Roman Opałka. The First Three Decades of Creation / 16.01.2015 - 16.01.2015
„I think like a man whothinks while strolling. Not running but strolling, I emphasise. I walkleisurely, I breathe deeply during my long walk. This walk is indeed a strollof a long-distance walker who experiences everything that he does and thereforethe emotionality of the actions is directed towards the world on the one handand on the other hand towards the structure of the work that is continued andmagnified, strengthened by constant addition of new energy” – said Roman Opałka– one of the greatest twentieth-century Polishartists, passed away in 2011, in an interview given to Krzysztof Stanisławski in 1988.
Roman Opałka went down to history of art as theauthor of the „counted paintings”, created as a result of unswerving practice of a programme of describingthe world and passing time by depicting the progression of digits – from1965 to the very end of the artist’s life. Opałka was convincedthat numbers are more helpful in communicating something which cannot actuallybe said. The effect was the creation of numbered compositions entitled „Detail”,attaining record-breaking (inrelation to the Polish reality) prices at Polish and international auctions.Roman Opałka’s work was appreciated by collectors worldwide, which can be proved by its presence in thecollections like these owned by the Museum of Modern Art and the GuggenheimMuseum in New York, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Artin Łódź. The artist also represented Poland at the Venice Biennale in 1995.
The goal of the exhibition in Galeria Miejska is topresent a less known part of Roman Opałka’s oeuvre: large-sized paintings oncardboard and an oil painting from the series "Greek Alphabet" cycle,numerous drawings, gouaches, posters – both at the design stage and finished –medals and book covers. These works surprise us with their excellent form,courageous compositionand colours; the artist had been creating themin Warsaw during the three decades preceding his departure for France in 1977. Thepresentation includes odd and controversial pieces, like the ones praising thePolish People’s Army. While it is true that they are situated outside of theartist’s mainstream work, they do constitute a complementary element of theoeuvre and make it possible to fully understand the opus magnum, i.e. the cycle „Opałka 1965 /1 – ∞”.
The exhibited pieces arepart of an extensive private collection of different works by Roman Opałka,numbering more than 200 pieces, including also numerous photographs, documents,memorabilia, etc. Two large paintings on cardboard come from a collection ownedby Urszula and Krzysztof Strykier. The presentation of Opałka's works iscomplemented by a set of unique, original photographs taken by excellentphotographer Czesław Czapliński at the artist's studio in Bazerac and duringthe Biennale 1995 in Venice.