100th Anniversary Exhibition – Part Two

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the Polish-born artist Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz’s birth. A commemorative exhibition of 40 works was mounted at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in May-June 2018. Although a large exhibition, it was thought more could be shown – hence this second exhibition of another forty works – large, medium and small paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculpture – at Royal SA Society of Arts Gallery in Adelaide.

The exhibition is to be opened by Christine Garnaut, Associate Professor, Planning and Architectural History and Director, Architecture Museum, School of Art, Architecture and Design at University of South Australia on Sunday 20 January 2019 at 2 pm.

There will also be a book launch by arts writer Samela Harris of Adam Dutkiewicz’s latest monograph on the Adelaide sculptor Andrew Steiner OAM, Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Society. Steiner was a long-time friend of Wlad’s, getting to know him through his amateur theatrical group The Art Studio Players. Steiner acted in Wlad’s second production, Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths, presented as a fringe production for the inaugural Adelaide Festival in 1960. Samela’s father, Max Harris, described it as a “theatrical tour de force”.

Adam is also making a limited edition of his biography of his father available as a paperback for the first time throughout the exhibition. It will be available from the Society and the publisher for $60 plus postage and handling.

2019 also marks the 20th anniversary of the artist’s passing.

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Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz

Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz was a painter, sculptor, writer, actor, stage designer and theatre director. After arriving in Adelaide in 1950 he was first noticed for his set designs for plays. He made a strong impact on art in South Australia with his forceful expressionist paintings and experimental modes of abstraction.
By the decade’s end he was included in publications on Australian art and international exhibitions. He formed the Art Studio Players, working with The Method from 1959-62, directed two plays for the Adelaide University Theatre Guild, in 1959 and 1967, and later appeared as an actor in several television dramas in Melbourne. In the 1950s and 1960s he was widely regarded as a leader of the lively modern art movement in Adelaide.
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100th Anniversary Exhibition

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Opened on 5 May 2018 at 2.30 pm. Opening speaker: Dr Christine Nicholls, Senior Lecturer, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University.

An exhibition of work by the late Polish-Australian artist Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz (1918-1999).

http://theconversation.com/wlads-worlds-polish-resistance-fighter-slavic-space-age-modernist-legendary-australian-artist-96192

Wlad was trained in Poland and Paris, was a partisan in World War Two, and fled to freedom ahead of the advancing Red Army in 1945. He spent four years in a Displaced Persons’ camp in Hohenfels, Bavaria, before migrating to Australia in 1949. He settled in Adelaide in 1950 and lived there until his death.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Adam Dutkiewicz, the artist’s second son, who is a prominent Adelaide art historian and publisher of small press editions on local art and artists.  It presents a selection of around 40 works from the family collection and on loan from private collections and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

The exhibition is part of the 2018 History Festival and is proudly supported by the Royal SA Society of Arts, Inc. The exhibition concluded on 10 June 2018.

http://www.murraybridgegallery.com.au/coming-soon/2018/5/4/wladyslaw-dutkiewicz-100th-anniversary-exhibition

https://historyfestival.sa.gov.au/history-festival-events-search?field_event_date_picker%5Bdate%5D=27%2F04%2F2018&field_event_date_picker_1=&field_event_type=51&field_event_type%5B51%5D=51&field_tourism_region=1694&field_tourism_region%5B1694%5D=1694&search_api_aggregation_1=Wladyslaw+Dutkiewicz

 

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SJ Ostoja-Kotkowski

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Some time ago I photographed the above work, an abstract in oil by the late artist Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski (1927-1994)  in a  private collection in Adelaide.  Since then, a number of new things by the artist have come into my in-tray via email and Facebook.

One of the impressive items was a mural that had been left intact since 1960, in a house that had gone up for sale (below) . This was very similar to work I had seen 20 years ago that was presented as part of the 6th Australian Architectural Convention Exhibition (6AACE) held in Botanic Park, Adelaide, in 1956. Stan was well known in Adelaide for his murals in hotels and restaurants, and his murals and bas-relief sculptures became very sought after in bars, hotels and corporate offices in South Australia and beyond.

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Stan was also an impressive sculptor and photographer. Some years ago I worked at Flinders University Art Museum at Bedford Park SA accessioning work from a large collection of graphics, photographs and documentary material that was left to the Museum. It also included numerous oil paintings and examples of transitional works as he moved away from oils to plastics and electronic technologies, in op art and what would become his multimedia art that incorporated electronics, photography, light and laser projection and sometimes human performance. One of those images was incorporated into his profile that I included in my collaboration with Gary Sauer-Thompson in 2016, titled Abstract Photography: Re-evaluating visual poetics in Australian modernism and contemporary practice (Moon Arrow Press, 2016).

Around 2000 I managed to save a mural that had been installed in the international terminal at Adelaide airport – with the cooperation of the airport’s management, I managed to secure the work on permanent loan to Flinders University, with the help of the then Directors of the Museum, Doreen Mellor then Gail Greenwood. After negotiations, the mural was installed in the foyer of the IT Building on campus.

I recently found another example of Ostoja’s oil painting style from the late 1950s in Adelaide:

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I will need to investigate further to provide captions for these images, but wanted to share them here.

An amusing historical video exists that captures this artists experimental activities in Adelaide in 1962: https://youtu.be/bYP-Su8YP7k

Note that the narrator mispronounces Stan’s surname on each occasion – a sign of the times!

 

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A Visual History – volume two

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OTHER SIGNIFICANT ARTISTS

As I undertook compiling, editing and designing volume one of the Society’s history in 2016, it became clear that many significant artists could not be accommodated within the framework I had set up in the book to provide an overview of the foundations and main affiliations and actors. I was determined to have the book as comprehensive as possible, and for it to be a complete publication in itself: hence the inclusion of a selection of artists from the Society’s first fifty years and the inclusion of profiles of all the Presidents and most of the significant officials and the Honorary Life Members of the Society.

The book worked well overall, but how could such a survey of South Australian art not include stalwarts of the Society who were not officials but had served on Council, some of them for decades, like Gwen Barringer, and other major artists like Margaret Preston, Dorrit Black, Horace Trenerry and Sir Ivor Hele? There were many more modern artists, especially after World War Two, of considerable importance, who should be recorded in such a history; and the current membership should also be considered and compete for inclusion.

With such thoughts in mind I put the idea of a second volume to the management and the Council, and they agreed but noted the stress the first publication had imposed on the Society’s limited means. I knew a second volume would be important in order to be thorough and to promote the Society and its contemporary relevance in the broader art community in South Australia. With a few exceptions — such as John Kay and William Maxwell, who might have been included in the first volume — this volume is mostly confined to the years since artists themselves have managed the Society, extending back to 1909. The inclusion of the two profiles mentioned does offer an opportunity to revise the background to the organisation here: in the case of Maxwell, his profile is not recorded in art history books elsewhere and is of particular interest to the Society because Past President and Honorary Life Member Dr John Dowie AM, Adelaide’s best sculptor of the 20th century, penned the article in Kalori, the society’s journal.

In many respects this second volume is a better survey of the Society’s talent across its history, because it shows some of its most famous artists and gives a better idea about the vitality of the mid-late 20th century and the approaches of its contemporary membership. But where to stop, and who to include? Many discussions were undertaken and suggestions made in the Society’s office over 2016 and early 2017, but my brief from Bev Bills and Vikki Waller was to provide a wide spread of genres and media and to ensure that former and younger members were also included, being especially aware of prize winners in the Society’s major exhibitions and the impetus provided by the Youthscape programme.

The result is a book that cuts a cross-section through the current art scene in Adelaide. The two volumes, in combination including 300 chapters and over 1,050 images, provide a significant overview of art in South Australia since colonisation, and it is the first encyclopedia-like volume since 1969. It is hoped this volume, and its accompanying one from 2016, will both set standards and provide inspiration.

[Volume Two is available at the RSASA Gallery for $50.00. It was launched a Adelaide Town Hall by the Lady Mayoress Genevieve Theseira-Haese during the History Festival in May 2018.]

 

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Jan Dutkiewicz

JAN DUTKIEWICZ (b. 1911, Stara Sol, Poland, d. Katowice, Poland, 1983)15380315_10155038298978917_8803582291899448749_n-copy

 

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Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz

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Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz – photo by Peter Medlen, 1962

Upon his arrival in Australia in 1949, Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz’s art was not too
experimental: the paintings he managed to execute in Bavaria after the war were
solid exercises in landscape, still-life and portraiture, in which he searched to
find his “voice”. They were produced in a well-crafted, rather academic style, but
showed flair with brushwork and a finely tuned sensibility and flair for expression
and abstraction. His early paintings here, however, indicate an amazing and
torrential outpouring of pent-up creative energy. Wlad’s first solo exhibition was
at Curzon Gallery, Adelaide, in early June 1951; the work caused a sensation
among the circles of artists and exhibition-goers. During his first solo shows at
the RSASA patrons were seen queuing up the stairs and outside of the Institute
Building waiting for the gallery to open.

The enormous and wide-reaching impact Wlad had on the art world in
Adelaide extended beyond visual arts. The research undertaken on the Adelaide
theatre scene in the exhibition A Brush with the Stage (1992) fully
revealed his experience in theatre, both in Hohenfels in Germany and in
Adelaide. We discovered, for instance, that he had retained his concept sketch for
a set for the opera La Traviata, which he had prepared in post-war Germany, and exhibited it in his first major exhibition in Australia in 1951. It was a surprise to find that his sepia-coloured, daguerreotype-like sets for Francis Flannagan’s production of Alexander Ostrovsky’s A Man Must Live, in November 1950, were his first achievements to catch the eyes of critics in Australia. Soon after he was commissioned to design sets for Iris Hart’s production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba (1951) and again for Flannagan’s interpretation of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country (1952). While recovering from his accident in 1957, he collaborated with Thomas Steel on the set designs for John Edmund’s productions of Fallen Angels and Bus Stop, and collaborated with Jacqueline Hick, with whom he often painted in the studio of Francis Roy Thompson, on Anna Karenina in 1959.

From 1959 until 1962 he ran his own theatre group, the Art Studio Players, resprising his activities in DP camps after the war, directing several productions and acting in some of them, including Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths (1960). He later acted in television dramas for Crawford Productions in Melbourne.  His final stage production was Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck for the Adelaide University Theatre Guid, in 1967.

In painting, Wlad’s exploration of modernist styles and his personal synthesis of them, in his first several years in Adelaide, were truly remarkable, especially in the context of Australian art of the period. This was duly noted by a number of people attuned to contemporary art, most notably Max Harris and Ivor Francis, who wrote glowing reports on this “New Australian” artist and the impact he was having on the local art scene.
Within a year Lisette Kohlhagen and Dorrit Black, before her death in 1951, were also heaping praise while the conservative reviewers were horrified. The debate about radical modernism in Adelaide was reignited well before the French Painting Today touring exhibition in 1953, an event often highlighted as a turning point in Australian art, as it heralded the rise of abstract painting.

Wlad had won the Cornell Prize at the Contemporary Art Society on its inaugural occasion in 1951 and again in 1955; in the intermediate years he won several medals and prizes, and later the Advertiser Prize (shared with Erica McGilchrist). He was one of seven artists featured in the film Painting 1950-1955 South Australia, selected by his peers at the CAS of SA. He was included in Survey 1 at National Gallery of Victoria in 1958; the Helena Rubinstein at Art Gallery of NSW in 1958; Contemporary Australian Art at Auckland Art Gallery 1960 (which later toured to two other public galleries in New Zealand – Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui and Christchurch Art Gallery); Recent Australian Painting, at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1961; and Australian Artists at Raymond Burr Galleries in Beverly Hills, USA (1961).

He had major survey exhibitions in Royal SA Society of Arts 1961; Lidums Gallery 1975; Greenhill Galleries, Adelaide 1989; Hilton International Hotel, Adelaide, 1991; Royal SA Society of Arts 1993; BMG Art 1995; and Royal SA Society of Arts, 2005.

In recent years he was featured in Paint[h]ing at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide (2010), curated by Domenico de Clario; Cubism and Australian Art, at Heide Museum of Modern Art (2009), curated by Lesley Harding and Sue Cramer; and Modern Being, Art Gallery of South Australia (2016-17), curated by Tracey Lock and Ellie Freak.

Below are links to major exhibitions the artist was involved with over the last decade and to his works on paper donated to the State Library of South Australia after his death.

https://www.heide.com.au/exhibitions/cubism-australian-art

http://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1385/70

 

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