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Cracow. Unknown sculptures by Zdzisław Beksiński at Wawel. The new exhibition is now open

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An unknown version of Zdzisław Beksiński at a new exhibition in the gardens of the Wawel Royal Castle. 14 sculptures, including “Macbeth”, “Hamlet” and works from the series of skulls and reliefs called “Heads”, are now open to the public. This is the first such monographic exhibition of sculptures by an artist who abandoned sculpting in his youth in favor of painting, for which he is famous.

From Thursday, 14 sculptural works by Zdzisław Beksiński can be seen in the royal gardens at Wawel. The exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” is the first monographic exhibition of sculptures by this artist, known primarily for his paintings.

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The new exhibition of the Wawel Royal Castle is a series of skulls and reliefs entitled “Heads”, as well as monumental works “Macbeth” and “Hamlet”. The outdoor exhibition can now be viewed. The exhibition will be open until October 1.

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Exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” in the gardens of the Wawel Royal CastlePAP/Łukasz Gągulski

Beksiński’s dark sculptures and the lushness of the Wawel gardens

Due to the fact that the exhibition will be located outdoors, the sculptures will strongly contrast with their surroundings – especially on a sunny day. As the Wawel Royal Castle emphasizes in the press release, “the exuberance of the natural world, for which the Wawel gardens are famous, will meet at the exhibition with darkness and anxiety expressed in Beksiński’s work, still surrounded by an aura of mystery”.

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We were hoping for a synergy effect. This nature, which is extremely changeable here, which will delight us with its lushness for several months, and Beksiński’s sculptures, is a big clash and a challenge – said the curator of the exhibition, Małgorzata Gołębiewska, before the opening of the exhibition.

The castle authorities emphasize that this is the first monographic exhibition of Zdzisław Beksiński’s sculptures. The works made by the artist in plaster or metal and stored in the Sanok museum were cast in bronze especially for it. As the curator explained, Beksiński did not create in bronze, among others, for financial and technological reasons. – We managed to realize the intention of the artist – added Marcin Gołębiewski, curator.

Exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” in the gardens of the Wawel Royal CastleWawel Royal Castle

The series “Heads” consists of bronze variations on the theme of a human skull and flat reliefs.

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Among the works by Beksiński gathered at the outdoor exhibition are “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”. As described by the curators of the exhibition, Hamlet is “a highly processed image of a human figure, stretched out, strongly bent, unstable and requiring a pedestal, forming the form of a throne or an armchair”. In turn, they describe the image of Macbeth as “a tragic kneeling figure, with his arms stretched upwards, which Beksiński achieves a strong, dramatic effect”.

Exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” in the gardens of the Wawel Royal CastleWawel Royal Castle

Zdzisław Beksiński’s romance with sculpture

In the opinion of the creators of the exhibition, the presented collection is very diverse. The works include both light and hollow forms, as well as full solids with depressions and holes that resemble multiplied eye sockets.

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As Małgorzata Gołębiewska emphasized, Beksiński’s sculptural episode took place at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s. – Then, in just a few years, this type of artist’s activity ended – explained the curator, admitting that the exhibition is also supposed to pose questions about this unknown sphere of his work. – We hope that this will be the beginning of research into whether Beksiński would continue this work if he had the financial or spatial conditions to do so, or whether he really exhausted his means of expression in sculpture and only painting was the medium that best reflected his emotional states – she added.

Exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” in the gardens of the Wawel Royal CastlePAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The exhibition of works by Zdzisław Beksiński is part of a series of presentations of contemporary artists at Wawel.

– In 2020, our main slogan was Wawel Otwarty. We tried to provide tourists with spaces that are rarely accessible or inaccessible at all, and the Wawel gardens are such a space – reminded the deputy director of the museum, Piotr Rabiej. – But the open Wawel also means that the Royal Castle as a residential museum enters into a dialogue with contemporary art, wants to present the achievements of the most outstanding Polish contemporary artists. We started with Józef Wilkoń, then we presented the works of Bronisław Chromy, and this year the time has come for the intriguing works of Zdzisław Beksiński – explained Rabiej.

Exhibition “Beksiński. Sculptures” in the gardens of the Wawel Royal CastlePAP/Łukasz Gągulski

PAP, Wawel Royal Castle

Main photo source: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

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