No 4 (84) 2010
October - December

Finding the Matter of Light

The output by Stefan Gierowski brings viewers closer to the fathomless area of spiritual experiences, deep reflections on the world, introduces into an extraordinary space saturated with a sophisticated palette, and inner metaphysical light.

Malwina Domagała

Historian and art critic. PhD student at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Malwina Domagała

THIS YEAR THE ARTIST OF THE ARSENAL GENERATION - one of the most outstanding Polish painters and pedagogues, long time Professor at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts considered a remarkable classic of the Polish modernity - will turn eighty.

The painting by Gierowski has been marked by many years effort to find a metaphysical sense in art. His artistic path has led from figuration, through abstract compositions and informel, to painted with the bravado color sections applied in zones with delicate paintbrush strokes, strongly colored spots that melt on the canvas surface in the space permeated with light, giving an impression of elusive expression.

The breakthrough took place in 1957, when the artist evolved from figuration to the abstract art. From then on, Gierowski has made color compositions entitled Pictures, marked with Roman numbers. These works indicate the picture formula that has been intentionally deprived of all other contents except for pure painting oriented search for the matter of light; the light that according to the artist: "(...) is the content of painting, it determines its uniqueness and mystery of great masters technique. Further, the light carries a symbolic meaning, accompanying humankind since the dawn of time. Light means goodness and life. There is something disturbing in this imperceptible border between the physical and spiritual light"1). A creative process runs from the representation of a selected notion, non material idea, thought, experience, emotion through an attempt to render these on a two dimensional canvas space. This is an aspiration to show a sharp observation of nature, phenomena, things, events, resulting from the fascination with the immaterial; with a shape, structure, hue. However, it is fundamental to introduce light, a mysterious source of energy filling from inside the canvas space.

In search for the transcendent experience, the artist has developed his own concept of a picture, a perfect formula to register the matter, light, movement and space which - transposed onto the picture plane - become dominant components of the painting world.

In 1957 the stylistic formula, proposed by the artist, was defined by Aleksander Wojciechowski, an art critic, an "autonomous abstraction", "(...) involving a free game of light and irregular spots, melodious sets of hieroglyphic signs blended into a dancing matter of a picture"2). The perceptible fascination with the problem of light, space and movement have become a permanent feature of the output by Gierowski. Subsequent Pictures illustrate the further search for the autonomous creative concept, an unlimited idea of abstract painting, the absolute essence of existence, an independent artifact. Originally, the canvas composition has been organized and determined by the painting matter, textural effects achieved by multiple layers of paint that created a relief like structure of pictures. The focus on light and palette has led to multicolored compositions saturated with red, scarlet, dark greens and blues, and subdued violets which appear to radiate from inside the picture.

The force of color, emanating the inner light, has been the strongest means of expression of the painting by Stefan Gierowski; manifesting his unlimited creative power. Large size canvases, versatile palettes combining warm and cool; light and dark, bright and monochromatic hues engage viewers' sense. Formal techniques applied by the artist serve to present metaphysical reality, a personal, intimate dialogue between viewers and pictures, provoking a question about the place of man in the Universe.

1)Gierowski and a Curved Circle, Art Museum, Łódź 2003, p.20
2)J. Stajuda, Painting i.e. Painting, "The Literary Monthly", 1968 no.2 p. 35.

Stefan Gierowski, "Quality, Light, Saturation", the Attack Gallery, Warsaw, September - November 2010.