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.