Navigation path

eu calender
What's in it for me?
Europe in the UK
The commissioners
EP in the UK
Franciszka Themerson, A European Artist
E-mail this pageE-mail this pagePrintPrint

20 February – 8 March 2013

The works in this exhibition follow the career of Franciszka Themerson from her ‘rebirth’ as a painter in London of the mid-1940s, until shortly before her death in 1988. After graduating with distinction from Warsaw Academy in 1930, she had spent the next decade collaborating with her husband Stefan (poet, philosophical novelist) as key catalysts in a small but vitally experimental film-making avant-garde. They also earned a living from the production of a string of remarkable books for children – his writing, her drawings.

    Franciszka Themerson, A European Artist

    In 1938 they had moved to Paris to further their careers only to be overtaken by the onset of World War II. Like their whole European generation, their lives and careers were broken apart, reduced to an uncertain existence on shifting sands. Nothing was stable or reasonable. It is clear from her letters during two years of separation, 1940-42 – long self-questioning and deeply-moving soliloquies, many of them unsent – that she doubts she will ever make art again. But, re-united in 1942 they picked themselves up, made two more films with the Polish Film Unit in London, and founded what became arguably the most important post-war avant-garde imprint in England, Gaberbocchus Press. And she started to draw and paint again.

    These fifteen remarkable paintings are all from the Themerson Estate. In their range of date and of manners, they give a rich picture of her mature art. While bearing clear affinities to the mainstream of  European, post-Cubist art they unfold a highly personal account of her view of the world around her, touched with her dry, Polish humour and open-ended enough for us to read into them our own allusions to the world’s comedies and tragedies, to the everyday and/or the universal.

    They are remarkable, too, for their obvious roots in the narrative and graphic habits of a great, natural illustrator – full of drawing.  Less predictably perhaps, they also carry echoes of the layered, translucent and shifting world of film, in which she’d spent the 1930s. They are moving pictures.

    Nick Wadley

    12 Star Gallery 
    The 12 Star Gallery is located at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU and shows work which celebrates the creativity and cultural diversity that is the hallmark of the European Union. The gallery is open from 10am-6pm, Monday to Friday.

    Related Links

    Last update: 19/09/2013  |Top