Influ­en­ced by his own past, the excep­tio­nal artist Zdzisław Bek­siń­ski used pho­to­gra­phy to give free rein to thoughts and feelings. 

Zdzisław Beksiński’s 50 year care­er, span­ning over ca. 300 pain­tings, began in 1929 in Sanok, a town in south-eas­tern Poland. Befo­re WWII, Sank encom­pas­sed the hig­hest popu­la­ti­on of Jewish Polish peop­le. In 1939, the Nazis inva­ded Poland, des­pi­te signing a non-aggres­si­on pact with the Soviet Uni­on and in Octo­ber of the same year, the Polish army sur­ren­de­red after losing 65,000 sol­di­ers and several thousand civi­li­ans. During this time Bek­siń­ski expe­ri­en­ced many hor­rors that gave inspi­ra­ti­on for his future career.

The key of unconventional photography

He was not for­mal­ly trai­ned in arts, but deci­ded to stu­dy archi­tec­tu­re in Kraków, here lear­ning the histo­ry and sym­bo­lism of archi­tec­tu­re. Short­ly after this, he retur­ned home to design buses, as well as dis­co­ver a new side hob­by: pho­to­gra­phy. Beksiński’s debut with pho­to­gra­phy came in 1957, a time whe­re pure pho­to­gra­phy was the nor­mal tech­ni­que used by many, con­cer­ned with the use of sharp, rea­listic pho­tos. He sho­cked many with his pho­to­graph, the “Sadist Cor­set”, recei­ving immedia­te back­lash, becau­se of his uncon­ven­tio­nal rejec­tion of the tra­di­tio­nal nude, showing bodies in a rigid and sur­rea­list way. His pie­ces were cal­led anti-pho­to­gra­phy, becau­se they didn’t real­ly depict the sub­ject, more so their reflec­tion through mir­rors, crop­ped lim­bs, shadows or out of focus sil­hou­et­tes. Beksiński’s most used topics and inte­rests were fan­ta­sy, sado­ma­so­chism, ero­ti­ca, Eas­tern mys­ti­cism and abs­trac­tio­n­ism. In the 60’s he dona­ted all his money to the pho­to­gra­phy muse­um in Sanok, belie­ving pho­to­gra­phy limi­ted his ima­gi­na­ti­on, not iden­ti­fy­ing with the strict bor­ders of main­stream pho­to­gra­phy. Till the 1980’s, his most famous art peri­od, the “Fan­tastic seri­es” ent­e­red. Here, all works were unti­t­led, at cau­se of the pos­si­bi­li­ty of crea­ting a mis­con­strued mea­ning or inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the work. This being said, the­re were com­mon simi­la­ri­ties in his work. He most­ly drew hel­lish land­s­capes, dis­tur­bing night­ma­rish figu­res and grim unearth­ly architecture.

Processing of the past

Many belie­ve Bek­siń­ski deals with his per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces during WWII in his pain­tings, espe­cial­ly the use of war hel­mets, red mean figu­res, bur­ning buil­dings and dest­ruc­tion for­ti­fy this theo­ry. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the color blue, more so Prus­si­an blue, plays an inte­res­ting role in the­se hor­ror sce­nes he crea­ted. To crea­te Prus­si­an blue, Prus­sic acid, also cal­led hydro­gen cya­ni­de, was for­mal­ly used, as well as to make “Zyklon B”. This poi­son gas was used by the Ger­mans in gas cham­bers and would lea­ve a blue resi­due on the walls. Under the use of this gas, 1.1 mil­li­on Jews were mur­de­red by Nazis in exter­mi­na­ti­on camps. Many reli­gious sym­bols and crowds sur­roun­ding big­ger, power­ful figu­res show Beksiński’s crowd cri­tique, as well as his cri­tique against reli­gi­on. He shows human bodies as thin, hun­ger stri­cken, some­what unna­tu­ral bein­gs, blen­ding with other objects to crea­te who­le new and sca­ry enti­ties. His pain­tings have an unna­tu­ral, but also natu­ral touch to them, giving the view­er the fee­ling of reaching into the deepest, dar­kest cor­ner of his and our mind.
Beksiński’s mys­te­rious and sur­pri­sing, raw and vis­ceral depic­tion of the human expe­ri­ence of true trau­ma through fan­ta­sy hel­lish dis­plays makes it easier to place yourself in his shoes, his raw emo­ti­on, which he felt during WWII being clear without nee­ding to exp­lain it or put it into words.

Serious losses

Con­si­de­ring this, he felt his pain­tings were misun­ders­tood, as he thought them fun­ny and opti­mistic. Then again, he never wan­ted to paint what was popu­lar in the main­stream art indus­try. Sad­ly, his later life wasn’t fil­led with much joy eit­her. His wife, Zofia, died of can­cer and their son, Tomasz, a very famous and respec­ted jour­na­list, com­mit­ted sui­ci­de. Bek­siń­ski never reco­ve­r­ed from his los­ses and clo­sed hims­elf off from almost ever­yo­ne. In 2005, he was mur­de­red in War­saw by the son of his house kee­per becau­se of his refu­sal of len­ding him money.

The remembrance endures

Beksiński’s mur­der rob­bed the art world of an inge­nious mind and an incredi­ble pain­ter. He was the sym­bol of the birth of modern polish art, fur­ther­mo­re influ­en­cing many rock musi­ci­ans and creators of video games, as well as Oscar awar­ded films. In 2016, a Polish film about his life “The Last Fami­ly” was crea­ted, recom­mend­a­ble for tho­se inte­res­ted more in his life. Zdzisław Bek­siń­ski is an artist ever­yo­ne should know and reco­gni­se, his way of por­tray­ing the raw emo­ti­on of the cri­mes com­mit­ted by Ger­mans in Poland in WWII, as well as lea­ving room for the view­er to inter­pret their own mea­ning into his art­works, being uni­que and infi­ni­te­ly notable.

Get to know Fri­da Kahlo – ano­t­her of the best artists of our time.

0 CommentsKommentare ausblenden

Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Du bist offline :)