“Every true work of art is conceived in a hallowed hour and born in a happy one, from the impulse in the artist’s heart, often without the artist being aware of it”. In these words Caspar David Friedrich, the finest painter of the Romantic period, embraced the core of art. Has anything changed since then? Are the words of the XIX century artist still up-to-date? Together with Łukasz Patelczyk we are going to try to answer the question during his latest exhibition of “Constellations” in Sandhofer Gallery.
Romantic painters closely related to the philosophy of idealism. Their landscape compositions rendered the inner life of man through picturing the states of nature. Peace, space, calmness allude to dignity and grandness of the human soul, enticing the spectator’s contemplation. Nature embodies here the extra sensual symbol of transcendent origin. The works of Łukasz Patelczyk are not solely the representations of nature explicating romantic depth. They are also the titled “Constellations”, which add up both the proper dimension to his works and the style recognisable on the art market.
Advancing through the artistic realm of Patelczyk’s vision, we first notice the clash between the foreground and background, the plain division causing disharmony in the spectator’s perception. One can feel suspense in these compositions – why the artist aimed at the disharmony though, is clearly worth giving a thought. For this reason let us see through the construction of the works and their influence on our apprehension.
The background of the artist’s works is usually a landscape, particularly the favoured nocturne. It is depicted realistically, almost academically, texturally rich, with clear sources of light and shadow. Simultaneously, the applied colour scheme is rather limited and enclosed in a monochromatic palette – arrays of blacks, dark blue shades and browns, with gentle, played-down overtones. Despite applying the nature theme, the background evokes the feeling of disturbance, which is exceptionally plain to see in the painting of ”Gate”. We have a feeling of “the lull before a storm”, the sea is about to get rough, and the wind will cause a storm. The author’s inclination towards gloomy, mysterious and disturbing scenes, which tend to evoke either terror or curiosity, adds some apparent statics to the landscape composition.
The composition of foreground, so characteristic of the artist’s work, is usually a geometric figure, section, irregular colour patch of even, mostly white colour scheme. It might be a line broken at parts, made-up figures, sometimes an irregular shape symbolically rendering the subject matter (e.g. a white patch against white forest, implying a ghost in the work of “Ghost”).This characteristic either geometric or irregular sign, called a “constellation” by the artist himself, connotes and reflects the title of some works (e.g. “Predatory Plant”). It clearly implies that it is the foreground that dominates the presentation, and gives the essential clue to understanding the background. It almost covers, as if controls, the painted landscape. Otherwise, as in ”The Tatras and their Dangers”, it is the very background that entices the title of the painting. Also, some mathematic inquiry appears to be visible in the composition of a presentation. The lines of the “constellations” deliberately cross or interconnect – as perfectly exemplified in the painting of “Silence”, further revealing the passion for the sky not only seen from the earth but also in a faraway, cosmic perspective.
The merge of geometric figures and the realistic background seem both original and unreal. The juxtaposition of the two grounds is difficult to decipher. The author leaves the scope for the spectator’s free interpretation. In the “Dark Night” the background is made up of trees set against cloudy, night sky. The puzzling aspect of the composition is the foreground – the replication of some white, merging geometric figures, resembling irregular, oblong triangles. They might imply the upcoming storm or thick herds of birds which fly low above the ground before the thunder drawing in.
The suspense, apart from the colour, theme or textural contrast on the border of two grounds, enlarges the size of canvas as well. The majority of the horizontally planned works presented on the exhibition are over one metre wide. Their meaning, depth and all their intricacies can mainly be observed from a greater distance – then the whole composition opens up in front of the spectator on a grand scale.
Patelczyk’s painting is highly consistent in its form, although the works presented on the exhibition originated throughout the period of several years and they represent various cycles of the artist. Realism blends with abstraction in each of them. A strange identity bursts into the natural landscape, as if a “constellation” created with the human touch. They all do have one thing in common though – Friedrich’s ”inner impulse of the heart”.