Beginning September 4, 2014, Dominique Lévy gallery will pay tribute to Roman Opalka’s unique art of body and soul with Roman Opalka: Painting ∞. The exhibition provides an overview of Opalka’s career, revealing his œuvre to be a grand metaphor for human existence and a deceptively restrained expression of the artist’s vitality and passion in the face of an unstoppable evaporation. “Time as we live it and as we create it embodies our progressive disappearance,” Opalka wrote in a 1987 essay. “We are at the same time alive and in the face of death — that is the mystery of all living beings.”
Roman Opalka: Painting ∞ will present a key group of paintings (each titled Détails) from 1965 / 1 – ∞, complemented by a selection of the artist’s related Self-Portraits photographs and audio recordings in which Opalka intones, in his native Polish, the numbers he is painting. The exhibition will also present antecedents to 1965 / 1 – ∞. Two rare Chronomespaintings of 1963 will be on view, as will the entire series of Opalka’s ten Etude sur le Mouvement works on paper from 1959-60. These works will be shown together with the Details for the first time in the United States.
The exhibition will remain on view through October 18th and is accompanied by a catalogue featuring a text by curator and art historian Lorand Hegyi, a close friend of the artist; an essay by independent curator and historian Charles Wylie; an original text by French poet Jacques Roubaud; and a conversation between Marie-Madeleine Opalka, the artist’s widow, and François Barré, a close friend, that serves as a narrative chronology.
About the Artist
Roman Opalka was born on August 27, 1931, to Polish émigrés in Hocquincourt, in northern France. The family returned to Poland in 1935, only to be deported to Germany after the Nazi invasion. After being liberated by the United States Army, they returned to Poland, where Roman studied lithography at a graphics school before enrolling in the School of Art and Design in Lodz. He later earned a degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and began experimenting with abstract and monochrome paintings, which he called Chronomes. In 1970 he gave up all other painting but his 1965/1 - ∞ series, begun in 1965.
In 1977 Roman Opalka moved to France, settling at Teillé, near Le Mans. He took French citizenship in 1985, and in 2009 he was named Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and of Letters).
Opalka died in Chieti, Italy, in August 2011.