Jan. 20, 2021


Jarosław Modzelewski's work painted during a trip to Bulgaria is one of the earliest canvases cataloged by the authors of the famous publication collecting the artist's works, published by the Zderzak Gallery. The student years, as well as the period immediately after defending his diploma, significantly influenced the shaping of the artist's individual style, which was extremely consistent for many years of Modzelewski's artistic activity.


"Wyrszec" is a painting made in 1979, a year before defending his diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. At that time, the artist explained, there were many opportunities for foreign travel, but only to the east. About the second trip (right after his trip to Moscow), he said: "I got the opportunity to go to the plein-air organized by the Academy in Sofia. Every year, one of us went there. It was in 1979 and lasted a whole month. It was there that the pictures with twisted figures were created. (...) Beautiful surroundings - mountains a bit like our Sudetes. Because it was just in autumn, the beech forests were all red and yellow. I used to go where my eyes could see, randomly - a very strong experience (...) Bulgaria was a very strong iconographic experience of realism, figuration for me. I drew a lot there, I sketched - ordinary villages, with people, with donkeys. A world that is difficult to reach on a daily basis. I remember whole meadows covered with wintering trees, something fantastic "(Piotr Bazylko, Krzysztof Masiewicz, Jarosław Modzelewski. Interview-river-Wisła, Warsaw 2013, pp. 56-57).

The contact with the Bulgarian reality influenced, in addition to choosing a new way of imaging, the choice of the topic of the diploma thesis: "I made the decision about the subject of my diploma - Towards a Man - during a trip to Bulgaria. There I got involved in figurative painting, something I had never done before. Earlier, I had ideas, let's call them, phantasmagorical, but in Bulgaria I got a purely figurative kick. This was when the experience of figuration and icon melted (...) It was a spa town of Wyrszec, but maybe a bit of a lower category. There were many turbulent Bulgarians there. "Helpers, men in jackets and berets and fat women. They walked the streets and waited for the waters to open. When the sun came out from behind the mountains, the promenade was very illuminated and the sun built unusually sharp shadows. Many of these people were very twisted, shrunken, with walking sticks." - It made a hell of an impression on me. So I was walking along this promenade, watching and then I returned to my studio and painted. We were there with students from the Bulgarian academy and these Bulgarian friends were knocking their heads - they did not understand why I was doing this, it was not interesting for them at all. But I got into it terribly. Unfortunately, most of these pictures stayed there "(op. Cit., Pp. 66-67).

It would seem that the above issue is almost an exact description of the work "Wyrszec", presented in the offer of the upcoming Art Outlet Contemporary Art auction. The composition of the work was built of strong light contrasts, reflecting the said Bulgarian sun. The protagonist of the performance was probably one of the residents who caught the eye of the young painter. Bulgaria also brought the artist's focus on presenting scenes from the surrounding reality - a topic that is developed in Modzelewski's painting to this day. Since, as the artist said, most of the works from this period remained abroad, early Bulgarian paintings are extremely rare objects on the auction market.