Andrzej Wróblewski

Andrzej Wróblewski, Mother with a Killed Child, 1949, oil on canvas, Grażyna Kulczyk Collection (left), Execution against a Wall, 1949, οil on canvas, Muzeum Wojska Polskiego, Warsaw (right), installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Andrzej Wróblewski, Mourning News I–VI, 1953, ink on paper, private collection/Andrzej Wróblewski Foundation, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

In a life cut short before the age of 30, Andrzej Wróblewski (1927–57) produced an impressive body of work consisting of paintings, drawings, and prints, and spanning both abstraction and figuration. Stepping against the formula of Polish Colourism that held sway in the art academies at the time, and in a bid to embrace the new doctrine of Socialist Realism, Wróblewski developed an original and distinct visual language.

In 1949, the artist created the “Execution” series comprising eight oil paintings with which he aimed to tackle the subject of the Second World War by also revisiting his own dramatic memories. In August 1941, the artist’s father died of a heart attack at their family home in Vilnius, during a search conducted by the Nazis. Later, when relocating to Kraków with his mother, Wróblewski witnessed the war-ravaged cities and countryside. The disfigured, mangled bodies are captured in different stages of transition between life and death, with the colour blue denoting the deceased.

Mother with a Killed Child, while not part of the series, conveys the message in a similar manner.

In the two series of works on paper from 1953 we see citizens of two countries in Europe grappling with different states of emergency. The North Sea flood that struck the Netherlands claiming the lives of over 1,800 people is filtered through the artist’s ironic critique of the economic and social conditions of the country. The other series features street life in the Polish People’s Republic brought to a standstill by the news of Joseph Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953.

Posted in Public Exhibition