Nov 10, 2011

Beksinski painting technique

This is the first entry in the series dealing with the Zdzislaw Beksinski's painting technique. In this section you will learn about paints the artist used. These are quotations from the artist's correspondence (which originate from the eighties of the twentieth century) with his art dealer and friend Piotr Dmochowski. Pardon me my linguistic errors of translation. More posts to come (varnishing, impregnation, priming, mediums, preparing fibreboard). Hope you find it useful.

I paint with Rowney's paints "ARTIST OIL COLOURS" and Talens' "REMBRANDT ARTIST OIL COLOURS", as well as Rowney's "CRYLA - ACRYLIC" and Talens' "REMBRANDT-ACRYLIC".
For each painting I use a certain amount of colors, do not go beyond that.
As for the brushes I use only those that I have and which I could afford. There are better but I failed to buy.
Brushes I use are almost entirely flat and hard, that is, either from pig bristles or nylon. Of course with several gradations of hardness and with various hair length. Minor trims, finishings and small brightenings paint with small number, round sable brushes. But that's just when finishing off the image in just a few places.

Paints are not divided into red or blue, but into expensive and cheap. Some red are cheap, some blue as well and the opposite too. The same applies to other colors. Next, there are whole "series" expensive or cheaper.
The most expensive paints are "artistic", the cheaper are "for artists", more cheaper are "budget", even cheaper "to study", the cheapest "for schools".
I paint with paints absolutely most expensive (as the series), but when it comes to the colors, I do not go by the price! In Polish conditions, buy them in large amounts, paints in Poland are hard to get, I get them thanks to people. [translator's note: Beksinski wrote this during communist era in Poland).

I am not guided in choosing colors with nothing but imagination and the persistence of what I do to light.  Resign of certain color because it's unstable or can not be mixed with all others or threatens that will respond to hydrogen sulfide from the atmosphere or free fatty acids in linoxide.

The paints produced by good companies are divided into: "absolutely stable", "stable", "stable with limitations" and "unstable". I do not purchase at all paints that are "unstable" even though they are the prettiest. They are produced due to tradition of using certain pigments, but they slowly becoming obsolete.
I have paints "stable with limitations" but never used them (eg: white leaded, Prussian blue etc.) because they hinder the work. Can not be mixed with any other paint but only selected ones, for example they are sensitive to hydroxides etc.. I use "absolutely stable" and "stable" paints only. They are all chemically neutral and can be mixed together in any proportion. Between them both there is this difference that paints "absolutely stable" does not change under any influence over the millennia (ochers, cobalts, iron reds, etc.). However "stable" may slightly fade if they were exposed to the direct sunlight for hundreds of years, or worse, further brightened with white and then fried in the sun.
But what we now call "stable" paints had neither Leonardo nor Ucello and they're so damn resistant to light.
I checked myself red and violet cadmiums (painted in a thin layer) exposing them through a thin window for over two years in direct sunlight and nothing happened - any perceptible change.
Modern chemistry has given us better paints than old masters had. Only the painters are worse.
More damage to painted images causes darkness, especially works with the bright colors and painted with bluish and white.
Dried linseed oil - linoxide (translator's note: linoxid? - the product of oil oxidation) darkens due to the lack of light (as seen for example on the doors painted in white, if it has a calendar hanging on it). There is a conservation technique of lightening old, yellowed images due to holding them in the basement, using the quartz lamp exposure, because darkened linoxyd can get slightly lighter this way (and then darkens again, if there is no light). Because this darkening has a character of yellowing and browning after years, the paintings with brown, yellow and red colors are less exposed to visible changes, than blue, white and steel. And in any case the latter must always be kept in the light - then the changes are less visible.
All this does not apply to acrylics. Pigments are the same, but there is no yellowing. However, not everything can be paint with acrylics and it is mechanically easier to dirt and more difficult to clean. It is simply because acrylic painting is porous and dirt gets in these microscopic pores and can not be removed.

Apr 9, 2011

Brief information about Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski, one of the most outstanding contemporary painters, was born on 24 February, 1929, at Sanok. He studied architecture in Cracow, but plied this profession just for a few years. He began his career of an independent artist with photography, gaining right away the great appreciation by the artistic community and the public. But photography proved to be an episode in his life. In the early 1960's, Beksinski made up his mind to focus on drawing, sculpture and also the composition of spatial metal-made paintings--reliefs. At that time, his art was not much different from the then common conventions of artistic "modernity", a reaction to the recent doctrine of socialistic realism. But people began to mention Beksinski among those who promised most.

His success began with the first major exhibition of his paintings and drawings in Warsaw in 1964. The next exhibitions came in 1967, 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1981, confirming the rank of the artist in contemporary art. Beksinski became an idol for some, a whipping boy for others, leaving no one indifferent.

As the time passed, he began to paint more and more, at the expense of drawing, where he achieved sui generis mastership and which he ultimately abandoned in the mid-1970's. He became a well-known painter, more than that: a popular and best-selling artist, although he exhibited less and less frequently — after 1981 there has been no major exhibition of his works. In 1983, Piotr Dmochowski, a lawyer who was a permanent resident in France, became interested in Beksinski's work. First, he organized for him two large exhibitions in Paris (1985, 1986), and planned others, including those in the USA. The name of the painter, which had previously been known to few enthusiasts abroad, now became popular with the general European public.

His art has been given various labels. As long as he was an avant-garde, modern artist, he fitted perfectly the 20th-century current of abstractionism. Trouble began as he abandoned the avant-garde for drawing and representational painting. Part of the artistic community and certain critics turned away from him, considering this choice a betrayal. But the general public came in greater crowds, who could identify in the paintings mysterious visions which appealed strongly to the imagination. As the years passed, he was given the label of a maker of dreams, metaphysics, and metaphore. He was charged with surrealism, psychopathy and with a wish to shock. As for him, he always pointed out that what he was keen to do was to paint fine pictures, just as this notion had been conceived in the 19th century.

He defines his work as "photography of visions". A vision is a volatile product of the subconscious and a painting serves to fix this passing event. Thus, it is not symbolic painting and contains no additional meanings, of the sort of ones "bracing up the hearts" or those "showing the evil of this world". He who demands that alleged mysteries hidden in painted scenes, people and objects should be solved, makes a fundamental mistake: these paintings reveal realities which are beyond reason and logic. The mystery contained in these visions is related, e.g., to Kafka; Beksinski himself does not renounce spiritual connections with, e.g., Boecklin or Kaspar Friedrich. He is most strongly attracted by modernism, decadence, 19th-century precision of works, which he has, at any rate, achieved in his painting. He considers music the highest form of art. He is unable to create without music.

He was a detached and independent artist. He belonged to no groups, unions and associations, including social ones. He took no part in artistic life and was not active in broadly conceived culture. Concentrated on himself and his own internal experiences, to many, he was an eccentric, recluse and egotist. But painting was for him simply a way of life, or rather, life itself. The feeling of absurdity of existence which he always had, and which he shared with the existentialists, triggers in his art everoccurring images of death, decline and disintegration. Perhaps, this is the only message which we can read from these works — we can defend ourselves from death by various ways, e.g., by painting.

Written by Tadeusz Nyczek.

Mar 19, 2011

Close-up of master's work from the 90s

According to Poseur Execution's wish, it's a composition with implied figures and higher abstraction this time.
Acrylic painting on fibre-board. Flat white background and "carved in stone" like figures. Beginning of the 90s.

Examples of other works from this series above.
Dog-like figure with two close-ups below.

I'll take more pictures of Beksinski works in the summer this year as I'm going to visit his museum in Sanok (Poland).

Mar 3, 2011

Beksinski painting close-up

These are three close-ups to one of Beksiński paintings from 1981. Take a look how he worked up details.

Let me know (by leaving a comment) if you want to see more close-ups of his other paintings. I've got a few more. You won't find this level of details on a reproduction of any kind.

Feb 12, 2011

Henryk Waniek paintings

Henryk Waniek (born 4.03.1942 in Auschwitz) is a silesian painter, writer and art reviewer. He was a good friend of Zdzislaw Beksinski.

Examples of his surreal oil paintings and drawings: