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The exhibition The Country of Our Imagination … A Display of Paintings and Drawings by Teofil Ociepka on the 125th Anniversary of Artist’s Birth

The exhibition The Country of Our Imagination … A Display of Paintings and Drawings by Teofil Ociepka on the 125th Anniversary of Artist’s Birth

Author: Maria Flinik-Huryn
Location of the exhibition: Granaries – 7-11 Grodzka Street
Exhibition opens till: 2016-07-31

The exhibition The Country of Our Imagination … A Display of Paintings and Drawings by Teofil Ociepka on the 125th Anniversary of Artist’s Birth, presents Teofil Ociepka, one of Poland’s most interesting, next to Nikifor, naïve artists of the 20th century. It is the first retrospective exhibition of this exceptional painter in the Bydgoszcz Museum, and only second (after 45 years) in our city.
Teofil Ociepka (1891-1978) was born in Janów, which these days is one of the districts of Katowice. He was born in a mining family. He graduated from an elementary school, which in the German education system was established for the native residents of Upper Silesia. When he turned eighteen, he started helping his mother in supporting his family; he worked a number of jobs, including town messenger, helper in an inn, postal worker, and railman; finally, he became an engine driver operating a turbine in the power plant of the “Wieczorek” Coalmine. He held this job until his retirement in 1958. During World War I, when he served in the Imperial German Army, he fought at several fronts, in Romania, Belgium, France, Hungary, and Latvia. After the war, he returned to his native Janów. In 1946, he established an art group in the local civic center, which associated amateur artists, called the Janów Group. He was reading a lot starting from his early years. In books, he looked for the universal truth, a uniform system of religious beliefs. He was
interested in Silesian fairy tales and legends, occultism, theosophy, alchemy, astrology, telepathy, clairvoyance, sorcery, and hypnosis. He was an amateur artist, learning painting technique on his own. Throughout his artistic career he made about 200 paintings. The works of Teofil Ociepka feature intertwining components from the lives of miners, Silesian fairy tales, legends, occult literature and dreams; they can be distinguished by very crowded compositions, bright and rich colors, and smooth surface. The artist enjoyed painting a world of fantastic jungles, ferns, birds and wild animals. One of his topics, shown on many artworks, was the battle between Good and Evil. In 1959, he married
Julia Ufnal; he cut his ties with friends and occultism, left the Janów Group and moved for good to Bydgoszcz, where he spent the last decade of his life. In 1976, he was awarded with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. He died at the age of 87, on January 15, 1978. He is buried in the municipal cemetery on Lotników Street in Bydgoszcz. His artworks are in private collections and museums in Poland and abroad.

The exhibition The Country of Our Imagination … consists of 38 paintings, 12 drawings, 6 letters written by the artist and blackand- white photographs taken by Anna Chojnacka in 1960-1962. From them, we learn not only what Teofil Ociepka looked like, but also about his surrounding, in which he lived and worked. The Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz has five paintings made by Teofil Ociepka in its collection. The remaining artworks were loaned from the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, the Museum of the History of Katowice, the Silesian Museum and Silesian Library in Katowice, the Municipal Museum in Zabrze, the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom, the Jacek Malczewski Museum in Radom, the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum, the D’Art Naif Gallery in Cracow, the Barwy Śląska Gallery in
Ruda Śląska, and private collections. We present fifty artworks – paintings and drawings - in a chronological order, illustrating 41 years of the artist’s work. The oldest drawing dates from 1935 (Unemployment in Silesia). The most recent works include a painting made in 1975 (Friendship in Space) and three drawings made in 1976 (Fantastic Drawing I, II, III). The displayed paintings and drawings illustrate several thematic groups in which the artist was involved. They include metaphysical artworks, telling about the mystery of existence and searching for the truth; paintings inspired by events mentioned in the Bible; compositions depicting the world of Silesian fairy tales and legends, and topics related to the reality of life in Silesia; works of art showing an imagined life on Saturn; artworks showing a mysterious jungle; images based on personal feelings of the artist, and commissioned art. The letters of Teofil Ociepka (to physician and community activist Adam Wisz and director Tadeusz Makarczyński) displayed at the exhibition come from the collection of the Silesian Museum and Silesian Library in Katowice. They contain description
of daily matters and regard the painting work of the artist. The monitor that is part of the exhibition displays a film, made in 1961 by the Documentary and Feature Film Studios in Warsaw, directed by Tadeusz Makarczyński, showing the life and work of the artist, entitled A Meeting with Teofil Ociepka. It features a film animation, inspired by paintings by Teofil Ociepka, made by Karolina Suchodolska.
The exhibition is open until July 31 of this year.


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