From early photographs showing grandparents’ house and everyday life in Łodygowice in the 1960s to mature and accomplished artwork of the present day, the exhibition is an autobiographical journey through all the important aspects of the artist's life.
Agata Smalcerz, curator:
It is common knowledge that the further we step into the autumn of life, the more willingly we cast our minds back to the early stages – our lost childhood...
Nestled at the foot of the Mały Beskid mountain chain is Łodygowice – a sleepy village where Michał Kliś grew up and which he now sees as a lost Arcadia. Home with an extended family, including grandpa and grandma who embodied traditional values and passed on their wisdom to the younger generation, is now little more than a distant memory. And yet, with every passing year, the artist is increasingly conscious of the impact of that formative period. Kliś revisits the good old times in his latest exhibition “Saved from Oblivion”. The exhibition features a series of photographs, the oldest dating from the artist’s youth in the 1960s. They show a very realistic world, as do his later paintings, drawings and prints. the artist juxtaposes his photographs with paintings of relatives and neighbours.
The exhibition also features posters, probably the artist’s most popular area of work, containing references to the landscapes of Łodygowice and the symbolism derived from the culture of the Beskid mountains and the region at their foot.
The artistic career of Michał Kliś appears as an autobiographical story about important matters. His paintings, prints, drawings, posters and photographs are an ongoing story about life, about joys and sorrows, successes and failures, ambivalent feelings, constant struggle with tensions and various emotions. His works are memories of roots, tradition, history, and culture that shape a conscious identity.
The artist’s attitude to the past seems quite close to that of Marcel Proust and his artistic reconstruction of the sublime and colourful perception of events which coexisted in what he called le temps perdu (lost time). (…)presented for the first time to the public, his photographs from before the 1990s should be perceived as acts of unveiling individual particles of his identity – very much like the colourful spots Mendini painted on Proust’s armchair – which reflect dozens of events that have shaped the artist’s personality today. At the same time, however, they constitute records a bygone era, a sui generis insight into the past, which is attractive to both older generations who can reminisce about realities they know so well, and to younger people for whom the photographs provide a vehicle for travelling in time. (…)The artist uses his pen, brush or photo camera in an attempt to immortalise experienced moments in a form that is subjected to aesthetic sublimation. This he does in order to share those moments with the viewer and make them build up an appetite for life.*
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essays about the artist's work by Irma Kozina, Teresa Dudek-Bujarek and Agata Smalcerz.
*The above excerpts have been quoted from the essays included in the catalogue “Michał Kliś. Saved From Oblivion. Paintings, Prints, Drawings, Posters, Photographs”:
Agata Smalcerz “Return to Arcadia”
Irma Kozina “Nostalgia of Death or Awakening of the Appetite for Life? Photographic Relics of the Life of Professor Michał Kliś Dusted Off”
Teresa Dudek Bujarek “Repository of Memory”
Michał Marian Kliś – graphic designer, poster artist, academic, rector of the first term of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice (2001–2005).
He was born on September 13, 1945 in Bielsko-Biała and grew up in the village of Łodygowice. He studied between 1969 and 1974 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, Faculty of Graphics in Katowice where he obtained a degree at the Department of Poster run by Professor Tadeusz Grabowski, and a Minor in editorial design under Professor Stanisław Kluska and painting under Professor Andrzej S. Kowalski. He also studied printmaking under Professors Andrzej Pietsch, Wojciech Krzywobłocki and Stanisław Gawron. He received the title of full professor in 2000.
He began his academic career in 1974 and has since been associated with the Faculty of Graphic Design in the Katowice branch of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.
He has participated in over 150 exhibitions in Poland and abroad. He has designed a number of logos, as well as poster and stage design for the Puppet Theatre Banialuka in Bielsko-Biała and Teatromania in Bytom. He is the winner of numerous awards for outstanding artistic and academic achievements, and in painting and poster competitions in Poland and abroad.
His works can be found in the collections of Museum in Bielsko-Biała, Poster Museum in Wilanów, Museum of Upper Silesia in Bytom, National Museum in Gdańsk, National Museum in Poznań, Museum of Modern Art Toyama, Ogaki Museum of Art, Art Museum Lahti, ONZ New York, Musei e Gallerie Pontificie Vaticano, Royal Academy Sydney, Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris.
The photograph shows Michał Kliś in front of Asia and Jerzy’s cabin in the village of Istebna, hamlet Górne Olecki at the foot of Mount Kubalonka.
The exhibition runs from 3 September to 3 October, 2021.
The opening: Friday, 3 September at 5 pm.
See the exhibition of drawings and prints by Michał Kliś entitled “Christmas” in the Café Club Aquarium in Galeria Bielska BWA, (5–30 December, 2018) >>
See works by Michał Kliś in the Art Collection of Galeria Bielska BWA >>
The exhibition is part of the programme of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the merger of Bielsko and Biała.