KRZYSZTOF M. BEDNARSKI
Born 1953 in Krakow, Poland. Lives and works in Rome, Italy.
Sculptor, action artist, author of installations and objects, poster designer.
Bednarski studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw between 1973 and 1978. While still a student he began to work with Jerzy Grotowski. By 1975 he participated in the post-theatrical projects of Grotowski's Teatr Laboratorium, creating a series of posters for productions like Vigil (1976-1977), Project Mountain (1977), Project Earth (1977-1979), Human Tree (1979), and others.
In 1978 Bednarski completed his diploma work titled Total Portrait of Karl Marx. Created under the direction of Professor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, the work consisted of multiple cast heads of Communism's chief ideologue. The piece mocked a figure that was surrounded by an official cult and proved one of the most significant works of the political contestation movement that preceded the social upheavals of August 1980.
Between 1978 and 1986 the artist participated in numerous sculptural symposiums in the country and abroad, among others attending those in Carrara (1982 and 1985). During these he created works in traditional materials (marble, bronze). Legible, identifiable metaphors, these often drew on the motif of an exaggeratedly large hand. The best known of these - a marble sculpture titled Victoria Victoria (1983) - was viewed as the visual equivalent of the social mood that reigned in Poland during Martial Law.
In 1984 Bednarski began spending more time in Rome, a city that was home to his future wife - theatre scholar, philologist and journalist Marina Fabbri. In the spring of 1986 he traveled to equatorial Africa, a very significant voyage to his personal spiritual development. A new period in the artist's work began with Moby Dick (1987), made of the hull of a yacht that Bednarski happened on one day and that seemed to him to be an answer to his search through both its form and the metaphorical meaning inherent in it. The shape of a boat hull would now appear in many works: combined with the motif of an African mask in a series of small sculptures titled Moby Dick - Mask (1989) or as the skeleton of a colossal structure in the installation Unsichtbar (1993), a piece inspired by the poetry of R. M. Rilke. Simultaneously, the artist reverted to the motif of the head of Marx, which became the building block for a number of new works, including La Rivoluzione siamo Noi (1989), The Collected Works of Karl Marx (1988), The Xram Lrak Burial Mound (1988), Finite Column (1991), and others.
In the late 1980s the artist began to create expansive installations which conveyed their meaning through abstract visual modules, both solid and openwork pyramids, spatial stars constructed of them (sometimes lit with red and blue light), and series of identically sized metal tables. Bednarski further enriched his formal language in a series titled Vision & Prayer (from1998). Based on the visual poetry of Dylan Thomas, the pieces in this series were produced using a variety of techniques (sculpture, relief, drawing). In yet another return to earlier solutions (something that became a hallmark of his work), the artist inscribed important meanings into humble materials (Polish Thanatos dating from 1984, dedicated to deceased friends from the theatre of Grotowski) and into such ephemeral matter as light and shadow. In Memory of Jan Szeliga (1980) is one work that consists specifically of the shadow cast by a shaped object. Similarly, a cast shadow is the essential element in Bednarski's design for a monument to Federico Fellini that will be erected in Rimini (designed in 1994, under construction). In 1997 Bednarski produced the tomb of famed filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski. In 1995 was an artist in residence at OMI Foundation (N.Y.). During the 1996/97 academic year, Bednarski was a guest teacher in the studio of professor Grzegorz Kowalski in the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1999 Warsaw's Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle mounted a solo exhibition of Bednarski's works titled Scarpe italiane - Italian Shoes, conceived as an original installation composed of the artist's earlier works accompanied by a self-mocking video performance of the same title.
In 1998-99 he was artist in residence at the Art Foundation by Daniel Spoerri "The Garden" in Tuscany (Italy), while in 2002 and 2003 he was part of the European project "Global Village Garden" (Germany) and received a grant from Leube Fondation in Salsburg (Austria). Among many exhibitions of the recent years in Poland and abroad Bednarski took part in: "In Between: Art From Poland 1945-2000", Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago (2001) and "Targetti Art Light Collection", Chelsea Art Museum, New York (2003).