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#134: Zenon Henryk Rachwalski (1932-1987) — Malwy


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Zenon Henryk Rachwalski (1932-1987) - painter, belonging to the figurative movement. He was born on May 4, 1932 in Chyrów near Przemyśl. In the years 1946-1949 he attended the Junior High School. Słowacki in Przemyśl, where he discovered his interest in painting. The artistic atmosphere of the city meant that he immediately met an outstanding teacher. It was Marian Stroński, the creator of the School of Painting and Drawing, who influenced Rachwalski's work more deeply than the university. In the years 1951-1955, Rachwalski studied easel painting in the studio of Jerzy Fedkowicz and wall painting in the studio of Wacław Taranczewski at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He was a co-founder of the "Group he taught painting and drawing at the Art Center, in 1960-62 at Primary School No. 14, and in 1962-64 at the Basic Vocational School at the Technical Secondary School of Economics in Opole. At the same time, from 1960, he taught art classes at the Youth Cultural Center. In 1965 he joined the Opole District of ZPAP, taking an active part in its initiatives: he participated in most environmental exhibitions and competitions, he acted as a co-organizer of open-air painting events in Paczków, Glogówek, on Góra św. Anna. In 1978, he finished 20 years of teaching work, resigning from classes at MDK. From then on, he made a living solely from artistic work, participating intensively in Opole and nationwide artistic life, taking part in numerous group exhibitions, and also had many individual exhibitions. He won numerous awards and distinctions. It was a period of the most intense work, the highest artistic achievements and constantly growing popularity. Starting from 1985, he participated in the work of the Opole Branch of ZPAMiG. He died on June 9, 1987 in Opole. He was buried in accordance with his wishes, in the family tomb in Przemyśl, at the Zasany cemetery.

The motif of Henryk Rachwalski's work was old age, although it is a period seemingly exploited by science, literature and art, when a person, having crossed the threshold of life experience, can only wait for death. The painter from Opole was able to convey the appearance of this existence, the moment when tragedy and ridiculousness constitute an inseparable whole. Rachwalski showed the ambiguity of old age: the period when a person becomes distinguished and childish at the same time, full of seriousness and absurd vitality, experience and hypocritical fanaticism, which effectively protects him against emptiness. The characters in his paintings have something of Gogol and Becket at the same time. He painted on large formats. Man remained the main subject of his painting. Even in landscapes, in desolate landscapes sketched with a delicate, nervous line that seems to tremble and wave, his presence is felt. This is an art so complex and multi-layered that it cannot be considered only in purely formal categories. The wealth of values and meanings is obvious even at a cursory glance, but this painting cannot be accused of being excessively literary. The diversity of his forms and means of expression is striking: huge canvases with refined colors, painted with panache and incredible speed, and at the same time extraordinary brightness and clarity, in which there is no room for even a single unnecessary effect. This apparent ease of creation is largely misleading, because each work is a deepening (and not a duplication) of motifs constantly present in art. The most interesting in Rachwalski's work are his extensive figural compositions. The "Old People's Home" series, presented in various versions and painted many times over the last few years, has something of a theater and a dramatic epic narrative in it. The action takes place in a void, in darkness, where it is impossible to sense the existence of any specific space. The characters are chained to the most ordinary equipment. : a chair, an old-fashioned armchair or a bed. Each of these objects limits a person and immobilizes him. Henryk Rachwalski, like Francis Bacon, screams at us from his dream paintings. His works are full of dramatic expression and alienation in an undefined space. Rachwalski's paintings attract attention with their colors. .The canvases are painted in a decidedly cold or warm color range, with a particular predilection for warm browns and off-reds. The compositions are built of large spots intensely saturated with color. Against this background, the outlines of figures and objects, often surrounded by a bright line full of refractions, seem to phosphorescent. It is rare to see compositions so mature in form, in which, despite their richness, there are no unnecessary elements. Henryk Rachwalski is a rare individual in our painting. He created his art in areas that seemed to have been exploited for a long time, where it is extremely difficult to expect anything new. The way he treats the subject of man gives him the character of a playwright as much as a painter. His paintings create an image of a modern man, which today's art (so sensitive to formal experiments) has been able to forget.

Picture description

A monumental painting on a standing rectangular plan, depicting a still life. It comes from the first half of 1977. This painting is part of a larger series, as evidenced by the author's title "Malwa III". Rachwalski often painted paintings in larger "cycles", and marked subsequent works with Roman numerals. In the foreground, the artist showed two bottles filled with bouquets of hollyhocks. Although Zenon Henryk Rachwalski is known mainly for figural compositions, his work also included landscapes and still lifes, an example of which is this painting. This canvas is a refined study of the color range. The hollyhocks were painted with warm, intense browns and off-reds, while the bottles were painted with shades of pink. The background is cold colors. The colors, painting manner and the way of building compositions with large spots are characteristic of Rachwalski's work, which makes this painting impossible to confuse with the work of any other artist. Although the subject seems to be seemingly trivial and worn out, the painter's approach to this topic is completely individual and innovative. Although formally it is a still life, thanks to the use of certain means of expression, great expression and drama, the composition seems to be dynamic. Horror, mystery, multi-layeredness and hidden meanings emerge from the performance - such as transience (flowers take the shape of a candle). The passing of time is inextricably linked to Rachwalski's work, but also to our lives. This is a painting from his best and mature period, which highlights the great genius and artistic sensitivity of this painter.

Parameters and state of preservation

Oil on canvas, large format, dimensions: 80x100 cm. Dimensions including frame: 94.5 x 115 cm. Signed under the name H. Rachwalski. On the back there is an inscription on the canvas: "AUTHOR Z. HENRYK RACHWALSKI, OIL YEAR 1977, SIZE 80X100, VALUE PLN 25,000, MALWY III /OPOLE/". The painting is framed in a light wooden frame. The picture and frame are in perfect condition. The painting is ready to hang.



Dimensions: 80x100 cm

Signature: Signed under the name H. Rachwalski

Support material: Oil on canvas

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