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Gallery of Polish Masters - 8. In search of harmony. The idyllic landscape

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8. In search of harmony. The idyllic landscape

Idyll, or pastoral, is a literary genre – a poem inspired by shepherds’ songs, glorifying life close to nature. Idyll was associated with Arcady, a mythological land of eternal happiness and harmony. Both of these concepts have long inspired the imagination of poets, writers, musicians and painters. In the interwar period there was a return to the universal ideas of Classicism regarded as the antidote to the trauma of World War I and the crisis of Modernism. Wacław Borowski, who was based in Poland and came from Łódź, was a Master of Neo-Classicism. Two large-format pastels, Idyll and Family Happiness, marked with the headphones symbol, represent characteristic solutions in composition and colour, that can also be observed in the artist’s graphic works. They are stylized genre scenes, theatrical and decorative, despite their realistic technique. The figures of animals: donkeys, doves and rabbits and props: a jug of milk, a bowl with fruit or blooming flowers, refer to harmony and order, prosperity and abundance. The serene ambience of both representations is emphasised by the saturated colours and soft value transitions characteristic of the pastel technique.
Jerzy Fedkowicz, one of the leading Polish Colourists, came up with another interpretation of Idyll. Fascinated by Paul Cézanne’s artwork, he referred to the compositional arrangement of the renowned The Bathers, painting a bucolic scene with naked women relaxing after a bath in the bosom of nature. Like Post-Impressionists, Fedkowicz resigned from value contrasts, unifying the structure of naked bodies, trees, the sky and mountains. The painting is kept in similar strongly dirtied colouration, and the artist dynamised the representation using vibrating dots of colour.
Dynamism and expression tinged with eroticism cannot be denied to Idyll by Zygmunt Waliszewski, which is hung above. Referring to the mediaeval chanson about a troubadour wandering around the world in search of the perfect lover the artist featured a daring and provocative scene. The wanderer resting in a forest has a vision of his beloved – naked and voluptuous, in a pose encouraging the start of intimate actions… Perhaps it is an apparition from the spirit world, an erotic dream, which could be confirmed by the unnatural whiteness of her body contrasting with the intensive colouration of the painting.

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