Alfred Lenica

"Alfred Lenica was a painter. He was born on 4th August 1899 in Pabianice, died on 16th April 1977 in Warsaw.
He commenced his higher education in 1922 at the University of Poznań's department of Law and Economics. A year later, he joined the Music Conservatory in Poznań, where he studied playing string instruments. In 1925, he took up studies in the Private Institute of Fine Arts of Adam Hanytkiewicz and J. Kubowicz. During the Second World War, Lenica lived with his family in Kraków, where he made friends with the painter Jerzy Kujawski. Thanks to him, Lenica became interested in surrealism and joined in the activities of Kraków's avant-garde circles concentrated around Tadeusz Kantor.

 Lenica's relationship with the Kraków art environment was so strong that it resulted in him being invited to the 1st Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków in December 1948, and later, in 1965, in his admission to the Kraków Group. His family returned to Poznań in 1945. In the same year, Lenica joined the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and the trade union of the Polish Visual Artists of the Poznań Region. Two years later, he was elected president of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers (ZPAP) in Poznań. In 1947, together with Ildefons Houwalt and Feliks M. Nowomiejski, Lenica founded the avant-garde art group 4F+R (standing for Forma – Form, Farba – Paint, Faktura – Texture, Fantastyka – Fantasy + Realizm – Realism). In 1956, Lenica permanently moved to Warsaw, where he was an active participant in debates and collective exhibitions at the Krzywe Koło Gallery.
In 1962, the artist was awarded the Main Prize at the 1st Festival of Contemporary Polish Painting in Szczecin.
Lenica's works belong to the collections of, among others, National Museums in Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Szczecin, the Art Museum in Łódź, and numerous private collections in Poland and abroad.

 Lenica's output was mostly influenced by two major genres of European early 20th century art: cubism and surrealism. In the 1930s, Lenica was interested in modern painting and drew inspiration from cubism. His figurative paintings (Wiolonczelista / Cellist I and II, as well as Rodzina / Family from 1934) were characterised by strong, flat forms with a strong outline, which the artist set against very geometricised, accumulated elements. Later on, his works began reflecting the influence of symbolism and surrealism, for instance in the paintings Nafta rządzi światem / The World is Ruled by Oil (1938-41) or W poszukiwaniu straconego czasu / In Search of Lost Time (1939), which are very clearly inspired by the art of De Chirico and Salvador Dalí. Just before the Second World War and soon after its end, the artist painted compositions featuring unexpected juxtapositions of various object, giving them lyrical titles (Kiedy młodość znajdzie się w wichrze / When Youth Finds Itself in a Whirlwind, 1948). Lenica gradually moved away from representations of real objects and towards a monumentalised form constructed out of simplified items, which he occasionally placed in a phantasmagoric space and empty landscape."

Author: Ewa Gorządek, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, March 2006, transl. Ania Micińska, November 2015 ( )

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