On August 2, the exhibition “Journey to the Universe” starts in Warsaw, featuring the extremely popular and appreciated works of Jan Dobkowski, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. The phenomenon still inspires and is an excellent source of knowledge about transferring world art trends to the home soil. The artist, without whom Polish pop art is difficult to imagine, is most famous for his red-green cycle, which will be on display in the August exhibition at the DESA Unicum headquarters. The painting “Double Girl”, with which it began, was acquired in 1968 by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which enhanced the international fame of the Polish avant-garde artist. Contemporary art lovers can also see paintings from Dobkowski’s other major painting cycles: Beyond Infinity, Pamukale, Himalayas, Australian Dream of Ocean. The exhibition, which will show nearly thirty paintings by the jubilee, will last until 24 August.

Jan Dobkowski, one of the most original personalities in Polish contemporary art, is a careful observer and bon vivant. Without its bold color combinations, duplication of erotic shapes and threads, there would certainly be no Polish variety of pop art. The artist, born 80 years ago, is an innovator on a global scale, as evidenced by his successes both at the São Paulo Biennale and in New York. To this day, he is considered a pioneer whose work is a fascinating trace of hippie visual culture. While still a student, the young and rebellious artist challenged all known painting trends along with Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zieliński who created the “Neo-Neo-Neo” formation. Dobkowski has retained the originality, distinctiveness and his own artistic language in his work. It is a phenomenon that eludes unequivocal classifications or comparisons, which is certainly apparent from the prepared exhibition – says Anna Gray, exhibition coordinator.

There has never been such a broad and transversal exhibition of the works of Jan Dobkowski. DESA Unicum presents nearly thirty paintings from the artist’s most important series of paintings, an excellent opportunity to look at his inspirations and directions in which he continues his quest for painting to this day. The exhibition includes both early works, including the early 1960s canvas “Duplicate Model”, as well as works from the latest series “Color and space algorithm”. There will also be red-green canvases, characteristic of Dobkowski, painted at a uniform size of 200 x 150 cm. The silhouettes of male and female bodies presented there – intertwined, organically connected and pervading in fanciful arrangements – have become the hallmark of the artist’s work. The intense green of the works symbolizes the lush nature, the vibrant vitality and the abundance of life from which Dobkowski drew. Interestingly, biology was previously inspired by his works, as illustrated by the 1968 painting “Tape” presented at the exhibition.

Dobkowski’s work has long attracted the attention of art lovers, but in recent years he has experienced a real renaissance in popularity. This painting, despite its diversity and changeability, has been developing the same theme for decades: the balance of nature combined with human thinking and intuition. The thought symbolized by the line motif that unites this art. The search for balance and harmony between man and nature is an extremely topical subject these days – says Iza Rusiniak, board member of Desa Unicum.

The works in which Dobkowski refers to spatial forms of Plexiglas are also very effective. These multicolored canvases, such as “My Figures” or “The Ravine”, painted with broad, uniform spots without changing the tone, differ from later compositions. The evolution of Dobkowski’s work is shown in works from the second half of the 1970s, in which human figures and erotic situations are replaced by a network of intricately confused, thin lines that fill the surface of the painting. The interesting composition “Against the Wind”, as well as paintings from the series “Treny” and “Landscape of Space” come from this period. A separate part of Dobkowski’s work consists of works inspired by his numerous travels. Starting with a scholarship to the United States in 1972, through visits to Australia and India, Dobkowski became fascinated by foreign cultures, nature and rituals.

Włodzimierz Tiunin, his high school teacher, instilled in Dobkowski a passion for art. In the years 1962-68, the artist studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw under the supervision of Juliusz Studnicki and then went to the studio of Jan Cybis. While still a student, the painter gradually began to reduce the colors and focus on standardizing the content. He found a common painting language with Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zieliński, whom he met during that time. In 1967, young artists founded the “Neo-Neo-Neo” formation, which became famous thanks to an exhibition at the Medic’s Club in Warsaw. In the manifesto of their art they wrote: “The name ‘neo-neo-neo’ means to emphasize the difference as much as possible: we want to avoid being matched with what is already there. We are ‘the newest’ and we say it by the word prefix ‘neo’ which is repeated three times to prove that it is a name which does not refer to a direction, style, train of thought etc. that has already appeared before us, it’s an autonomous name.”

Jan Dobkowski is a laureate of many prestigious awards, including. Critics Awards Cyprian Kamil Norwid of the Jan Cybis for lifetime achievement. In 2012, the artist received the Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.

The exhibition is available to visitors at the DESA Unicum headquarters at ul. Piekna 1A on August 2-24, Monday to Friday, 11-19, Saturday 11-16. Admission to the exhibition is free.

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