Exposition Art Blog: Franciszek Starowieyski

Franciszek Starowieyski

Franciszek Andrzej Bobola Biberstein-Starowieyski (July 8, 1930, in Bratkówka, Poland – February 23, 2009) was a Polish artist."Endowed with a baroque imagination, Starowieyski is highly adept at combining sensuous forms with intellectual messages, producing unexpected effects and shocking surrealist visions. His art is exquisitely ornamental and uses a plethora of unique metaphors and an individual system of signs originating from his beloved baroque esthetics. His paintings reveal a fascination with the sensuous, Rubensian female bodies and convey a reflection on passing and death. Saturated with grotesque and humour, his art combines the real world with creations of his rampant imagination and makes ostentatious references to the 17th century masters. Starowieyski, who is a master of drawing, says of himself,
    "Ever since I remember, drawing has been my language. It best expresses my thoughts".
The calligraphically precise lines of his drawings are impressive. He uses them to buil extraordinary, surrealist visions which combine dissimilar, unrelated motifs to achieve grotesque and metaphorical meanings. His predilection for calligraphy, penchant for fantasy, preference for the macabre and pursuit of the anatomy as well as his chiaroscuro, modeling and dynamic compositions are all rooted in the 17th century. His works often include German-like commentaries styled to look like the 17th century calligraphy, as well as titles executed in ornamental lettering. Since 1970 he has been back-dating his works by three hundred years, maintaining that this reflects the state of his soul and mind, a spirit of a 17th century ancestor having incarnated himself in him. He said in an interview that he has the impression of living "in those times, and the rest - things that took place later, up to what we take to be today - is just a matter of imagination".
He likes to shock with his art and his behaviour, Salvadore Dali undoubtedly being his role model. He once said, "The viewer expects the artist to scandalize, insult and shock him". His popularity started as early as the 1960s with a series of theatre and film posters. Indeed, owing to him the poster acquired the status of a stand-alone art." (Autor: Ewa Gorzałek, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, May 2006; updated: February 2009 culture.pl )

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