Zdzislaw Beksinski - Photographer & Painter
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You may not immediately be familiar with the name Zdzislaw Beksinski, but I suspect you are familiar with at least some of his work, even if you don't recognize his name.
Beksinski was a pre-teen and then a teenager during the Soviet occupation of Poland and, in both his photographs and paintings, he often depicts the horrors of war he witnessed first-hand in Sanok, the small-medium sized city where he was born. The area had a large Jewish community, so many of Beksinski's neighbors were transferred to the nearby city of Zaslaw where many spent up to three years in the concentration camp located there.
In the mid-1950s Beksinski began taking photographs and it didn't take long for his work to become recognized and admired (and openly criticized) by many. Beksinski rebelled against the established and popular genre of the time, known as "straight" or "pure" photography (depicting subjects as they really are - Ansel Adams is a famous example of a photographer working within this genre) and, instead, leaned toward surrealistic photography, that enables photographers to present normal subjects, but portray them in a dream-like, hallucinatory, or slightly distorted or out-of-focus manner. Beksinski's photographs make powerful statements by not focusing on clarity of the subject(s) in the photos, but relies on the amalgamation of reality with fantasy and creating atmospheres that land somewhere in the middle of these two visions.
In the 1960s Beksinski all but abandoned photography, believing he had nothing more to contribute to the medium, and began painting. It is for his paintings Beksinski is best known.
Beksinski's paintings frequently embrace architecture (including it's various symbolisms), spiritualism, eroticism, horror and landscapes of dream logic.
Every painting of Beksinski's is untitled because Beksinski didn't want titles or descriptions to influence the interpretations of his work by observers - Beksinski wanted onlookers to create their own analysis and perceptions of his work, without the assistance of titles or artist explanations or suggestions.
In his paintings, Beksinski often depicts the horrors of World War II, to include the frequent portrayals of war helmets, burning buildings, subjects unhealthfully skinny, distorted human faces, and destruction and chaos. And, Beksinski occasionally includes the color Prussian Blue in his art - a color named after the color produced by the chemical potassium ferrocyanide, a chemical used to create Zyklon-B, the pesticide used to kill millions of prisoners, mainly Jews, in concentration camps throughout Europe. Prussian Blue is the exact color of the residue left on walls, ceilings, and floors after Zyklon-B is released and settles.
Zdzislaw Beksinski's work is among the most powerful and meaningful I've seen. Beksinski's art allows the horrors of reality to mingle with the fantastic.
If you are interested in learning more or seeing additional images, you can Google his name or visit the Zdzislaw Beksinski museum website at http://muzeum.sanok.pl/.../galeria-zdzislawa-beksinskiego.