Antoni Starczewski. The Idea of linear notation.
Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź, PL
31.03. - 31.07.2022
Antoni Starczewski (1924–2000) is one of the most fascinating artists of the Łódź postwar period, a man who created compelling and original art, and also, on more than one occasion, was a forerunner of world trends and artistic practices. He worked in a variety of media: ceramics, prints, textiles, and also in situ projects. He explored the realms of visual art, music, and language. One of the basic mandates behind Antoni Starczewski’s work was a refusal to separate fine arts from decorative arts. He quite consciously set out to express his ideas in a variety of materials and techniques, for he saw art as a sphere where related statements in many forms affected one another. “Antoni Starczewski was a remarkably original artist. In every field we clearly see that he took a path marked by his own thought processes, while current trends in art were of secondary concern to him,” says Marta Kowalewska, head curator of the Łódź museum.
This exhibition contains around two hundred of Starczewski’s works: tapestries, prints, photographs, ceramic pieces, installations with porcelain fruits and vegetables, and ready-made pieces. They come from the collections of the Central Museum of Textiles, as well as the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, the National Museum in Warsaw, the National Museum in Szczecin, the Polish Sculpture Center in Orońsko, the Municipal Art Gallery in Łódź, Gallery 86, and a private collection. The works center on the notion of the linear notation, conceived and rendered as a sequence of signs that creates new forms. This was how the artist expressed his observations and comments on the reality surrounding him.
In every form he explored the issues of rhythm, difference in repetition, and sign systems. He created his own alphabet of forms and, in a natural manner, transferred it into rhythm-based projects. This led to the creation of visual scores. He saw the repetition of signs and symbols as the source of a great deal of inspiration; it gave direction to his search, regardless of the materials in which he worked.
The exhibition’s narrative is built around four thematic sections:
• biological rhythm—this part of the exhibition shows inspirations from the world of organic forms and analyzes the issue of difference in repetition;
• musical rhythm—these are works that are the result of formal efforts to depict the mutual relations between the abstract visual sign as an information bearer and sound;
• the alphabet—this part introduces a key motif in Antoni Starczewski’s work; fascinated by the rhythm of signs and print layouts, he transposed text into abstract compositions, where rhythm, and often its disruption, were the basic elements;
• mise-en-scène (directing)—this section has self-portraits, series of staged photographs and films taken with a camera from the 1960s and 70s; these often recorded seemingly mundane situations, which nonetheless revealed the artist’s complex personality.
The aim of the exhibition is not only to honor Antoni Starczewski, but also to reacquaint viewers with this extraordinary figure and, above all, outstanding artist, who was celebrated around the world, but is presently somewhat forgotten in his hometown of Łódź, where he spent all his professional and private life. Starczewski deserves to be resuscitated in Łódź, but he should also be restored to a place of importance in the history of modern art in Poland and abroad, given how he was appreciated and awarded at (individual and collective) world exhibitions. He received the Grand Prix at the 8th International Biennial of Prints in Tokyo in 1979, the gold medal at the 3rd International Florence Biennial, the gold medal in Faenza, and the Targa d’Oro gold medal at the International Ceramics Competition in Perugia. His work can be seen at the National Museums in Warsaw, Krakow, and Wrocław, the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, the Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź, the Municipal Art Gallery in Łódź, the Polish Sculpture Center in Orońsko, as well as museums and galleries around the world: Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Genève, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Tate Modern, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
93 - 034 Łódź