In the early twentieth century the term 'Expressionism' was applied to the work of the Fauves, die Brucke, the Blaue Reiter group, the early Cubists and any other post-impressionists who eschewed the idea of art as a direct imitation of nature. Imitation had been the main principle of art since the Renaissance, and moving away from it raised the very vexed question of what to do with the objective reality that had been imitated for so long. Some rejoiced at being liberated from the 'tyranny of the object'. Kandinsky was excited by the idea that the 'revolt from dependence on nature' had finally begun, and that it was far from finished. Others, like Otto Dix, proclaimed that 'the object is primary and determines the form'. Even for Dix, however, form was adapted to convey powerful emotions.
Since the advent of Modernism the object has often been refined out of existence but it has never quite disappeared into extinction. Even when it is absent, the absence itself becomes part of the meaning. The object, then, has been distorted and subordinated to other elements of composition but somehow it refuses to be ignored completely.
Ziegmond Grochowski feels that colour, composition, shape and movement should all take precedence over the object but that surrendering the object completely would risk losing contact with his viewers. His paintings are about objects and experiences from the natural world but they are also about deeper and more essential values than those found in surface realities. Like Matisse, he often arranges objects within colours, shapes and spaces so that they are still recognizable but the composition, as a whole, is more an expression of a mood or a feeling than a representation of the object. Like Soutine, he can invoke imaginative power, so that the object is transformed, and like Kandinsky he is aware that imagination is expressed through interactions of colour and movement. For the most part, these influences are integrated with Grochowski's own compositional constructions but there is a tendency to follow the compositions of the works he admires a little too closely.
In 1949 Samuel Beckett and Georges Duthuit described the modern world as "a flux of movements partaking in living time" - a "fleeting instant of sensation given back, given forth" within a continuum. (1) Certainty and stability had given way to a world of uncertainty and change. Such a world of transience, and of 'living time', cannot be captured by figurative or narrative forms alone. It has to be captured by a fusing together of the intrinsic values within the object and within the creative mind.
This is what happens in the work entitled On my Bike. The bicycle wheel is visible, but it dissolves into a whirl of movement and colour. A bicycle wheel can be represented as a static object but it can also be representative of the idea of movement through time and space. A bicycle can propel its rider at such a rate that the physical environment is no longer clearly visible. It dissolves into the white background of the painting. The rider, the bicycle and the environment all become part of the one dynamic continuum, which can only be represented by movement, space and colour. In this instance, the movement is upwards and outwards, away from physical objects and realities and into another dimension.
Piano Break also transcends physical realities but in quite a different way. Whereas the bicycle suggests physical movement, the idea of music suggests intellectual and imaginative movement. The keyboard is a physical object but above it is a musical score. Below it is the head of the composer. By combining the keyboard with the score a musician can produce music which transports the listener beyond the physical world. In this work the artist adds a further dimension by combining his own creativity with that of the composer, and with the intrinsic values of the objects depicted. The emotionally charged colours have the same transcendent effects as emotionally charged music.
'Kinetic' refers to movement. And in this exhibition movement does not just refer to dynamic relationships between objects within the compositions. It refers to the inner meanings of these objects and to the meanings left behind when the objects no longer exist. As Kandinsky explained, back in 1911, "trees are not just trees: they give shade. Horses are not just animals: they run fast, and motor cars are even faster. It is, therefore, not the object that matters. It is the 'psychic effect' and the 'spiritual vibration' of the object that matters." (2) These psychic effects and spiritual vibrations have been captured by Ziegmond Grochowski in his paintings.
1 Beckett, S. and Duthuit, G., Three Dialogues: Tal
Coat, Andre Masson, Bram Van Velde (1949) in S. Beckett and G. Duthuit,
Three Dialaogues, London. 1965.
2 Kandinsky, W. Concerning the Spiritual in Art. English translation published in London by Constable and Company in 1977. P.23
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