Marian Szpakowski’s flat and studio were located at Wyspiańskiego 40 Street in Zielona Góra. You can see the address on the back of some of his paintings. It’s a nice neighborhood. Clearly the authorities of that time put a lot of effort into building this modern, spacious and newly Polish part of the city, next to its old, post-German part. Not much has changed since Szpakowski lived there – there are small multifamily residential buildings, a public swimming pool, sports school, athletics stadium, and a community center.
Szpakowski came to Zielona Góra from Kraków, straight from university. Partly because his professor, Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa, urged him to go. She saw him as a skilfull organizer ready to start building an art scene in the Recovered Territories. But there was also the case of a petty crime he committed under the influence of alcohol – nothing major or even worth mentioning, but a good reason to flee and avoid possible responsibility. And so like many other Poles at that time, in 1954 Szpakowski went to scout around a city with a new Polish name, not knowing that he would put roots down there, meet his future wife, have a child, and make a career.
Szpakowski was extremely versatile. He was an urban designer, created shop windows, brought the local community to life, ran BWA Zielona Góra (he also made the relief on the gallery’s facade), was the commissioner of the Złote Grono biennial. But he considered himself first and foremost a painter. He worked on the periphery of a peripheral country, but had shows abroad, traveled to London and Switzerland.
At the gallery we exhibit a selection of works representing his entire artistic career; starting with early post-impressionist painterly experiments, moving swiftly to darker, monochromatic, abstract paintings created in late 50s and early 60s, in the spirit of matterism. In the mid-1960s Szpakowski suddenly turned towards geometric abstraction. Some works from that period are more dynamic, filled with forms and shapes scathingly described by other artists as “flying coffins”, some more minimals but emotionally charged, such as his relief compositions. We will present them along small-scale abstract experiments with colored plexiglass, as well as the artist’s last works from the beginning of the 1980s.