||Bednarski, Krzysztof M.
works and lives in Italy
Krzysztof M. Bednarski – sculptor, action artist, author of installations, poster designer. He was born in Cracow on July 25, 1953. He has lived and worked in Italy since mid-1980s, maintaining permanent ties with his homeland. He studied at the Sculpture Faculty of Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts in 1973-1978.
From 1975, he participated in Jerzy Grotowski's post-theatre performances (Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium) and designed posters for these projects [Vigil (1976 – 1977), Project Mountain (1977), Project Earth (1977 – 1979), Human Tree (1979), and others].
His diploma work titled The Total Portrait of Karl Marx (1978), an open mockery of this communism’s chief ideologue, became one of the boldest political statements in art before Polish August 1980. Created under the direction of professor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, the work consisted of multiple cast heads of Karol Marx. The piece mocked a figure that was surrounded by an official cult and proved one of the most significant work of the political contestation movement that time.
In 1978-1986, the artist attended a number of sculpture symposia in Poland and abroad, including Carrara (1982 and 1985), where he developed interest in symbols of commonly readable signs, creating works in traditional materials (marble, bronze) with legible, identifiable metaphors (e.g. the 1983 marble sculpture Victoria-Victoria, the huge hand with the V sign and cut fingers, was regarded as the visual equivalent of a social mood in Poland under martial law). In 1984 Bednarski began spending more time in Rome, a city that was home to his future wife – theatre scholar, philologist and journalist Marina Fabbri. His journey to equatorial Africa in 1986 and ensuing experience of personal transformation was a boundary moment in Bednarski's work.
From 1986, he focused in the mainstream of his work on the creation of an own language of visual forms through which he objectified the individual.
Moby Dick, the hull of a boat he happened to find, responding with form and metaphor to Bednarski's exploration, ushered in a new chapter in his artistic life. Moby Dick was presented in several versions since 1987: combined with the motif of an Africa mask in a series of small sculptures titled Moby Dick – Mask (1988) or as the skeleton of a colossal structure in the installation Unsichtbar (1993), a piece inspired by the poetry of R.M. Rilke.
Italian Shoes Passsage
Passaggio Scarpe Italiane
Visual modules, the solid and openwork pyramids forming spatial stars (sometimes lit with red and blue light), and metal tables of fixed sizes, conveyed meanings of late 1980 installations. The series Vision & Prayer, based on the poetry of Dylan Thomas, that used the form of rhomb and hourglass, further enriched Bednarski's language. Ties with poetry constitute a permanent element in Bednarski's work ( Silentium Universis of 1984, based on a verse from Wisława Szymborska's poem Conversations with a Stone, Fuga da Bisanzio - a Josif Brodski of 1987.)
Motif of the head of Marx was reverted in 80-ties, becoming the base for number of new works: La Rivoluzione Siamo Noi (1988), The Collected Works of Karl Marx (1988), The Xram Lrak Burial Mound (1988), Finite Column (1991) and others.
Another permanent solution in his work is preserving important messages in degraded material (Polish Thanatos of 1984 in memory of his deceased friends from Grotowski's theatre, ecological Baltic Sarcophagus of 1993) or elusive light and shadow. Shadow, thrown by a properly created object, produced the work In Memory of Jan Szeliga (1980), and today is the essence of the design of a monument to Federico Fellini in Rimini (designed in 1994, now under construction). In 1976-1977, Bednarski was a visiting professor at Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts. He was granted a 1998 scholarship of Poland's Minister of Culture and Art in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Polish art abroad, and a 1998-1999 scholarship of Swiss Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri Foundation in Seggiano (Italy).
According to Maryla Sitkowska