"Jan Lebenstein. Demons" is an exhibition put together from the singular assemblage of works accepted by The Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature in Warsaw as a deposit of a hitherto unknown collection of the works of Jan Lebenstein and a number of additional pieces obtained on loan from private collections.
The Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature
in Warsaw recently accepted a deposit of a hitherto unknown collection of the works of Jan Lebenstein
(approx. 300 items). JAN LEBENSTEIN. DEMONY / JAN LEBENSTEIN – DEMONS is an exhibition put together from this singular assemblage of works and a number of additional pieces obtained on loan from private collections.
This is the first time Lebenstein's work is being displayed according to a thematic format that reveals the artist's sources of inspiration and presents his works in a historical context. The exhibition is composed of the following sections:
- POTEGA SMAKU / THE POWER OF FLAVOR, on the tragic war-time and post World War II experiences of the Lebenstein family (the deaths of the artist's father and brother), on the artist's years as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw when Socialist Realism was the reigning artistic ideology, on his friendship with writer Miron Białoszewski and the development of his relationship with the Tarczynska Street Theatre (44 items);
- STREFA PARYZA / THE PARISIAN ZONE, on the great success of Lebenstein's exhibition at the Musée National de l'Art Moderne and his decision to stay in Paris, on the friendships that shaped the artist's "narrative" sensitivity and resulted in his illustrating the Bible and works by Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, Witold Gombrowicz, Czeslaw Milosz, Aleksander Wat and Father Baka; on the artist's friendship with Father Superior Jozef Sadzik and the stained glass windows Lebenstein created for the Centre du Dialogue (37 items);
- COEXISTENCE, on the artist's fascination with the National History Museum in Paris, which bore fruit in the appearance of a generation of fantastic creatures in Lebenstein's paintings; on the transformation of the artist's famous axial figures into symbols of primal beings and the artist's famous contention that man "(...) is slightly more of a skeleton than he assumes himself to be on a daily basis (...)" (23 items);
- O ZMIERZCHU / AT DUSK, on Lebenstein's fascination with the Eros-Thanatos antinomy, on his death-tainted erotic motifs, his inspiration with Paris at night, his obsession with transcendence reflected in his representations of the "oddity" of the human body and its inevitable degeneration (30 items);
- UTRACONE KROLESTWO / THE LOST KINGDOM, on the artist's enthrallment with the basements of the Louvre and Assyrian and Hellenic art, on his rejuvenation of the ancient myths of the orient and the Hellades, on ancient and contemporary Babylon (25 items);
- TOUT VA BIEN! CAMARADE..., on the "demon of Communism" that persecuted Lebenstein, reflected in his series of illustrations for George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, as well as in his drawings that commented on the imposition of Martial Law in Poland (14 pieces and an enlarged image dating from the time of Martial Law).
- TOMBEAU, on the death motif in the artist's works (portrayed in a Baroque grotesque convention), on the artist's favored "provincial Baroques," on human suffering and the artist's references to the biblical Job, on the troubled hope that flows from man's ultimate denuding (approximately 30 items and the painting TANIEC SMIERCI / DEATH'S DANCE from the collection of the National Museum in Poznan).
Individual sections of the exhibition are composed of Lebenstein
's works (oil paintings, gouaches, drawings), as well as enlarged documentary photographs and quotations by the artist. The latter constitute a singular narrative, giving viewers the impression that the artist is guiding them through the exhibition.
The exhibition is accompanied by screenings of films about Lebenstein and a catalogue in a dual Polish-English language edition.The exhibition will travel to a number of other cities: Muzeum Lubelskie / The Lublin Museum: June 15 - July 15, 2005Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu / The National Museum in Poznan: July 25 - September 10, 2005Muzeum Narodowe w Szczecinie / The National Museum in Szczecin: October 27 - November 27, 2005