Light – Shadow – Information
Od 22.06.2023 do 30.10.2023
Curator Sylwia Świsłocka-Karwot
“Light”, “shadow”, “information” – these are three words that capture the essence and key motifs of Jan Chwałczyk’s work and theoretical reflection. They formed the focal point of his interests and became the inspiration for more than 70 years of work. Chwałczyk developed his unique concept of art understood as creative information, and his work manifests one of the most progressive mechanisms of the neo-avant-gardisation of art, an important point of reference for understanding its post-1945 transformations. The work of this artist remains an unquestionable artistic, scientific and historical value of Wrocław.
The exhibition at the Wrocław Contemporary Museum is part of a three-year research and exhibition project dedicated to two exceptional Wrocław artists: Jan Chwałczyk and Wanda Gołkowska. Both deceased artists (born 1923 and 1925) belong to the group of masters of the Wrocław neo-avant-garde.
“Light – shadow – information” will be the first overview of the artist’s works that brings order to their entire legacy. The aim of the exhibition is not only to show the works he created – spatial objects, paintings, drawings, monotypes – but also the way he thought. The undertaking is accompanied by a comprehensive publication cataloguing over 840 works from the artist’s legacy (ed. Jolanta Studzińska and Sylwia Świsłocka-Karwot).
JAN CHWAŁCZYK was born in Krosno on 15 June 1924. From 1946 to 1951, he studied at the State Higher School of Fine Arts (now the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design) in Wrocław, in the studio of professor Eugeniusz Geppert. For over 70 years of his artistic practice, he worked with drawing, painting and photography, created spatial installations, and actively participated in the mail art movement. He was an organiser of artistic life in Poland and abroad, initiator and author of numerous exhibitions and publications, but also an innovative theoretician of art of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In the 1950s, he co-founded the group of Searching for Form and Colour, and then the Wrocław Group in the 1960s. He also contributed to the establishment of the Mona Lisa Gallery in Wrocław, which was run by the art historian and theoretician Jerzy Ludwiński. It was there that in 1969 he presented his famous “Reproducers of light and shadow”, which he had been developing since 1963. He actively participated in Poland’s most important artistic events of the 1960s and 1970s, including open-air festivals connected with the paradigmatic shift in the understanding of art towards its conceptualisation. Between 1972 and 1974, he ran his own Creative Information (Art) Gallery in Wrocław, where he carried out “Counterpoint” – a unique mail art action of international scope. In 2000–2016, together with his wife, the artist Wanda Gołkowska and students from her studio at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, he ran the group Continuation and Opposition.
Jan Chwałczyk’s oeuvre is strongly connected with the study of the essence of light and shadow, their relation to matter and form, as well as an extremely innovative and original understanding of the concept of art as creative information. The artist created around 600 paintings and drawings, objects and spatial forms. He was also behind the famous “Unlimited vertical composition” (1970) – a project entrusted to him by Henryk Stażewski, which was a drawing against the backdrop of the Wrocław night sky made by light rays from military searchlights.
Jan Chwałczyk died in Wrocław on 10 December 2018.
The project is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Culture Promotion Fund.
il. M. Kubiak
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