Roman Owidzki - Form in Painting
The exhibition of Roman Owidzki (1912-2009), painter and theoretician, professor at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, features paintings and gouaches from the 1940s-1970s. Among the works on show will be Owidzki’s well-known relief paintings characterised by pronounced textural effects, reduced colour range and distinct composition.
The artistic attitude of Owidzki – an erudite, outstanding artist and above all pedagogue – meant that his works could be seldom seen on the public forum. The exhibition at Le Guern Gallery presents works found in his studio by the artist’s niece, Joanna Owidzka, including never previously shown paintings and gouaches. These are unique works, illuminating the development of the artist’s creative path. A graduate of the prewar Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, heir of the legendary Solids and Planes Composition Studio, Owidzki didn’t continue the ideas of his masters, preferring abstract art to the issues of utilitarian thinking. The difficult wartime years meant that his artistic freedom was born in captivity, in the Oflag VIII A internment camp for Polish POWs at Murnau in Bavaria. It was there in 1941-1945 that he created, on pieces of paper obtained only with the greatest difficulty, a series of expressive gouaches. That was the beginning of his journey towards his own ideas and aspirations, of moving away from the real and constraining. ‘Inner necessity’, as Kandinsky called it, overcame external limitations, pushing Owidzki towards new art. The works on paper have the expressiveness and power of large-format productions. The discovery and preservation of an important collection of oil paintings from the turn of the 1950s/1960s has made possible tracing the further stages of the artist’s investigations. The paintings show the construction of compositional logic through rhythms, divisions and planes, with colour initially playing an important role but being gradually reduced to monochromaticity. The featured works from the 1960s and 1970s are representative for the later period of Owidzki’s career, his structural phase. Exploring the specificity and materiality of paper, metal and canvas, Owidzki created relief paintings marked by inner order and harmony. Form in Owidzki’s works establishes an inextricable relationship with material and space.
Roman Owidzki (born 1912 in Ostrowy near Łódź, died 2009 in Warsaw) was a painter, pedagogue, professor of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important Polish artists, consistently developing the language of non-figurative art. He studied at Warsaw University 1931-1934, and at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1935-1939. During the war interned at the Oflag VIII A for Polish POWs in Murnau, Germany. His teaching at the Solids and Planes Composition Studio of the Warsaw Academy’s Faculty of Painting and Graphic Design (from 1965), and then at the Faculty of Painting’s expanded Visual Structures and Practices Studio (1975-1984) was crucial for the development of abstract art in Poland. In 1966, Owidzki co-founded the Foksal Gallery. He was also a draughtsman and illustrator, mainly of children’s books, working for publishers such as Nasza Księgarnia. Solo exhibitions at the Miami Museum of Modern Art (1962), the Association of Polish Musicians in Warsaw (1965), 3A Gallery (Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, 1996), Studio Gallery, Warsaw (2005), the Association of Polish Visual Artists, Warsaw (2007). In the 1960s, Owidzki regularly participated in the Confrontations cyclical exhibition series organised by the Krzywe Koło Gallery (1956-1965). Selected group shows: 1st Exhibition of Modern Art, Kraków (1948); 2nd and 3rd Exhibitions of Modern Art, Warsaw (1957, 1959); Painting Collections of the Krzywe Koło Gallery (1961); Two Worlds, Grabowski Gallery, London (1964); Confrontations, Elbląg (1965); Artists and Scientists Symposium, Puławy (1966); Foksal Gallery (1966); Space, Movement, Light, Wrocław (1967); Krzywe Koło Gallery, National Museum in Warsaw (1990). Owidzki was a recipient of the Cyprian Kamil Norwid Prize (2006) and the Jan Cybis Prize (2007). His works are kept in the collections of the National Museums in Warsaw and Poznań, the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts Museum as well as in numerous private collections in Poland and abroad.
Curators: Marta Kowalewska, Michał Jachuła