Introduction to LUDWIK DUTKIEWICZ (1921-2008): A SURVEY
An exhibition of the artist’s work from 1950-2000s, RSASA Gallery, Adelaide, January – February 2011
Ludwik Dutkiewicz was born in Stara Sol, outside Lwow, Poland, in 1921. After traumatic experiences during the war, throughout which time he was protected by an older brother, Wladyslaw, he found his way to a Displaced Persons’ camp in Bavaria, where he stayed for
four years, working in a touring theatrical troupe and in administration.
He migrated to Australia in 1949 and settled in Adelaide. In 1951 he held a joint exhibition with Wladyslaw at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts (RSASA), after which he was elected Fellow. In 1953 he was awarded the Cornell Prize at the Contemporary Art Society of South Australia (CASSA) and won it again in 1954. He was recognized as one of several of South Australia’s most progressive artists of the era, who were featured in the film Painting 1950-1955 South Australia. He exhibited with a selected CASSA group in London in 1954, and was a member of the Adelaide Group, which showed work in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne until 1957. He was Vice-President or committee member of the CASSA from 1954-62, and lectured for several years at the South Australian School of Art.
Ludwik arrived in Australia as an expressionist painter but soon became a committed abstractionist. At that time there was almost no abstract art here, and certainly none in Adelaide: indeed, he and his brother pioneered that territory in South Australia. The brothers were attracted to this area as a reaction against the kind of art promulgated by the Nazis in Western Europe and Stalinists in the Eastern Block. They also believed fine
art should be imaginative and should free itself of tired and clichéd, representational forms; and that it had evolved in modern times to expand beyond illustration of people and their environment.
Ludwik joined the staff of the Botanic Gardens on 19 February 1953 as a botanical illustrator. His work in this field was published in many journals and books, and has received international recognition. During his final years in the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium he concentrated on line drawings and his work features extensively in the early volumes of the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, The Flora of Central Australia
(1981), The Flora of South Australia by J. P. Jessop and H. Toelken (1986) and, in his year of retirement, Flowering Plants in Australia by B. Morley and H. Toelken (1983). He was also included in the 6th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration, Pittsburgh (1988). There are some 1500 of his illustrations in the Gardens’ archive.
From 1964, Ludwik shifted much of his creative energy into film. In a partnership with scriptwriter/photographer Ian Davidson he directed Transfiguration, which featured the music of Anton Bruckner and was shown in the Sixth Adelaide Film Festival; it received
an AFI award for Best Black and White Photography and is in the collection of the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. He made two other films in the mid-late 1960s with Davidson: Reflections and Time in Summer, the latter a feature film that was selected for the Berlin
Dr Brian Morley, in the opening speech for his 1987 retrospective exhibition, observed that the “artistic output of [Ludwik] Dutkiewicz shows a remarkable dicothomy between the abstract paintings extending over more than thirty years carried out in his private time
and the accomplished botanical illustrations undertaken as a public servant.”
This book shows the convergences and divergences of these activities as well as the artist’s explorations over a range of media, highlighting especially many of his paintings in oils and acrylics, graphics and his black and white photography.
from Ludwik Dutkiewicz: Adventures in Art (Adelaide: Moon Arrow Press, 2009)