FRANCISZKA THEMERSON At Cromwell Place
4th October – 17th October 2021
4 Cromwell Place,
London SW7 2JE
The European ArtEast Foundation is happy to be able to present this exhibition of Franciszka Themerson at Cromwell Place in London. The exhibition includes 12 works, which were made during the 1960s, the period when the colours of Franciszka’s work were drifting between black and grey. Some were in three dimensions with plaster and mixed media, others, on canvas with oil paint, others still, on paper with gouache and ink.
Later, during the 1970s, there was also white on white, but the works here belong to an earlier period typical of her work of that time. During Franciszka’s life in London, 1942–88 her art became a journey from geometric abstraction to figuration, from bright colours to the gradual bleaching of her palette, from simple cohesion of identifiable forms to painterly textures, such as those on the walls here. What was constant was the informal and unorthodox mode of creating an image, sometimes with brushes, sticks and fingers, occasionally by pouring paint. It is in these works, with complicated patterns composed of shapes and lines that are scratched and drawn, faces, hands, and bodies, appear and disappear. Sometimes, all we see is a space waiting for another incumbent. The figures, often crowded, twist, hide, and turn upside down.
This exhibition is rather special, it di ers from all her other shows in that it deals with very particular works that demonstrate the artist’s exceptional techniques with the use of materials. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the publication of a monograph about her life, thought and work by Nick Wadley. On looking at her art carefully and thinking about it, we soon see that Franciszka’s pictorial world is far from obvious. It could be both tragic and funny. We can’t be sure. She invites the viewer to interpret her works.
We are enormously excited to be able to bring such a unique and personal insight into Franciszka Themerson’s art to a London audience. We are thrilled that our first exhibition after the Foundation’s pandemic-related hiatus is taking place in London, where Franciszka lived and worked for most of her life.
was born in Warsaw 1907, lived in Paris 1938–40, and then, from 1940, lived in London until her death in 1988. She was principally a painter, although, throughout her life, she worked in several other fields of the visual arts. Active in London, from 1940 on, she became a part of the British art scene. She collaborated with her husband, the writer Stefan Themerson, on experimental films, illustrated books for children which he wrote, and in 1948 she founded with him the avant-garde publishing company Gaberbocchus Press, of which she was the art director. Apart from appearing in many journals worldwide, several collections of her drawings have been published as books: The Way It Walks, 1954; Traces of Living, 1969; Franciszka Themerson, London 1941–42, 1987; The Drawings of Franciszka Themerson, 1991; Nick Wadley, Franciszka Themerson, 2019. Her design for the theatre, which included productions of Ubu Roi, Ubu Enchainé and Threepenny Opera, was exhibited at the National Theatre in 1993.
Her major solo exhibitions include those at Gallery One in 1957 and 1959; Drian Galleries, 1963; Zach&ta, Warsaw, 1964; New Gallery, Belfast, 1966; Demarco, Edinburgh, 1968; Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1975; Gruenebaum, New York, 1978; Lodz¬, Warsaw, Wroc)aw, 1981–82; Nordjyllands Kunstmusum, Aalborg, 1991; Gardner Centre, University of Sussex, 1992; Gda¬sk, 1993; Redfern Gallery, 1993; National Theatre, 1993; Festival Hall, London, 1993; Imperial War Museum, London, 1996; Galeria Kordegarda, Warsaw, 1998; Art First, London, 1998 and 2001; GV Art, London, 2013; l’étrangère, London, 2016; Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, 2017; ‘a¬nia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gda¬sk, 2019.
Curator: JASIA REICHARDT
is a writer on art and an exhibition organiser. She was born in Poland, educated in England, and has lived in London most of her life. She was Assistant Director of the ICA in London, 1963–71, and Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1974–76. She has taught at the Architectural Association for 10 years, and other colleges, written many articles, several books, and served on various boards and committees. She is interested in art that encroaches on other fields, be it science or literature, and has spent many years following up the connections between art and technology. After Franciszka
and Stefan Themerson died in 1988, she spent many years looking after their work, their exhibitions, and their archive. Together with Nick Wadley, she edited the 3-volume catalogue of their archive, designed by Pedro Cid Proença, which was recently published by the MIT Press.