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"Rebellion – Expressionism – Transborder Avant-Garde. Works from the Berlin Collection of Prof. St. Karol Kubicki"

The exhibition: “Rebellion – Expressionism – Transborder Avant-Garde. Works from the Berlin Collection of Prof. St. Karol Kubicki” was possible thanks to the significant collection of artworks donated to Polish museums, including the Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz, by Professor Stanisław Karol Kubicki, son of the artists Margarete and Stanisław Kubicki. The exhibition is part of a larger project whose editions have also been held at the Poznań National Museum, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski Museum in Dresden and the “Roman House” Lower Silesian Photography Centre in Wrocław.Coordinated by the organizers: Dr. Lidia Głuchowska and the Centre for Culture and Art in Wrocław, the project was included in the Companion Programme of the International Print Triennial – Kraków 2015 and is carried out under the patronage of the Society.

The primary focus of the exhibition at the Bydgoszcz Museum will be a set of approximately 90 expressionist prints and drawings created by members of the “Bunt” (Rebellion) artistic and literary group active in Poznań in the years 1918–1920. The group was founded by artists associated with the “Zdrój” magazine (established a year earlier), including Margarete and Stanisław Kubicki, Jerzy Hulewicz, Jan Panieński, Władysław Skotarek, Stefan Szmaj, Artur Swinarski, Jan Wroniecki and the sculptor August Zamoyski. Although it only existed for two years, “Bunt” was unique among the artistic groups active in Poland at the time due to its highly modern style inspired by international tendencies and transgressing provincialism. Frequent trips to Berlin enabled the artists to establish cooperation with the expressionist periodicals “Die Aktion” and “Der Sturm”. The German avant-garde movements were the primary sources of inspiration for the Poznań group. The artists' main goal was to express the absolute freedom and independence of the creator. Their art was meant primarily to stir emotions and deeply hidden feelings and experiences, which is why it often alluded to primitive art, the earliest outlet for human expression. This category included not only folk art, but also medieval and tribal (e.g. African) works. Thus, formal solutions were equally likely to be derived from Tatra regional glass paintings as from medieval woodcuts, while the mysticism of the Middle Ages became a source of inspiration and symbolism. The members of “Bunt” used religious motifs as a tool to convey universal and timeless moral and social messages. Moreover, the motifs were related to the messianic vision of independence constantly present in Polish art since the Romantic period. In terms of form, however, the artists abandoned traditional realism in favour of appealing to the viewer through highly simplified, almost abstract geometric forms conveying complex emotional meanings. The composition was usually synthetic, with intense colour contrasts usually achieved through the combination of black and white. With such effects in mind, the artists typically used different printing (linocut, woodcut) and drawing techniques, although they also expressed themselves through painting and sculpture (August Zamoyski).

Among the artworks donated by Professor Kubicki to the Bydgoszcz Museum is one of the famous self-portraits of Stefan Szmaj. This artist, who was also a doctor, lived in Bydgoszcz in the years 1929–1936, where he ran his ophthalmology office and actively participated in local cultural life. He was the initiator of many artistic ventures as well as the centre of significant scandals causing a stir in the Bydgoszcz community. The exhibition at the Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz will provide an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about the colourful personalities of Stefan Szmaj and his friends who helped to build “Bunt”, the legend of Polish avant-garde art.


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Designed: Jimpenny / Programmed: FreshData