Varnish Fine Art is pleased to present Szukalski, a solo exhibition of works by the forgotten master artist, Stanislav Szukalski. The show includes Szukalski’s bronze sculptures plus never before exhibited 2-D works, including original conté and pen & ink drawings. Hailed as an artistic genius from the age of six and lauded as Poland’s “Greatest Living Artist,” Szukalski lived in relative obscurity and varying levels of poverty after the Siege of Warsaw in 1939 led to the destruction or confiscation of most of his works. He returned to the US and lived a life in service to his artistic passions and belief in the essential nobility of “man” that infused his works until his death in 1987. The show opens with a reception at Varnish Fine Art on Saturday, May 5th, from 5-7pm. Books on the life and works of Stanislav Szukalski are available via the Varnish Fine Art Emporium (online store)
“I put Rodin in one pocket, Michelangelo in the other, and I walk towards the sun.” -- Szukalski
In Szukalski, the artist’s never before seen two-dimensional works are available to the public for the first time as well as his masterful large and small bronze sculptures. Over his lifetime, Szukalski studied other cultures and took a hard look at his own, developing a theory (some say pseudo-science) of the origins and history of modern day civilization called “Zermatism” on which he wrote and illustrated 42 volumes. Szukalski’s unorthodox perspectives and “inconvenient opinions” fused with his technical skills as a sculptor and draughtsman make for beautifully confrontational sculptures and drawings of uncommon passion and thoughtfulness. A review of his 2001 retrospective in the Los Angeles Times noted “As a man and an artist he thrived on bold gestures… his work aspires to the monumental, regardless of the physical scale… “
The late screenwriter Ben Hecht described Szkukalski as “starving, muscular, aristocratic and smoldering with disdain for lesser beings than himself.” This personal confidence and (failure?) to compromise resulted in a “cultural gag order” that would effectively deny him entrée and acceptance into the Art World and ensured his genius not be recognized by any but the most ardent admirers of his strong will and exceptional talents, in spite of his questionable prejudices and ideologies. Varnish Fine Art is proud to be one of the few exhibiting galleries for Stanislav Szukalski.
Stanislav Szukalski (1893-1987) fused the movement and energy of Futurism, the emotion of Impressionism and the geometric configurations of Cubism into a single poetic form referred to as “Bent Classicism.” Szukalski left 1920’s Chicago to return to his native Poland where he was recognized by the Ministry of Art as the country’s “Greatest Living Artist.” The ravages of World War II destroyed much of Szukalski’s artwork, thus laying the groundwork for his fall into obscurity and return to the United States. By the time the artist was rediscovered in southern California in 1972 by publisher Glenn Bray, a large and masterful body of work had been created and many works were later found in post-war Poland. A retrospective of Szukalski’s works was exhibited at the Laguna Art Museum in 2001 under the patronage of Glenn Bray and the DiCaprio Family. A solo show, The Self-Born, was exhibited at Varnish Fine Art in 2005, and his work was featured on the cover of Juxtapoz magazine the same year. His works are on permanent display at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago and the Polish National Museum in Warsaw and are in numerous private collections.