Wojciech Fangor - painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and co-creator of the Polish poster school - has shaped his artistic path around the concept of space and the light that emanates from it.
Wojciech Fangor - painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and co-creator of the Polish poster school - has shaped his artistic path around the concept of space and the light that emanates from it
Wojciech Fangor (born 1922) studied painting under professors Tadeusz Pruszkowski and Felicjan Szczesny-Kowarski during World War II. He was awarded an arts degree and diploma by the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1946. He was involved in the Socialist Realist current and created numerous Socialist Realist paintings (including Matka Koreanka / Korean Mother, Postacie / Figures) and posters.
In the second half of the 1950s he began producing abstract paintings and became fascinated with the spatial relationships between them. His exhibition titled A Study of Space at the "New Culture" Salon in Warsaw (1958) was composed of twenty "optical" paintings of various formats arranged irregularly in the gallery. It proved a sensation, was dubbed an important artistic event, and is now considered to have been the first artistic "environment" ever created in Poland.
His highly varied output is very accurately described by Magdalena Dabrowski, American art critic and curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art: "Exploring colour, space and their manifold relationships as his fundamental means of expression, the artist evolved a unique visual language reflecting his artistic interests, discoveries and innovations. His very personal approach to form and the manner in which it was intended to affect viewers resembled much more closely the three-dimensional perception of sculptors or architects, than that of painters with their emphasis on the two-dimensional and the mimetic".
In 1966 the artist immigrated to the United States. He became a leading representative of the up-and-coming Op-art movement. In his work he focused on issues of color and light. Showing light, its spectrum, the chromatic effects of its separation became Fangor's primary aim in his paintings. He produced canvasses composed of colored circles and waves. With pulsating, vibrating contours, his forms generated an impression of movement and various optical illusions. The artist exhibited at some of the world's most famous and prestigious galleries and museums and lectured at a number of notable American universities and colleges. Fangor remains the only Polish artist to have had an individual exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In the 1970s the artist reverted to figurative art; however, space continues to play the primary role in his art. The faces and figures that appear in the artist's canvasses generate a singular emotional space. Fangor is interested in the mass media and the television image inspires much of his work. He has created a series of seemingly realistic images built of small dots that imitate electronic pixels. He is the author of numerous spatial arrangements as well as architectural and scenery designs. In 1989 Wojciech Fangor granted one hundred nine of his works to the Polish state (they were incorporated into the contemporary art collection of the Jacek Malczewski Museum in Radom). Ten years later the artist returned to Poland. He lives and works in an old mill he renovated himself, located in the town of Bledow, midway between Warsaw and Radom.
Of the current exhibition at Warsaw's Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, the artist has said, "The exhibition is based on two contrasting types of space: the INTERNAL and the EXTERNAL. The exhibition is more about HOW than it is about WHAT." Most of the works on view were created within the last ten years. They include figurative paintings inspired by the works of Picasso, the portraits of Indian Chiefs, and vast spatial installations covered with expressive, totemic motifs. The exhibition also references the past through a reconstruction of the artist's exhibition at Warsaw's "New Culture" Salon in 1958 and a selection of the artist's Op-art paintings previously included in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum.
Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle
Centrum Sztuki Wspolczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski
Director: Wojciech Krukowski
Aleje Ujazdowskie 6, 00-461 Warszawa
tel. (+48 22) 628 76 83, 628 12 71-3, 628 64 08
fax (+48 22) 628 95 50