SPACE – TIME IMAGES
(On Henryk Strumiłło’s painting)
The art of Henryk Strumiłło originates from fascination with the space condensed in the artist’s imagination as neverending landscape. The landscape physical concretness of which admitedly has no equivalent in nature but which is a real existence called upon by the artist, the existence built out of forms clearly dichtomic because on the one hand carefully constructed, whereas on the other hand – as if by a paradox – citing the projection of freed intuition.
Already at the beginning of the artist’s experiences in the middle of the sixties there were searches of microcosm vision found in microscopic preparation. In the paintings preserved from that period – “White microcosm” and “Red microcosm” – there were images as if of “inner” landscapes. Their contemporary reading only as abstract pictures realised within the “informel” circle of stylistics might have been immediately recognised as not quite full taking into consideration already very expressive visionality of the artist’s imagination consistent with the landscape cannon of painting. It became striking obvious already about 1968 when there appeared forms as if inspired by a mountainous landscape, forms which should most accurately be called space-time images. The obvious references to the dramatic of its own nature tissue of rocky material – once rising up and next time collapsing into deep, boundless rifts – made up their clearly expressive way of representation.
The artist looks at the world as the theatre of dramatic contrasts and tensions. Jagged compositions citing landscape forms made unreal – mostly built on contrasts of whites or light ochres with browns, blackness, greyness and sometimes enriched with the streaks of cold blue – became in Strumiłło’s output a monolithic world synthesis realised for over thirty years. In its lucid picture we shall not encounter at first sight any reference to the existence of man. Treated only literally as landscapes of distant planets, these visions of Strumiłło could be referred to other worlds where inhospitable ground did not create space for a living creature.
The analysis of Strumiłło’s art however could be subjected to such philosophy only if there had to be found simple, naive answers. In case of “space – time images” created by the painter’s language projection of shapes suggesting the presence of a living creature would break the purity of conventionality worked out by the artist. The idea of his art is realised in definite ambiguity of forms subjected to the rules of abstractness. One cannot forget that Strumiłło, consistently exploiting stylistics from the border line of gesture expression, creates a vision of picture basing on very carefully worked out construction rules. In this meaning the existing in art associations of concrete representations and shapes known from nature are only “auxiliary”. Therefore, even omitting literary titles with which the artist likes to provide his paintings, emotional suggestiveness of his works – though impressive – is always kept within the limits of structural order.
Henryk Strumiłło willingly employs pathos as a kind of formal note of exclamation. Chasing with traditional scumbling means the vision of inhuman and sometimes even wild world, the artist is looking for such information code which helps the recipient discover a few moral messages of this art. The artist says that the space surrounding man is threatening as long as it does not subject itself to regulating procedures of intelligent creature. The role of man is to sort it out but without tearing out the whole secret from unknowable, inconceivable and ambiguous matters. Therefore this painting, realised with great colouristic reverence, as a result carries an optimistic message. It is a remarkable reflection of man’s struggle with material.