April 11, 2015

Zdzisław Beksiński - Master of arts so dark they require souls to bathe in light after exposure

Beksiński, born in 1929, was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor. He studied architecture in Kraków, completing his studies in 1955, and started out working as a construction site supervisor immediately after. It didn't take him long to realize he hated that kind of work as he found himself more interested in what else he could create with site materials such as plaster, metal and wire. It's during this period that he also developed an interest in montage photography and painting.

Beksiński had no formal training as an artist. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints.

In the late 1960s, Beksiński entered what he himself called his "fantastic period", which lasted up to the mid-1980s. This is his best-known period, during which he created very disturbing images, showing a surrealistic, post-apocalyptic environment with very detailed scenes of death, decay, landscapes filled with skeletons, deformed figures and deserts. These paintings were quite detailed, painted with his trademark precision. At the time, Beksiński claimed, "I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams".

Beksiński was adamant that even he did not know the meaning of his artworks and was uninterested in possible interpretations; in keeping with this, he refused to provide titles for any of his drawings or paintings. Before moving to Warsaw in 1977, he burned a selection of his works in his own backyard, without leaving any documentation on them. He later claimed that some of those works were "too personal", while others were unsatisfactory, and he didn't want people to see them.

In the latter part of the 1990s, he discovered computers, the Internet, digital photography and photomanipulation, a medium that he focused on until his death.

The late 1990s were a very trying time for Beksiński. His wife, Zofia, died in 1998; a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz committed suicide. Beksiński discovered his son's body. Unable to come to terms with his son's death, he kept an envelope "For Tomek in case I kick the bucket" pinned to his wall.

On the 21st of February 2005, Beksiński was found murdered in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body.

It's hard for me to say I like his work, it is after all nightmare fuel, but I can definitely appreciate the genius of it. If Dali and Giger ever would have made a baby together, I imagine their spawn would have produced work similar to Beksiński's. Even though most of his paintings depict tormented souls and surreal hellscapes, it's not all bad as even his darkest visions tend to make you feel for their subjects.

Most of his work can be found here; http://beksinski.dmochowskigallery.net/galeria_past.php

Zdzisław Beksiński

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