Konrad Krzyzanowski (1872 – 1922)

Kweiseye is an art criticism blog written by Tom Kwei. If you enjoy this article, browse the archive HERE for more than 60 other critiques of both artists and exhibitions. Any questions/queries/use: tomkweipoet@gmail.com

I’ve no clue of Konrad Kryzanowski’s life beyond the artist’s scant Wikipedia entry. Having discovered him through seeing ‘Girl at Piano’ as a small side image within a book of European Modernism, I set off intrigued to find more. But aside from learning Polish, it seems I’ve reached a biographical dead-end. Which I don’t mind really. Sometimes it’s oddly fulfilling to find an artist, painter or otherwise, that has little to nothing written about them. Kryzanowski then, an obscure expressionist rediscovered by a blogger too obscure to even be called obscure.

‘Chmury’ – 1906


Epic yet homely, comforting yet confrontational, Chmury overwhelms and resonates through its sheer expressionist force. The clouds here aren’t mere white dappling on a skyline, rather Kryzanowski imbues them with a sovereignty and energy all of their own. At the far right the smeared brushstroke cumulus appears not only to leap higher, but also to have taken some of the sky with it, ripping the canvas edge to reveal a foundation brown underneath.Whilst down on the left, a cloud seems to have collided with the ground, trapping itself against the foundation and intermingling with dirt.

The use of colour is tremendous, with the blue sky tide-like in its subtle depth and change. The horizon too is executed masterfully, as pink sunset drifts hover and mingle against the more assured tones of the floor. Through the near mythic shapes above, Kryzyanowski captures that staggering feeling of reverence felt when staring skyward at moving kingdoms of cloud. Indeed, looking at them quickly becomes a reflective experience, one which like in real life, becomes suggestive in of itself of shapes and patterns.

Perhaps in the hollow pocket of the towering left vapour a bird can be seen shilouetted and perched?  Maybe the right clump evokes an eagle of sorts, soaring upward on its wide opened wingspan? Who knows? This is, after all, part of the beauty and enjoyment of painting. The sense that our own interpretation is as individual and cultivated as the faces that we often see high up in the clouds, but that others refuse and contradict.

‘Girl at Piano’ – 1907


Evoked through a subtle stuttering brush, ‘Girl at Piano’, presents a scene as simple as its title. The child herself seems relaxed in repose rather than a player, both her folded hands and absent face realised in the most minute of movements. Similarly to the aforementioned Chmury, a sense of size is conveyed expertly.  A piano is of course a huge instrument, but one that to a child especially conveys a gigantic almost monstrous nature. There is a feeling of abstraction here then, that these two things belong to the same world but exist entirely apart from one another. Both the girl and the piano are ignored, resigned to merely waiting for something to happen.

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