Kasia Kulczyk presents the first comprehensive exhibition to take place in the UK
of one of Poland's most important living artists, Wojciech Fangor, curated by de Pury de Pury. Bringing together thirty works from private collections from around the world, this exhibition explores Fangor’s work from the 1960s and 1970s and showcases his astonishing Op Art paintings. COLOUR-LIGHT-SPACE will launch a new cultural programme at 3 Grafton Street, a new exhibition space housed in a spectacular Georgian town house in Mayfair which will be open to the public with free admission. Wojciech Fangor has work in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and is the only Polish artist to have been the subject of a solo show at the Guggenheim, New York.
The exhibition COLOUR-LIGHT-SPACE focuses on Fangor’s most ground-breaking period, from his early experiments in colour to his work in the United States, where he became a leading representative of the up-and-coming Op Art movement. Paintings on display feature intensely coloured circles and waves. Simple compositions in striking colour combinations depict light, its spectrum and the chromatic effects of its separation. Working with successive coats of thin oil paint and saturated colour, Fangor creates optical illusions, abstract shapes and the destruction or reinforcement of the two dimensional plane. The visual impact of these striking abstract forms is accentuated by the intentionally hazy transitional zones between the colours.
Simon de Pury says: ‘The first contact with Fangor's work will be a revelation for anyone who is not familiar with it. Fangor's bold use and choice of saturated colors combined with simple shapes and blurred edges are unlike anything that any other artist was doing between the late 1950s and early 1970s. Seen today it has lost none of it's freshness and could actually easily be mistaken for works done now. We are delighted and proud to be able to present the first comprehensive exhibition of Fangor in London.’
Wojciech Fangor was born in Warsaw in 1928. In 1953 Fangor turned to poster art as the only viable alternative to the social realism that then dominated Poland. Through his early work with designers and architects Fangor first became preoccupied by the effective interaction between colour and space. In 1958 his influential exhibition, A Study of Space, saw him install his paintings partly on the walls, but also arranged on free standing easels within the room, in a kind of environmental installation or early whole room experience. During the depths of the Cold War, when artists working behind the iron curtain had no idea what their Western counterparts were doing, Fangor arrived at a highly personal style. By 1956 he was creating stunning two- dimensional works in which colour and form were blurred.
Fangor developed this radical body of work well before similar formulations were taking place in the US and Europe. Two years before Kenneth Noland he painted 'targets' and strikingly coloured simple compositions, which prefigured the Op and Pop art movements of the 1960's and remain resonant today. Fangor’s early work was first discovered by the international art world in 1961, when he featured in 15 Polish Painters, Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1965 his work was shown alongside Bridget Riley and Frank Stella in the seminal Op Art group show The Responsive Eye, at MoMA. This was followed by a solo show at the Guggenheim in 1970. Whereas classical exponents of Op Art like Victor Vasarely or Bridget Riley treated the pictorial surface as the primary vehicle of artistic expression, Fangor considered the actual space surrounding viewers of eminent equal importance.
Despite his important place within twentieth century art history Fangor has recently been overlooked outside Poland; this exhibition aims to re-establish Fangor as a significant figure in the history of contemporary art.
COLOUR-LIGHT-SPACE curated by Simon de Pury is on at 3 Grafton Street, London, W1 until 2 February 2015.