Exhibition Hall

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Ryszard Warsinski

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Ryszard Warsinski (Pictures 1964-1975) // Curator: Hilde Mørch, Kunsthistorisk Prosjektsenter (Art History Project Centre)


Ryszard Warsinski was a Polish-Norwegian artist who has had considerable influence on Norwegian art. This exhibition focuses on his works from the year he came to Norway and up to his exhibition in Galleri Haaken in 1975. He was born in 1937 in Gdynia, a town near Gdansk, two years before the Germans marched into Poland and started the Second World War. His experiences of the war and its aftermath would be formative experiences for the young Warsinksi. When he was fifteen he entered Art School in Orlowo, continuing his art education with six years of study at the Warsaw Art Academy. It was during his last year at the academy that he got to know the Norwegian art student, Brit Fuglevaag, who was on a year’s scholarship. They settled in Norway as a couple in 1964 and got married. The contemporary art scene at that time must have seemed relatively provincial, with few dedicated galleries for contemporary work.


Warsinski’s formative years with the war all around him, his extensive knowledge of European history, art history, philosophy, literature and his deep interest for myths and traditions of every kind – these were all components in his creative universe, in which there was space for the most paradoxical conjunctions of ideas and dynamic concepts. East and West meet in these works in ways that can be interpreted as both political and personal expressions. Warsinki’s encyclopaedic knowledge and uncompromising intellectual appetite were the driving forces for artworks in which his approach to life and to art were inseparable. During the early part of his career exhibitions of his work were received with critical praise and attention from some quarters and from others a deep scepticism and bewilderment in relation to the un-Norwegian and foreign character of his output. He was a breath of fresh air in the cultural life of Norway, but arrived too early to be awarded the position he deserved. During the 1960s and 1970s, when his career was at its peak, Norway was very far from being a multi-cultural society; Warsinki was met with scepticism because of his Polish background. Over the years he exhibited prolifically and his works were acquired for many important collections, private and public, including the National Museum (104 works), Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Oslo Municipal Art Collection, Telenor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Den norske bank and the Storting.


Curator Hilde Mørch has worked on Warsinski’s art for many years. She curated the exhibition Ryszard Warsinski. ONO MATO POE TIKON – Et billedlig opprør at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (2003) and has written the book Ryszard Warsinski. Confabulari. Bildets vesen og den grusomme skjønnhet (Orfeus Publishing, 2015).