool photographs some form of life. In 1989/90 he was the curator of the Transgresje. Pogranicza fotografii (Transgressions: Photography Borderland) exhibition with Adam Sobota (BWA, Wrocław), and in 1993 – Transgresje II (Transgressions 2, National Museum in Wrocław). These were among the most interesting artistic propositions of those years, demonstrating the transition from conceptualism to ‘staged photography’. In 2002 Lachowicz presented new works at the Wokół dekady. Fotografia polska lat 90-tych (Around the decade. Polish Photography of the 90s) exhibition, including the series of still lifes entitled Wrocław 24.06.1997. Poranek w pracowni. (Wroclaw 06.24.1997. Morning in the Studio). He made a successful artistic attempt to represent the condition of our existence, similar to a state of melancholy – the struggle with disease and the vicissitudes of fate. His works are kept in the collections of the Museum of Art in Łódź and the National Museum in Wrocław.
Author: Krzysztof Jurecki, Museum of Art in Łódź, May 2004, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, April 2015