Selected portraits

Portraits on request

An important theme in Ryszard Kalamarz's work are portraits. The artist creates them on request. There are oil paintings on canvas, pastels or black and white drawings. The variety of techniques used, but most of all the artist's insightful way of looking at the portrayed person, results in exceptional, unique creations.

“A world brought closer”

How to paint a bolero dancer…
Only from a memory in which she would
become a flowery banner
A cascade of rhymes and will.

So picturesque everybody could remember
Lender dancing the bolero
When Toulouse-Lautrec gets entangled
Only then this can be remembered.

This excerpt from Marek Grechuta’s song based on the painting by Toulouse-Lautrec “Marcelle Lender dancing the bolero” came to my mind when I was going to Teatr Wielki to see Ryszard Kalamarz’s exhibition. The young thirty-seven years old artist displayed his paintings from the ballet cycle. But the ballet dancers I saw had little in common with Toulouse-Lautrec’s dancers, nor did they have with Degas’s, although it might seem that the comparison springs to mind naturally. By no means did the oil paintings remind me of the works I saw in 1988 at the exhibition “Arsenal 1988” and “Painted on glass”, which were a review of paintings by young generation artists, contemporary of Ryszard Kalamarz.

The painting I had in front of me featured primarily two things: elements of tradition and well conceived contemporariness. Besides, it had something which made the world created by the artist attract and fascinate… MYSTERY. The three paintings rendered in navy and blue colours associated to me specifically immediately with the painters who were ages apart but had genius in common: Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso. As well as Velasquez. The dancer sitting on the floor, looking somewhere in the space outside the frame, smiling not really with her mouth but with a subtle tremble of her face, and next to her an animal a little reminiscent of Leonardo’s weasel and an Italian hound.

But it was not these obvious symbols – props that made me think of this comparison. It was rather the painting’s metaphysics, cool, mysterious smile-not-smile and eyes looking inside reminding of the absolute of the Giaconda. In the second painting the two dancers with some characters as if from Picasso’s Guernica in the background, and next to them a dog, a girl, a clear Velazquez joke. The third painting – a dancer with a black swan. Everything is blurred, as if held in motion. What else is seen. We can see light and music which seems to be impossible to paint. Still… There is music. Either cool as Bach or sensual as Strawiński. And at the same time the paintings are not abstract, they may have only abstract elements but the form is just realistic. The beautiful girls in the paintings convey a drama, introduce elements of vitality, sensuality or even eroticism. But in fact they are not the heroines of Kalamarz’s paintings. It is light, music, movement instead. In Kalamarz’s paintings sensualism, sensuality link with the ideal’s coolness. The world created by the artist is a beautiful world, without any tragic cracking, it is a world of movement and transition, it is in fact our contemporary world.

I thought that our fears, phobias, neuroses, our anxiety and loss, finally our loneliness is only one side of the painting. On the other hand, we are beautiful, pure, passionate, we can love and this is the second side of the painting. It seems to me that the world created by the artist is much more our own world than the one I recently saw at the “Zachęta” Gallery, where on display was the Łódź collection of contemporary painting. “Why is there no dancer who would dance our grief, although there is music that goes around polishing the floor for her?” Rafał Wojaczek wrote around twenty five years ago. “Why is there no dancer dancing in the name of our despair?”. “Why is there in the darkness no dancer dancing the light effectively?”. “Why is there no dancer who would dance our life and death?”
I had an impression I could find them all in Ryszard Kalamarz’s paintings. This interesting exhibition can be seen in the “Zapiecek” gallery in Warsaw.

Anna Piwkowska