Lenica's early work was inspired by cubism and surrealism. In the 1930s, he created powerful, figurative paintings with strong features that in time gave way to compositions reflecting surrealist influences. A breakthrough in his career came with a move to Kraków. His art flourished in the 1940s. He was friends with Jerzy Kujawski, who navigated his way between the surrealist milieu and the later trend of action painting. Kujawski's fresh, Western European perspective on art inspired Lenica to make successive painting discoveries, as did the activities of the Kraków avant-garde obviously associated with Tadeusz Kantor.
Although Lenica's relatively short stay in Kraków only lasted a few years, it was extremely fruitful. In the mid-1940s, the artist returned to Poznań and joined the Polish Workers' Party and the trade union of Polish Visual Artists of the Poznań District (of which he soon became president). In the late 1940s, together with Feliks Maria Nowowiejski and Ildefons Houwalt, he founded the avant-garde art group 4F+R (whose abbreviated name stood for the Polish words for form, paint, texture, fantasy + realism). The group was later joined by Tadeusz Kalinowski, Fortunata Obrapalska, Zygfryd Wieczorek, and others.
The interests of 4F+R members included painting, sculpture, and industrial design. Their main idea was to abandon such trends as naturalism and impressionism and promote the type of art that would be accessible to everyone and socially oriented. (It was in keeping with 4F+R's postulates that the modernist Okrąglak building was constructed in Poznań!)
Needless to say, Lenica's artistic history did not end in the 1940s. The artist subsequently moved to Warsaw, worked in the Krzywe Koło Gallery, and later joined the 2nd Kraków Group. His paintings depicted symbolic and war themes. The artist temporarily dispensed with traditional painting and experiments with decalmania, photomontage, and collage. In the 1940s and 1950s, Lenica's works featured dark Tascist experiments on the one hand and disturbing compositions created by spilling paints on canvas on the other. In the period of socialist realism, the artist again began to take up social and political themes. In the late 1950s, he continued his painting experiments, which allowed him to develop a distinctive, lively, musical style.
The majority of the Lenica's paintings displayed in the Piekary Gallery come from the 1940s and 1950s, a time crucial for the formation of his painting style.
translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski
Alfred Lenica. Patches in the sky and on the ground
27 May-5 August
© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2022