Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism. Beksiński did his paintings and drawings in what he called either a ‘Baroque’ or a ‘Gothic’ manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of “utopian realism” and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism.
I always find myself returning to Beksiński for inspiration. He’s a cornerstone of contemporary fantastic art, dark surrealism, or “horror art”– depending upon who is describing the work.
Regardless of the descriptors:
- Beksiński’s surrealist vision that rivals the greats in art history.
- Beksiński’s work is transcendent.
Elegance in Each Image
His images are elegant: while there are many details in the images, there tends to only be one central focus and then distant secondary or tertiary focal points. A contrast would be “The Garden of Earthly delights” by Hieronymus Bosch or “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke” by Richard Dadd– where much of the painting demands attention.
But a hierarchy of content certainly isn’t what I’m referring to when I’m speaking of a purity of vision in Beksiński’s work. Both of those just mentioned certainly have a purity of vision. Rather, his entire body of work has a purity of vision, as do the individual paintings. The work’s main salient feature is dystopian surrealism, or doomsday scenarios. The central focus of the fantastic period is indeed an apocalyptic emotion, but his abstract work seems also marked by this sensation. While it’s not as dark directly, his abstract work always seems to be deconstructing the form like a sickness or decay.
His works don’t compete with each other ideologically, but reinforce each other. But even his digital work (not shown in the gallery) was a clumsy attempt at using the computer as his paintbrush to illustrate the same visions that he does so exquisitely in oils.
Beksiński’s Work is Transcendent
Beksiński’s art seems to transcend the work itself. Beksiński’s paintings always seem larger than they are. This is partially what I mean that they transcend. Also, they aren’t marked by any period-specific features. The viewer can never look at the content and claim it belongs from a specific time. “Aha, this was a reaction to the labor movement in the 1960’s.” Beksiński’s work sits outside of time. Each image creates a complete, visually satisfying world. Dystopian eye candy.
I believe that art criticism will eventually come to celebrate Beksiński as one of the great artists of the 20th century.
Beksiński avoided concrete analyses of the content of his work, saying “I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting”. He was especially dismissive of those who sought or offered simple answers to what his work ‘meant’.