On this day in 2005 Zdzisław Beksiński, the Polish painter specializing in dystopian surrealism, was found dead in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body; two of the wounds were determined to have been fatal. The last painting of the artist is titled Y and was finished on the day of his death. It is a testament to Beksiński's departure from the fantastic, visionary, and highly detailed style he expressed in 1970s and 1980s, and a gradual shift of focus to formal experimentation. His paintings created within the last 20 years are usually variations of a simple topic, such as the body, head, or architecture. Beksiński made his art more and more abstract, aiming to increase the synthesis of depictions and tone, a far cry from the high contrast of color compositions.
This last painting crowns the period of a mature artistic experimentation. It presents a simple, ascetic, and undefined composition that brings a plethora of associations. The author himself described the shape present on the canvas as "a sheet metal but not a sheet metal." And indeed, the painting shows a dissipating, vanishing, geometric shape resembling a piece of sheet metal that is jagged, dotted with holes, and seems to undergo incessant destruction. The ridges spanning the mysterious shape form a cross, while the entire composition brings associations with the fleeting time and passing away. The cross is a recurring motif in Beksiński's art from the beginning to an untimely end, with the artist himself being unable to explain its frequent presence.
All works of Zdzisław Beksiński, even the ones that are seemingly completely abstract, contain underlying anthropomorphic meaning, metaphorically referring to issues that are deeply humane and existential, such as loneliness, fragility of life, and the fear of death and nothingness.
We present today's work thanks to the Historical Museum in Sanok.
P.S. Here you can read more about Surrealism and death in Beksiński's life and works!
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