Friday, August 3, 2012

Gasiorwski XXe Peintre Fou : Maeght

 Here was the teaser painting on the poster that got me to pay 19 euros for photo privileges and entry into The Maeght Foundation last week to see the Gasiorwski Exhibiton.
    It is an interesting self portrait which reminded me of my own "Doughnut Eater " painting below.  I was curious.

                                                                                    m. payne

The exhibition started promisingly with a series of well rendered photo realistic paintings done with unknown tools, maybe a sponge, or brillo pad produce these pointillist style paintings with images taken from the family album.

This one is very creepy with a old person's face......apparently the artist mixed  images together.

and moving up to a quite startling canvas depicting the pubis of the former painting .

This one has interesting volume and shadows done without a brush.

Despite the success of these first hyperrealistic canvases, Gasiorowski starts into "pictorial suicide" by violently criticizing  western traditional painting and the art market.

  He tries ,in effect,"to make painting disappear", to eliminate the frame and the canvas.  "The pictural act is my only problem".  

The next thing we see in this exhibition is another style completely... (Gasiorwski was fascinated by the cave of Lascaux I find out later online.)

I am speechless.  where is this going?

The art world, the galeries , the museums and even the artists, not surprisingly will not forgive him for his bitter critique of art society.  He is totally isolated without offerings of exhibitions. 

 He  withdraws from the world of art but continues to pursue his ideas of the foundations of art and he invents several fictitious scenarios to work from.   First the War of 1975, then AWK his own academy:  Worosiskiga ( anagram for his name)  led by a tyrant....of which emerges 500 hats signed by celebrated artists. 

This is possibly the meaning of these first paintings we see in the hallway upon entering the present exhibition.

Although Gasiorwski continues to unabashedly criticize artists who are trying to enter the system of the art market,  he has one friend in the art world,  Adrien Maeght,  who gives him his first exhibition in 1981. 

 It is not a success but Adrien Maeght organizes others and pushes his "discovery" forward until  in 1983 Le Musee d'art Moderne de Paris gives Gasiorwski a big showing.

  Gasiorwski continues to make up stories and scenarios:  an imaginary tribe of indians called Kiga of Worosis.  Peasants appear in paintings in an homage to Cezanne.  The imagined Kiga, primitive painters , mix excrement and aromatic plants to use in their Cezanne like compositons.  They make cakes of excrement that Gasiorowski uses " like the apples of Cezanne". 

  This is not evident in this exhibition but apparently the "jus" of these "merde" cakes is collected and used for the series called "Jus".    IN addition there are fictional objects, and his quite effective series of flowers (which you can find only on posters and books in the store at the Maeght.) and do not make up part of this exhibiton. 

  It would have been helpful to have some of this history while viewing the present exhibition as all of this information I found on French websites and does make the show slightly more comprehensible. 

After the 1983 event, the "artist"  starts the huge  dung colored canvases that are unrolled and displayed in this exhibition. There is often the image of  " a line" the "fil d'Ariane", sometimes in gold leaf which stands out from the muddy colors being used.  He borrows from images again from Lascaux to Manet as if he wants" to rejoin the territory of the painter "???.

 This is the most cheerful wall of the present exhibition....for those of us that appreciate color.

A few paces away we see this comment on war...the "great medals" being obliterated by black paint on glass.  Easily digestible statement but a relief to me amongst all of the other incomprehensible and uninspiring offerings.
 A Gioccometti like image without explanation.  I could not comprehend the titles.

 Now this one was the only one in the exhibition that I could understand really by the title.  There are some faint letters under the gold leaf line that refer to the Title: Commander  This is another comment on war, possibly Gasiorwski"s ficticious war.

 Here starts the enormous canvases unrolled and flung on the wall for the remainder of the displays.

 Part of the same canvas...

Yeah, Yeah, yeah....


I could easily change the saturation and make this into a great photo, but then it would not represent the real canvas.

This one however, shows better....

I want OUT of Here.....

Below are the series of whimsical flowers in pots that are by the same artist.  Obviously he has a different idea that he is trying to portray and one that is much more easily assimilated .    It is not surprising that on the brochures of this exhibition and even in the timeline, a liberal use of his colored paintings are shown, although almost none of them are in the main exhibition.   If we are meant to feel his angst ,.... we do.  

Posters offered in the book store...not seen in the exposition.

This  landscape by  Gasiorwski graces the stairs in the gallery.   It's hard to believe it is the same artist...a man who has some talent but who is at odds with the classical ideas of painting: harmony and beauty.

 He wanted to reinvent painting and for a moment in time he did.... by failing to paint. .... but I have met a thousand artists in my twenty years of painting.  They all have moments of inspiration and fallow , or angry periods.    They are all seekers, like Gasiorwski.

But they don"t have an Adrian Maeght in their corner.


  1. Gerard Gasiorowski, who died in 1986 at age 56, was surely singular in his work. Your critique is made clearer by the photos. We intend to see the exhibition to get a close-up, more visceral exposure. Some look quite good, others not so.

    Bruce B.

  2. First off, thanks for the quality images. I really loved the exhibit, personally, and was happy to have been transported back, if selectively. I found the exhibit to be deeply immersive on many levels; not only does one very succinctly access his personal journey, his intellectual development as he grapples with the authority of the Academy as many have done before him, but his work seems designed *to be readable*. The scale of "Stances", the full-room work, is scaled such that the viewer has a deeply physical and intimate engagement with the narrative the work creates. Looking at the lovely photograph of one frame (image 4158), the walking figure is placed, if not in time with the vigor of the action conveyed in Gasiorowski's all-consuming brushwork, in time with the viewer -

    I wish there was more American or English Scholarship on this amazing artist!