11 August 2010

Jacek Yerka and Toruń

I wrote this text a year ago and had forgotten to post it. Postpone today!

A few weeks ago I visited Toruń, a very old and historic city in Poland. The city is famous for having preserved almost intact its medieval spatial layout and many Gothic buildings, all built from brick, including monumental churches, the Town Hall and many burgher houses. I went there to see an exhibition of my ex-mother in law, a famous Polish film Movie star, the late Helena Grossówna. When lying in bed at the hotel during the night, I was thinking about all the famous people who were born and worked in this city. Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Toruń on 19 February 1473. At that time Toruń was part of Royal Prussia, a region of the Kingdom of Poland. Helenka Grossówna was born in Toruń too, in 1904. In her time Toruń wasn’t Polish anymore, the city was part of the German Empire. After the Second World War Toruń returned to Poland. I started to think about famous painters born in Toruń. At first I couldn’t remember any, and then suddenly Eureka! Jacek Yerka of course. He was born and studied in Toruń and he is one of the most famous fantastic artists of his time all over the world. The perfect subject for my surreal-fantasy art blog.
Jacek Yerka was born in Torun in 1952 studied art at the University in Toruń. It was a time (and probably still is) when technique was less important, and no one studied the old Masters. But Yerka did, he learnt directly from the masters of Northern Europe - the Van Eycks, Dierck Bouts, Robert Campin, Bosch, and surrealists such as Magritte.
Yerka said:
I did the first painting in my life a year before going to college, where I began studying graphics. My instructors always tried to get me to paint in the more contemporary abstract style, and move away from my fascination with realism. I saw this as an attempt to stifle my own creative style and steadfastly refused to fall in line. Eventually, my teachers relented.
His paintings are acrylic on canvas, pastels and drawings on paper.
His works are neo-surreal, fairy tale like, fantastic and sometimes more Sci-Fi than fantastic. The colours are now and then very brutal and powerful and occasionally very delicate, but nevertheless very expressive. The details are amazingly excellent. You really sense the hand of a Master, (F.E.: Between Heaven and Hell, The Way). As a painter I can tell you how time consuming it is to make these kinds of paintings.

I don’t like every work of his, but I definitely respect his imagination and his technique. I even think of buying one of his paintings of his grandmother’s kitchen. I hope he will make a few new paintings with this motif. Especially I like “Between Heaven and Hell”, "Cupboard Sunset", "Indian Summer", "the Strawberry Grove" and the "Illegal Production of Light".
Yerka's work has been exhibited in Poland, Germany, Monaco, France, and the United States. His works are also to be seen in Polish art museums. Yerka's work can also be seen in Mind Fields, a book in which Harlan Ellison has provided narration for each of Yerka's selected pieces.
In 1995 the artist was awarded the prestigious World Fantasy Award for the best artist.

On his website you can read more about Jacek Yerka, by Jacek Yerka.
By the way the website is an excellent one, congratulations!

Below are a few images of my favourite paintings by Jacek Yerka.
The Strawberry Grove
The cupboard sunset
The winter wave
The road


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