No 4 (88) 2011
October - December

The Artist of Proven Criteria

Adam Styka belongs to the generation - brought up to believe in vanguard ideals - who have never recognized post modernistic vies. Thus, his art has preserved the characteristics that are dying in younger generation.

Bożena Kowalska

PhD, art critic and theoretician. An author of twenty books on contemporary art.

Bożena Kowalska

The properties highly appreciated lately: persistence in following once chosen path of artistic search, original approach distinguishing a given artist from all others, and respect for beauty factor.

Styka selected his creative road early, during his studies. This choice, without any ambiguities, connected him with the 60's vanguard. He took part in nearly all then important artistic life events, thus contributing to its development. In 1966, after graduating from the Academy, he participated in the Symposium of Fine Artists and Academics, named "Art in the Changing World", and in the years to follow - in the Koszalin plein-air workshop in Osieki, the "Golden Grape" Symposium in Zielona Góra and "Wrocław 70" Symposium.

In Puławy, the artist started in 1972 a series of metal relieves entitled "Stimulators" that earned him general recognition. The "Stimulators" have been constructed out of metal forms running parallel along a metal surface. Unfriendly severity of the rhythm has been occasionally softened by an oval or round form; being either a result of a bow shaped line of slat endings, or more frequently - it has been cut out in metal sheet and imposed over their structure. In spite of hard angularity and the coldness of the material used, the "Stimulators" by Styka offered musical harmony, if not a lyrical timbre.

In those 60's, the artist was mainly interested in space, movement and light. All these have been expressed in the "Stimulators", a large size project made during the mentioned artistic events, and in the 1968 installation presented in three rooms of the "Mona Lisa Gallery". The first one was occupied by solid metal relieves, the second housed kinetic objects, the third room was darkened and filled in with simple, repetitive large size elements lit by three sources of light corresponding to Mondrian color triad: red, yellow and blue.

In the early 70's, due to shortage of materials, the artist had to give up working in metal and switch to painting. Nevertheless, the pursuit of once chosen artistic current remained the artist's merit.

Subsequent trends, coming from Western Europe, remained outside his atelier. None of these forms of artistic expression appealed to Styka, and he was never involved in one. Admittedly, in1976 he shortly flirted with representative painting but it had nothing in common with any outside influence. In 1979 he returned to geometric abstraction, and ever since have remained true to it.

From then on the artist has been preoccupied with painting. The latter revealed, much stronger than his metal relieves, yet another feature - besides persistence - of the artist's work and personality, namely the struggle between emotional side - expressed by means of the form and palette, and an aspiration for order. In the 80's, the moment of expression was reflected in color and a characteristic gesture - developed by the artist - of two or three paint brush strokes crossing. This has been his trademark. Thus, his pictures offered disturbing, shimmering vibrations and depth.

The 80's saw the painting area geometric division - with a dark spot or a light line running through the center at the one third or one fourth of the picture height - into rectangles, squares or circles written into the composition. This has been a contrast to the expressive space vibration, a deliberate and effective introduction of order. This process has been growing stronger. In the 90's, the described signs - so far typical of the work by the artist - have been gradually replaced with parallel traces of paint brush strokes.

Adam Styka reached the height of his painting in the latest decade. Individual features of his output that were always easily recognizable, gained new quality and power. This has been achieved through sustained aspiration for reduction and synthesis. Paint brush strokes have been transformed into regular forms of little bricks to develop a logical, convincing whole. One watches his works with satisfying reassurance and balance sensing the mystery hidden behind the walls, inside the deep space of his symmetrical, monumental, virtual constructions.

Adam Styka, Painting, the Academy Salon, Warsaw, September 2011.