#photography & visual arts
This will be the first-ever monographic exhibition of the works of Izaak Celnikier in Poland. Its aim is to introduce Polish audiences to the works of Celnikier - a painter, draftsman and graphic artist who has been living in France since 1957.
This will be the first-ever monographic exhibition of the works of Izaak Celnikier in Poland. Its aim is to introduce Polish audiences to the works of Celnikier - a painter, draftsman and graphic artist who has been living in France since 1957. This retrospective exhibition will include approximately one hundred twenty paintings, thirty drawings and around one hundred prints, encompassing works created by the artist between 1945 and 2003. On one hand, the exhibit will remind viewers of the works this artist produced when he lived and worked in Poland (i.e. before 1957). Celnikier was one of the most important participants of the OGOLNOPOLSKA WYSTAWA MLODEJ PLASTYKI / POLISH NATIONAL EXHIBITION OF YOUNG VISUAL ARTS at Warsaw's "Arsenal" in 1955. On the other, the display will include paintings and graphic art produced by the artist in France and Israel in the years 1957-2004.
Perhaps the most important section of the exhibition will be that titled CZAS NIENAWISCI... CZAS PLACZU... CZAS WOJNY... / A TIME OF HATRED... A TIME OF CRYING... A TIME OF WAR... This will consist of canvases, drawings and prints constituting artistic documentation of the martyrdom and extermination of Jews in Poland during World War II. The artist drew on his personal experience in creating these works. As a seventeen-year-old boy, Celnikier endured the hell of the Bialystok Ghetto and its liquidation. While still a young man of twenty years, he survived the death camps at Stutthof, Birkenau and Bunawerke, and subsequent to the evacuation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bunawerke he experienced the drama of deportation and "death transports" to Mathausen, Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg and Dachau.
Canvasses like ZAKLADNICY / HOSTAGES, BUNT / UPRISING, POPIOLY / ASHES, DZIEN BUNTU / THE DAY OF THE UPRISING, ZYDOWSKIE NARZECZONE / JEWISH FIANCES and BIRKENAU very powerfully express the drama of the scenes Celnikier has chosen to illustrate, clearly evoking the brutality which Jews condemned to persecution and death faced. In prints devoted to the Shoah, the artist uses sharp, anxious lines and expressive color patches to describe the uprooting, seizure of property and mass murder perpetrated on defenseless Jewish populations. He speaks of the martyrdom of a persecuted nation, recalling the faces of individuals who regularly faced the possibility of a senseless death. Among the many unwitting participants of a cataclysm that exceeded the boundaries of known human experience, Izaak Celnikier proved to be one of those who took it upon themselves to remember and convey what the victims of ghettos and death camps endured.
The section of the exhibition described above will tie into celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau (January 27th, 1945). A ceremony commemorating this event will be held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and participants will include top government representatives from Poland, Israel and a number of other countries, including France.
Alongside canvasses depicting the tragic fate of Jews during World War II, Celnikier assigned a special place in his abundant oeuvre to female portraits and nudes. Titled CZAS BUDOWANIA... CZAS MILOWANIA... CZAS POKOJU... / A TIME OF BUILDING... A TIME OF LOVE... A TIME OF PEACE..., the second section of the exhibition will consist precisely of portraits, nudes, still lifes and landscapes. It will include approximately eighty oil paintings and another eighty prints and drawings. Female portraits will be dominant, and among these especially the portrait of one woman - Anne, the artist's wife. Peering from this unusual gallery of likenesses will be faces full of inner tension, serious, focused faces fully aware of life. A series of landscapes from areas around Jerusalem and Sainte-Agnes in the south of France - sites where the artist returned regularly - will complete the exhibition. In their rich substance and strong forms, these canvases ultimately confirm that much of the work in the exhibition resides within the boundaries of broadly understood Expressionist art.