Culture in Poznań



The consistent narrative of Bohdan Cieślak

The Narracje. (Narratives) Bohdan Cieślak exhibition in the National Museum is not so much an opportunity to view the artist's stage designs, as a chance to see what is normally hidden from the view of audiences, and what, in fact, begins the scenic visual concept. The exhibition opens on 17 February.

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Narracje (Narratives). Bohdan Cieślak

As stated in Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN, one of Poland's top encyclopaedias, stage design is "the art of creating theatre scenery, a space on the stage and an artistic setting for a play; it is a visual setting for a theatrical, film or television performance comprised of works of manual art, including paintings, as well as lighting, costumes and props". Its synonym, scenography, comes from the Greek word skḗnographía, which stands for "stage painting". Interestingly, this points to the roots of scenography, which lie in one of the most traditional fields of art, as well as to the whole new quality that scenography ultimately creates. How will this background be addressed in the Narracje. Bohdan Cieślak exhibition?

The event's title is not without significance, as the reference to a "narrative" suggests a story with a distinct beginning and end. Revisit the definition of stage design and you will surely realise that stage design must also have links to drawing, which is another "primary" field of art, and one inextricably linked to painting. Perhaps we do not give enough thought to the way creative thinking based in both painting and drawing affects and intertwines with other fields of art, and what drives the overall creative process that results in, for instance, a finished theatre stage design.

The display will feature sketches, drawings, design and mock-ups which use the "commissioned" theme of a theatrical performance as an inspiration but that also deserve to be treated as self-standing works. For the purposes of the exhibition, the artist's sketches will be used to produce a series of animations. The resulting "coming to life" of the drawings may open up further fields on which the viewers may reflect.

Bohdan Cieślak was born in Poznań in 1965. He is a graduate of the local State Academy of Fine Arts, i.e. today's University of Fine Arts. He returned to his Alma Matter in 1993, three years after his graduation, to assume a position in the Faculty of Stage Design in the Performing Arts Architecture Workshop. His design projects, which he began in 1994, are performances staged in Poland's theatres that also travel abroad. Some of his work can be seen in Teatr Polski in Poznań, Teatr Nowy in Łódź and the H. Modrzejewska Teatr in Legnica. Notably, Cieślak is not only a stage designer but also a drawer and painter in his own right, and one that is very particular about his technique.

Justyna Żarczyńska

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Narracje (Narratives). Bohdan Cieślak
  • Curator: Prof. Wojciech Suchocki
  • National Museum, vernissage: 17 February, 12 noon
  • Open through 31 March

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2019