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Jolanta Caban
Bogusław Lustyk (ur. /b. 1940)
Bogusław Lustyk (ur. /b.1940)
Jolanta Caban
Bogusław Lustyk (ur. /b.1940)
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Eugeniusz Gerlach - Four Faces of Artistic Work

13:05 03/04/2014


The opening will take place on 5 September 2013 at 18:00
the Gallery DAP3 [House of Artist] Warsaw District ZPAP
11a Mazowiecka Street in Warsaw.
The exhibition will be: 3 -22 September 2013

What do great painting, diplomacy and Olympic sports have in common?

The purpose - recording good form that leads to victories and fame. Recording form that is perfect, lasting and victorious. In diplomacy, form means dignity, nobility, knowledge and style. In music, form is the great art of a person’s vocal range or the sounds produced by an instrument. In sport, record-breaking form brings victories and laurels. In painting, form determines the timeless value of a painting, the quality of a collection or an exhibition, and the prestige and fame of an artist. The title of a painting acts like a magnet that attracts people's interest in and attention to the work, for the painting to be discovered and recorded in a person's memory. A person looking at a painting will find the painting delightful and admirable only if its form is truly great. This is followed by the person’s desire to own the painting he or she is looking at. Eugeniusz Gerlach has a great feel for sports, which is proved by his paintings depicting many olympic sports: Błękitny balet [The Sky Blue Ballet], Bokserzy [Boxers], Koszykarze [Basketball Players], Orzeł z Wisły [The Eagle from Wisła, a picture referring to a famous Polish ski-jumper], Piłkarski balet [Football Ballet], Piłkarze [Football Players], Sztangista [Weightlifter], Tenisista [Tennis Player], Walka o piłkę [Fighting for the Ball], Znicz olimpijski [The Olympic Torch], Zapaśnicy [Wrestlers]. Sport in Gerlach’s paintings is a showpiece of Polish art that will delight the spectators at the Sochi 2014, Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games.

The prestige of the artist is determined by his fundamental qualities: IMAGINATION, KNOWLEDGE, PERSEVERANCE and WORKMANSHIP, and consolidated by his paintings, exhibitions, photographs, films, critical texts and interviews. All his achievements have also determined Gerlach’s artistic profile. He is a mature, sensitive and demanding artist and a curator of his own collections and exhibitions. The degree of excellence and the size of the collection determine the character of the first original pinacotheca in Poland. It has been opened in Kraków and is dynamically managed by Eugeniusz's son, Stanisław.

 What makes Gerlach’s pinacotheca in Kraków attractive and delightful?

It contains a collection of paintings on different and carefully selected supports. They are painted on dense, waterproof, matt canvas supports of the same thickness; on wood or wood imitation panels; on dense, hard, damp-resistant cardboard and on a special type of paperboard. He is an experienced, sensitive and demanding artist who avoids aesthetic experiments. He does not paint on glass, plaster, metal, stone and plastics. His talent, imagination, experience and courage improve and expand artistic expression. Gerlach’s paintings, attractive in form, style and substance, are remembered for ever. This produces a creatively and colourfully painted theme, harmoniously contracted with natural light. Is it stained glass you are looking at?

 The pictures exhibited are static and complete. They have constant light. Gerlach painted them in a masterly manner to make them move, interest or even surprise the people looking at them. Looking at some of the pictures, I have the feeling of having to think of the entire collection. I see the collection as unique stained glass windows, filled with abstraction or figurative painting form on glass. It is an illusion. You are looking at pictures painted on canvas. The greatness of art and the excellence of artistic work are based on trust in the artist. You are looking at Eugeniusz Gerlach’s distinctive expression, stronger than the captions under his paintings and information on what you are looking at.

The fantasy of lines and colours lends dynamism to his pictures and makes you feel you are looking at many designs for stained glass sections. The sections of his pictures, with different light effects, move your thoughts to your memory and imagination. This makes the paintings dynamic. They delight you with something new and something old, associated with other pictures. In the paintings, I can see the lead mesh of a stained glass window or black pieces of the mesh, instead of a drawing structure and a painting composition on canvas. The inner dynamism in the sections of the colourful picture painted on canvas becomes a separate theme and a unique ornament. Gerlach’s pictures stimulate your imagination and memory, giving rise to surprising associations. Suddenly, you move from a gallery of paintings to stained glass windows in palaces, town halls, places of worship and castles. Erected on a grand scale and with care, since the Middle Ages till today.

 Creating stained glass windows is painting without the use of a support, where the dynamic and changing colours are created by the light streaming through the glass picture from one side. This has been the case since the Middle Ages, both in Byzantium and Europe. Now you discover Gerlach’s ‘stained glass paintings’, which change depending on your perspective of looking at them. Painters were often sceptical about this form and category of artistic composition. The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer, of 1960, at Rijksmuseum, has only light from a window, not the variety of light from a stained glass window. Stained glass windows, like paintings, came to be attributes of places of worship. Gerlach has a sound knowledge of the paintings and stained glass work of Wyspiański and Mehoffer displayed at St Mary’s Church and at Wawel Castle in Kraków. He knows that Stanisław, son of a composer and brother of the writer Boy-Żeleński, founded Krakowski Zakład Witrażów S.G Żeleński [S.G Żeleński Stained Glass Workshop], in Kraków in 1902, which has been in operation ever since.

Are these examples the artist's game with his audience? Should pictures be unambiguous? Are they more beautiful and aesthetically valuable if they carry many meanings? Gerlach’s intentions are deciphered and interpreted by his audience. The play of colours between the lines in the pictures makes you feel you are looking at stained glass. I see the abstract, art-deco, constructivist and new-figuration pictures painted by Gerlach as designs for huge stained glass windows that change as the sunlight changes at different times of the day. Are Duet [Duo] of 2004 and Grająca na harfie [Woman Playing the Harp] of 2012 del’arte stained glass works for a philharmonic building? Is Trzy gracje [The Three Graces] of 2011 a design for stained glass for a musical theatre? Will Pianistka [Pianist] of 2006 be part of a comedy show? Is Kompozycja geometryczna [Geometrical Arrangement]) of 2012 a design for the Polish Architects' Association?

Gerlach’s pictures are aesthetically charged and powerful. They stimulate imagination and keep stress away. These casual, changing, light but dynamic forms inside the compositions feature subdued and sophisticated colours. The oil painting technique used by the artist lets you discover designs for stained glass windows in his pictures. These associations link Gerlach's paintings with the artistic achievements of supremacists: Kazimierz Malewicz, Aleksander Rodczenka, Jerzy Nowosielski, Jonasz Stern, Andrzej Wróblewski, Leon Chwistek (Miasto fabryczne [Factory Town], 1949) and Henryk Stażewski (an advertisement project of 1924, where colour distribution and saturation were to be achieved from a palette).

Gerlach’s pictures electrify with their style and scale, determining the sensitivity of collectors and young audiences. For museums and art galleries, the exhibition carries aesthetic, cultural, social, civilisational and interpretative values. Investors will enjoy looking at them today and enjoy benefits in the future. Gerlach’s beautiful and stained glass-like paintings are a greater source of satisfaction for owners of works of art than stocks and shares are. Gerlach’s stained glass-like and abstract paintings are an investment in good and beauty. Collectors collect paintings as investments and out of sentimental attachment to the works in their collections. The pictures increase a sense of social prestige measured by the artistic signs around us.

The pictures exhibited in Warsaw are characteristic and classic. They meet the requirement of beauty that causes a sense of liking. Gerlach’s exhibitions are dynamic and intimate. They reveal an intriguing secret that is remembered by the audience. Gerlach’s paintings can be discovered not only at exhibitions, but also at the artist's studio in Kraków, a studio that has the atmosphere of an original, secretive, accessible and hospitable pinacotheca. While discovering the artist, please note that his first name is not a marketing abbreviation of EUropean Geniusz [Geniusz means ‘genius’ in English], but his name unchanged since he was born in Bieniawia, in the district of Podhajce, in 1941.   

Władysław Serwatowski