|Died||21 February 2005 (aged 75)|
|Education||Tadeusz Kościuszko University of Technology in Kraków|
|Known for||Painting, sculpture, photography|
|Awards||Order of Polonia Restituta|
Beksiński made his paintings and drawings in what he called either a Baroque or a Gothic manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of "utopian realism" and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism.
Zdzisław Beksiński was born in Sanok, southern Poland. He studied architecture at Kraków Polytechnic in 1947, finishing his studies in 1952. He returned to Sanok in 1955, working as a construction site supervisor, but found that he did not enjoy it. During this period, he had an interest in montage photography, sculpting, and painting. When he first started sculpting, he often used his construction site materials for his medium. His early photography was a precursor to his later paintings, often depicting peculiar wrinkles, desolate landscapes, and still-life faces on rough surfaces. His paintings often depict anxiety, such as torn doll faces, or faces erased or obscured by bandages wrapped around the portrait. His main focus was on abstract painting, although it seems his works in the 1960s were inspired by surrealism.
Painting and drawingEdit
Beksiński had no formal training as an artist. He was a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Kraków Polytechnic, receiving an MSc in 1952. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels that he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints. Beksinski listened to classical music while painting.
Beksiński undertook painting with a passion, working intensely while listening to classical music. He soon became the leading figure in contemporary Polish art. In the late 1960s, Beksiński entered what he himself called his "fantastic period," which lasted into the mid-1980s. This is his best-known period, during which he created disturbing images, showing a gloomy, surrealistic environment with detailed scenes of death, decay, landscapes filled with skeletons, deformed figures, and deserts. These detailed works were painted with his trademark precision. At the time, Beksiński claimed, "I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams."
Despite the grim overtones, Beksiński claimed some of his works were misunderstood; in his opinion, they were rather optimistic or even humorous. For the most part, Beksiński was adamant that even he did not know the meaning of his artworks and was uninterested in possible interpretations; in keeping with this notion, he refused to provide titles for any of his drawings or paintings. Before moving to Warsaw in 1977, he destroyed a selection of his works in his own backyard, without leaving any documentation concerning them.
According to Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro "In the medieval tradition, Beksinski seems to believe art to be a forewarning about the fragility of the flesh––whatever pleasures we know are doomed to perish––thus, his paintings manage to evoke at once the process of decay and the ongoing struggle for life. They hold within them a secret poetry, stained with blood and rust."
The 1980s marked a transitory period for Beksiński. During this time, his works became more popular in France due to the endeavors of Piotr Dmochowski, and Beksiński achieved significant popularity in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. His art, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, focused on monumental or sculpture-like images rendered in a restricted and often subdued colour palette, including a series of crosses. Paintings in this style, which often appear to have been sketched densely in coloured lines, were much less lavish than those of his "fantastic period" but just as powerful. In 1994, Beksiński explained, "I'm going in the direction of a greater simplification of the background, and at the same time a considerable degree of deformation in the figures, which are being painted without what's known as naturalistic light and shadow. What I'm after is for it to be obvious at first sight that this is a painting I made".
Later life and deathEdit
Beksiński's wife, Zofia, died in 1998; a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz (a popular radio presenter, music journalist and movie translator) committed suicide by drug overdose. 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 21 February 2005, Beksiński was found dead in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body; two of the wounds were determined to have been fatal. Robert Kupiec, the teenage son of his longtime caretaker, and a friend were arrested shortly after the crime. On 9 November 2006 Robert Kupiec was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and his accomplice, Łukasz Kupiec, to 5 years by the court of Warsaw. Before his death, Beksiński had refused to loan Robert Kupiec a few hundred zlotys (approximately US$100).
Although Beksiński's art was often grim, he himself was known to be a pleasant person who took enjoyment from conversation and had a keen sense of humor. He was modest and somewhat shy, avoiding public events such as the openings of his own exhibitions. He credited music as his main source of inspiration. He claimed not to be much influenced by literature, cinema or the work of other artists, and almost never visited museums or exhibitions. Beksiński avoided concrete analysis of the content of his work, saying "I don't want to say or convey anything. I just paint what comes to my mind". He was especially dismissive of those who sought or offered simple answers to what his work 'meant'.
The town of Sanok, Poland, houses a museum dedicated to Beksiński. A Beksiński museum housing 50 paintings and 120 drawings from the Dmochowski collection (who owns the biggest private collection of Beksiński's art), opened in 2006 in the City Art Gallery of Częstochowa, Poland. On 18 May 2012 with the participation of Minister of Regional Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska and others took place ceremonial opening of The New Gallery of Zdzisław Beksiński in the rebuilt wing of the castle. On 19 May 2012, The New Gallery opened for the public. A 'Beksiński cross', in the characteristic T-shape frequently employed by the artist, was installed for Burning Man to honour the artist's memory.
During the years 1963–1965, Beksiński wrote short stories. However, he was unhappy with the results and sealed them away, deciding to hone his skills in painting instead. For half a century, they remained a secret to everyone except the artist's closest friends and family. In 2015, a decade after Beksiński was killed, a collection of his short stories was published. Despite their unfinished and chaotic nature, the literary works of Beksiński are considered an intriguing journey into his past, reminiscent of his later dreamlike paintings; they vary from abstract onirist tales and philosophical self-reflections to metaphorical post-apocalyptic fiction and crime thriller stories. Beksiński's literary period is described as "short and intensive", as he wrote 40 short stories in fewer than two years, experimenting with form and narrative.
In other mediaEdit
The unblack metal band Antestor used "The Trumpeter" as cover art for their album Omen (2012). In a 2013 interview, Antestor explained that they chose "The Trumpeter" because "Our music represents the more broken and monster-like feelings of our humanity, like the apparition in this picture."
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- Cowan, J. (Ed.) 2006: The Fantastic Art of Beksinski – Zdzislaw Beksinski: 1929–2005, 3rd edn., Galerie Morpheus International, Las Vegas. ISBN 1-883398-38-X.
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- Gazeta Wyborcza, an interview with Zdzisław Beksiński
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- Beksinski Official Youtube channel with interviews and documentary footage
- Beksinski Official Store
- Zdzisław Beksiński at Culture.pl
- Zdzisław Beksiński virtual museum (in Polish, German, English, and French)
- Zdzisław Beksiński gallery (in Polish)
- An Artist does not live anymore. In memoriam for Zdzisław Beksiński by a film director Piotr Andrejew, KINO, no. 6/2005 (in Polish)
- Documentary crowdfunding Crowdfunder to finance a feature-length documentary on Beksinski's life
- The Cursed Paintings of Zdzisław Beksiński at Culture.pl
- Zdzisław Beksiński's Life and Work from Historical Museum in Sanok where much of his work is housed