The separate imaginations #1 - Edward Okuń

The separate imaginations will be the cycle of posts on Polish artist which I admire because they were individual and powerful in their art, however, they often remain unrecognised for the wider public. By writing about them I want to make their art more accessible and show people how much amazing art is in the world.

Each country has its separate art and separate ways. However, cliche this statement may seem, it is so real when confronted with the reality of art in (non-existing) Poland during so-called period of Young Poland, which would be familiar with the earlier stage of modernism, if roughly translated for English art periods.

The artist I want to share today is a painter, Edward Okuń. He was born in 1872 and died in 1945. Okuń was a painter, draughtsman, and illustrator, representative of the Symbolist movement in the art of the Młoda Polska period. His artistic education was in Warsaw, Cracow and Munich, while he also lived in Hungary and Italy. During his lifetime, he was considered one of most individual Polish artists while today he sadly fell into oblivion. The main inspirations of his works lie in Italian Rennaisance, English Pre-Raphaelites' art and Art Noveau, however when combined with Okuń's individual artistic sensibility, a perception of the world and fancy for decoration, they created the separate world of fairy tale and enchantment which is visible to the greatest extent in his painting The War and Us. The painting refers to WWI, the artist walks together with his wife under the cape which separates them from the cruelty of the exterior world symbolised by the figure of the old lady. Curiously, the war is depicted through the figures of dragons evoking the associations with danger and, again, cruelty. The dragons seem to be inspired by Chinese art, yet the dragon is a vivid figure in Polish folklore tales, and even the symbol of the city of Cracow.

The War and Us, between 1917 and 1923


 The white flower stained with blood. Its symbolism may refer to the things lost in WWI, flowers are also cut, that suggest something dead. The war raging outside of the artist's world can also break into it. Nothing can be the same anymore.

The portrait of the artist's wife, between 1904 and 1907

Four Strings, 1904
Four ladies dressed in black walk outside of the violin which is surrounded by chrysanthemum, generally connected with the dead in Polish culture. The violin symbolises the dead musician. 

Paganini's death, 1898
Another painting inspired by the music. Here, Okuń portrays the death of great Italian violinist - Paganini

The window view, 1905

The self-portrait with the Sicilian woman (the artist's wife), 1913

Philistines, 1904

Spring Intoxications, 1906

Salome, 1928

Apart from painting, Okuń was also an illustrator, amongst others for Chimera magazine. Here are some works he drew for them.

Cover of the November 1902 issue. For some reason, I associate this with Oscar Wilde's Salome.

The night, 1903
Some other illustration of which I couldn't find a source:
It is called The Rabbits and makes me think of my university campus.

For more details from artist life, you may want to visit this site. The website itself is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in Polish culture, art and literature.


another spring rain

Another spring, another rain. Another place.

I wonder whether writing this post is useful for anyone. I decided to start with this blog to write about things that impressed me in some way. I want to share what I am doing because I think it may be useful or interesting for someone (it will be useful for me). Particularly I want to write down my thoughts about the movies I watched as I encountered some great examples of cinema not known to the wider public. The other thing is books as I have a habit of picking up random books and I discovered some great writers this way.

Not a surprise that some way I ended up studying English Literature with Creative Writing at UEA. Some things are doomed to happen but honestly, I was always thinking that my life would be moving around the places and that I will never go to university (maybe just film school). I thought so when I failed exams to film school, when I dropped out of History of Art and in many other moments. Sometimes I regret that I didn't start earlier, sometimes I am grateful as the lessons I had had taught me much more than any school in the world could.

And here I am now.

(I own this picture)