Jan Tarasin

"Jan Tarasin was a painter, graphic designer, drawer, photographer, and author of philosophical essays on art. He was born on September 11th 1926 in Kalisz and died on August 8th 2009 in Warsaw. Between 1946 and 1951 he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków with professors Zygmunt Radnicki, Wacław Taranczewski, and Zbigniew Pronaszko as well as graphic design with Andrzej Jurkiewicz and Konrad Strzednicki. He made his debut as a student in 1948, at the first Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków. From 1962 he was a member of the Kraków Group. Between 1963 and 1967 he gave lectures at the Department of Interior Decoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. In 1967 he moved to Warsaw, where in 1974 he started working at the Academy of Fine Arts in an independent painting studio. In 1985 he became a professor of the school and in 1987 he was appointed rector, a position he held until 1990. He worked and lived in Warsaw.
In 1976 he was awarded the Cyprian Kamil Norwid critics’ prize for best painting exhibition and in 1984 – the Jan Cybis prize.

 Jan Tarasin is a classic of contemporary Polish painting. He is considered a disciple of the abstract movement, but in his work he never fully resigned from figurative art. His early paintings from the 1950s are mostly still lives composed from ordinary objects, painted in the spirit of aescetic realism. Realism different from that which was officially in force, clearly existential and symbolic, was widely present in Tarasin’s litographies from that time (the cycle Nowa Huta i jej mieszkańcy / Nowa Huta and its Inhabitants, 1954). In the second half of the 1950s, the objects on Tarasin’s paintings gradually lost their similarity to the originals, gaining their own, specific features. The forms on the pictures became more and more objectified and abstract. Arrangements of elements – called simply “objects” by the artist – were placed in an imaginary, allusive space (like in the cycles Uczta / Feast, 1957; Brzeg / Shore, 1962-64; Antykwariat / Antique shop, 1968).

Tarasin was always interested in the world of objects. He began with a realistic record of objects that he simplified and reduced until a system of abstract signs was formed. These are sign-objects, sign-symbols, traces of shapes taken from the surrounding reality that are reminiscent of letters taken from a non-existent alphabet. Complicated action takes place in the space of Tarasin’s paintings. Objects and people – or rather signs of objects and people – simplified and condensed, turned into a colourful spot, diffuse and regroup accordingly to the inner logic of the composition. Tarasin treats the picture as an intellectual model which speaks about the harmony and disharmony of the world through visual signs. He was interested in searching for mechanisms, through which nature projects and complicates phenomena, concentrates and diffuses them, creates and destroys them. He was also interested in the correlation between logic, determination, imperative laws and chance. The main rule of Tarasin’s paintings was to build arrangements out of objects, searching for the rules that govern them and then defying them. ...."(Author: Ewa Gorządek, Centre for Contemporary Art at the Ujazdowski Castle, December 2004; translation N. Mętrak-Ruda, October 2015. www.culture.pl)

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