No 1 (65) 2006
January - March

Objects and Signs

Many years ago, in the catalogue of the one-man exhibition by Jan Tarasin at the Warsaw Krzywe Koło (Bent Circle) gallery, Aleksnader Wojciechowski wrote: the “Selfless Objects”, painting objects, for some years now, have kept appearing on the canvases by Jan Tarasin.

Włodzimierz Nowaczyk

Art historian, curator for the Poznań National Museum.

Włodzimierz Nowaczyk

They have been rhythmically placed on the dashingly painted plane. He has been carefully considering where to locate them. Occasionally, he has been rapidly pinning in a vanishing streak, a spot, a line. Most likely, the artist had in mind this type of a spontaneous reaction when writing about the need to “catch the real life red-handed.” These words have rendered a timeless message. They can also be used to describe his present pictures. Jan Tarasin - present on the Polish art scene since the late forties – has shown his latest painting compositions at the Piekary Gallery; several canvases, the oldest from the early mid nineties, the most recent - marked with the two digit in front. They have been selected out of the works that were at the artist’s Warsaw atelier. This show has not been a historic one, as the exhibitions usually held at the Piekary Gallery. This time, the artist who entered the most recent Polish art history, presented pictures painted relatively not a long time ago. An outstanding painter and graphic artist. A member of the Cracow Group, President of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, and first off all – an indefatigable Artist. For many years now, he has been facing great themes that somewhere in the past had determined his creative pursuits. A still life has been one of this eternal topics. One can hardly notice it in his present works but this has been somewhere at the beginning of his path. At present, it has been transformed into a set of spots, signs, forms and lines. The compositions inspired by writing look similar. These are unknown alphabet records, illegible letters, coded pages. The former, certainly, have an object as their point of reference; the latter – a letter/ sign. Others have been inspired by a landscape or the great masters art. All these painting solutions have been accompanied by an extremely sophisticated palette; regardless whether it is monochromatic or strongly expressive. Some canvases have been reduced merely to the black and white, i.e., a famous serious depicting the Dalmatians emerging from the black and white specked background, resembling the spots on the dogs’ bodies. Occasionally, an earlier watercolor, drawing or a photograph serves as a source of inspiration. For some time, Jan Tarasin has been fascinated with photography, using photos to make serigraphy, then composing them into interesting sets that, in turn, form unique, appealing with their charm portfolios. The exhibition, set outside historic ramifications, cannot totally depart from the history. The works originating in our time always resound with bygone experiences. The same has been true this time. For many years now, objects and signs have been filling in the canvases by Jan Tarasin. The most recent artistic search has been accompanied with the nostalgic recollections. An old drawing, recovered after many years, turns into an inspiration for the newly made composition. This has been the case with the Window composition, dated 1975/ 1993. This span of time has been illustrated in the set of works presented at the Piekary Gallery. On one hand – the passed time, on the other – the time found. Contemporary times owe so much to the past. The present respectfully looks back at the former achievements, but also it hopefully looks forward to the unknown, to the canvases that have not been painted yet. Two canvases of the recently started series are this form of heading in the unknown. Extremely spare, reduced to a mere set of lines, astonishing to fans of the art by Jan Tarasin. The latter have been the exhibition closing works. Jan Tarasin, Pictures, the Piekary Gallery, Poznań, November – December 2005.