Polish painter, illustrator, and graphic artist who captured the transforming landscape of Poland through its labourers, athletes, everyday people and places on canvas over several decades of the 20th century and beyond.
Polish painter, illustrator, and graphic artist who captured the transforming landscape of Poland through its labourers, athletes, everyday people and places on canvas over the 20th century.
Over half a decade, Dwurnik painted close to 5000 canvases, along with thousands of sketches and other works on paper. His works form a sort of painerly chronicle of the age, illustrating the gradual transformation of Poland in terms of politics, society, architecture and culture in a folk-inspired style. And yet, as Dwurnik averred at the opening of a retrospective celebrating his 70th birthday at the National Museum in Kraków, "the works shown talk about the condition of our society from the 1960s up to today. And I believe that not much has changed over those years". The title of the exhibition Edward Dwurnik. Madness drew upon the title of the painter's 1981 work Madness of the People, depicting the military shooting at labourers in Gdańsk in 1970.
Born on April 19, 1943 in Radzymin, Dwurnik studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw between 1963 and 1970. In 1965, impressed by an exhibition of works by primitivist artist Nikifor seen during a vacation, he assumed a similar style of depiction. He began drawing and then painting in 1966, initiating work on a series titled Podróże autostopem / Hitchhiking Trips (pictures) - the oldest and largest in the artist's oeuvre, and one that he continues to expand to this day. These are contemporary townscapes, usually painted from a bird's-eye view and highly detailed. Their subject is not topography; rather, their essence is an accumulation of motifs that together constitute the "portraits" of cities. Another large series, painted by Dwurnik in the years 1972-1974 (and expanded repeatedly in 1982-1987, 1990-1992, and 1997-2000) are his Sportowcy / Sportsmen (pictures). In these images the artist portrayed common character types and everyday situations, doing so in a merciless way although not without a sense of humor. His attitude to the "average Pole" changed in his next series titled Robotnicy / Workers (pictures) - begun in 1975 and expanded between 1980 and 1991.
In the 1980s Dwurnik's paintings became expressive and dramatic. Works created during this decade and, in particular, his monumental compositions from the Obrazy duże / Large Paintings (pictures) series (begun in 1973 and continued to this day) often carried a political message and always, in some way, related to contemporary issues and realities. The series Droga na Wschod / The Road East (1989-1991) was an homage to the victims of Stalinist terror, while the Od grudnia do czerwca / From December to June (1990-1994) (pictures) series (1990-1994) did the same for the victims of Martial Law in Poland. The artist gained recognition for both the conceptual and purely pictorial values of these works, and as is often the case these were more appreciated outside of Poland than they were in the country, as evidenced in his receipt of the prestigious Coutts & Co Foundation Award in Zurich (1992).
In the 1990s Dwurnik produced series that were continuations of his earlier Hitchhiking Trips. These included Blękitne miasta / Blue Cities (from 1993) and Diagonale / Diagonals (from 1996) as well as compositions in a new style, like his seascapes from the Blękitne / Blue 1992-1993 (pictures) series (1992-1993), the Wyliczanka / Counting (pictures) series (1996-1999), or his abstract paintings from the Dwudziesty piąty / Twenty-fifth (pictures) series (begun midway through the year 2000). Apart from paintings, the artist also produces drawings, collages, prints (lithographs, metal plate techniques, xerographs, stamps) and graphic designs (illustrations, posters for his own solo exhibitions).
Edward Dwurnik passed away on 28th October 2018 in Warsaw.
Selected exhibitions and awards:
- 1981 - Cyprian Kamil Norwid Art Critics Awards (for the exhibition "Lato 80 / Summer 80" presenting works from the Robotnicy / Workers series)
- 1982 - "Documenta 7", Kassel
- 1983 - Solidarity Labor Union Cultural Award (for paintings from the Warszawa / Warsaw series dating from early 1981)
- 1985 - Nouvelle Biennale de Paris
- 1987 - 19th Art Biennale, Sao Paulo
- 1988 - Olympic Art Festival, Seoul, South Korea
- 1992 - Award of the Coutts & Co. International Private Banking Contemporary Art Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland
Author: Maryla Sitkowska, Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, December 2001.
More photos and information available at www.dwurnik.pl