TENDERNESS IN THE SHADOW OF ESCHATOLOGY. 'FAMILY SCENES' BY ANDRZEJ WROBLEWSKI (Czulosc w cieniu eschatologii. 'Sceny rodzinne' Andrzeja Wroblewskiego)
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This article concerns the figure of Andrzej Wróblewski (1927-1957), one of the leading Polish painters of the 20th century. The fiftieth anniversary of his death is an occasion for new analyses of his output. The authoress concentrates on the 'family scenes' produced by this artists, recalls Wroblewski's fascination with the works by Chagall and draws parallels between the output of those two artists. In September 1948 Wróblewski published a separate article on Chagall in 'Glos Plastyków'. In that text, he particularly stressed the fantastic suggestiveness of Chagall's paintings, their emotional hold on the recipient, and their artistic quality. He wrote: 'For Chagall, each and every painting is a beginning and an end to the artistic career. It is supposed to act in isolation, like a Gothic cathedral, not in a series like today's blocks of flats. Every time, to construct a good painting (...) is (...) the aim of the entire life'. A comparison of Chagall and Wróblewski's works brings interesting reflections. First of all, it demonstrates that the two artists had in common an abiding interest in the motif of a loving couple, which formed a key element in the output of both. Moreover, Chagall stated that what interested him in art was the 'fourth dimension', i.e. the spiritual one: in his perception a painting was to give a spiritual shock to the viewer; Wroblewski's point of view was similar. By drawing comparisons, however, not only similarities, but also differences are usually found; the case of those two artists is no exception. The works by Chagall are in their majority nostalgic, slightly sentimental reconstructions from memory of the world of the artist's childhood and youth. And considering the chronology of their creation, they are simultaneously a vision across which the long shadow of the Holocaust falls, although on the surface the author appears to ignore this, as if trying to erase the painful recollections from his memory. Wróblewski's practice is different: he melancholically keeps returning to the war experiences seen as the private history defined by the trauma of his father's death; a dead man is the key figure of his oeuvre. Chagall reconstructs the instances from life, whereas Wróblewski in the language of art retells the moment of death, as if he wanted to understand its significance and identify himself with the dead or dying father (cf. the fact that the protagonist of his paintings often has his own face). Both Chagall and Wróblewski seem to have been prisoners of their own past, but they had different attitudes to this past. Chagall and Wróblewski are similar, however, not only in the motifs of their works, but also in their poetic intuition thanks to which their private, archetypal universe of personal experience was in both cases expressed in an anti-narrative, emblematic formula. Both trusted their own vision and went against the contemporary aesthetic canon which focused on the cult of modernity, a cult characteristic both for artistic life of Paris in the 1920's and 30's and for artistic life of Poland in the second half of the 1950's.
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