Modern Quartet!


Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz, Bush, 1951 Adelaide, oil on canvas. Photograph by Graeme Hastwell.

Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz – MODERNIST QUARTET!

Charles Darwin didn’t operate with “spirituality” or the “Mind” – he left this for philosophy. Freud, in his psychoanalysis, studied the artist and his relation to fantasy. Van Gogh and Chagall were labelled as mad, and accused by critics of not being able to draw. All four were considered mad. In fact, the first two dealt with “Science fiction”, the second [two] “Abstraction”.

Human beings have always needed belief systems and icons. This brings out a structure in life for the simple human mind. Art serves precisely the same purpose. Every visual form brought into reality by an artist can be named according to a style. I couldn’t be attracted to abstraction unless I knew it was possible for human beings to create new things. My knowledge of Darwin, who put equal value on all life, provided the foundation for a shift in perception from human-centred consciousness.

Even the question of life on other planets is of interest to the imagination of artists. In today’s education system more visual conceptions are introduced, from simple geometry to computers, telescopes and microscopes. There is more emphasis on the visual side of culture in everyday life. If the complexity of eternity is camouflaged by religious concepts of all kinds, then symbolism is central to these representations.

To me, in my student days, to accept the story in the Bible of Moses’ vision of the burning bush was a symbol of God. This form of abstraction, in terms of thinking, took me ages to portray in my painting. It is difficult for a materialist to understand the concept of fire in someone’s vision, the connection of inner and outer. Perhaps Freud was able to explain this better.

Moses – seeing god as a cloud of fire, to lead [people] out of the desert – Darwin, Freud, Van Gogh, Chagall – in a kind of “Lucidum Intervale” … to the Promised Land.

To emphasise the circumstances of the science-arts axis in the 19th century, every one of them was “new” or engendered in that era. But in the 20th century the world became conceited, vast and full of motion. The world rushes on. Man went to the moon and returned. Today the sky, even space is not empty.

This quartet of individuals lived with great vision in a time of darkness. But they and many others opened up the darkness to a new dawn. Darwin didn’t talk of “mankind” but “organism”. Only the artists showed us by imagining those creatures that man is not made of glass. So “Heaven will come down to earth”.

Did they sacrifice all their knowledge and experience for us? I have no idea. All I know is that within the four walls of my life they were a window for me. For me, this quartet initiated humanism and introduced the change from “Romanticism”. They were able to transcend the socially imposed limits to reach acute knowledge and forms or ideas which cannot be compared with earlier creations of the 19th century. [This was a beautiful time].

The two scientists did not know the two artists, but all their actions and creativity were strongly criticised in the [early 20th] century. Why did I sculpt a portrait of Darwin or paint a picture “For Stravinsky”? To compare music and the abundance in our visual world I could find an abundance of Polish adjectives. The pluralistic culture of the world will continue. The size of a person’s vocabulary and the degree of comprehension does nor matter.

Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz
Kalori, vol. 30, no. 2 (Winter 1992) np.
(NB – slight edits to the original text by Adam in square brackets)


About dutkiewiczarchive

The archive of Dr Adam Jan Dutkiewicz, artist, writer, art historian, researcher, editor, publisher, book designer, proof reader, catalogue designer, exhibition curator and specialist in South Australian art and enthusiast for post-war architecture and design
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