The main aim of organizing Bronisław Wojciech Linke Retrospective was to recall, as far as possible, his extremely original work and the facts from his tragic life. Although he has been absent for 59 years, the artist is still fresh, up-to-date and important for contemporary Polish and European art. The work of one of the greatest and most tragic masters of Polish contemporary painting still needs to be remembered – it has been too eagerly closed off and forgotten by art history. Perhaps this is because the artist has never fitted in with any group, current or tendency, he has always been an outsider and this is how he has remained. He was an outsider by choice and character.
Linke – a painter of symbolic metaphors in the paradise of omnibus socialist realism – has retained his characteristic grotesque-fantastic style. Using symbolic convention, he sharply condemned capitalism and fascism. He did not join the transformations of Polish art after the Arsenal of 1955 and the Thaw of 1956, remaining unmoved by the novelties from behind the Iron Curtain and resisting the temptations of the avant-garde. He was an outstanding pioneer of the fantastic trend in Polish contemporary art. He was original and consistent throughout his life to the once chosen creative path. The artist worked in two ways. For himself and, as one might assume, for the future, he painted his oil paintings in the privacy of his studio, to which no one had access. There he produced The Sea of Blood and Autobus, White Head, as well as other canvases. There, too, he carried out his maximum plan, the master work, usually in solitude.
The second track of his work, much broader and richer, were works of smaller format, usually approximating an A4 sheet of paper: pen or pencil drawings, often supplemented by painting applications. This was paid work, invariably executed at the highest artistic level, perfectly composed, but intended for print, for newspapers, weeklies, monthlies. A work of everyday use which was in circulation sometimes for a day, most often for a week. Referring to the current political situation, usually in the world, rarely in the country, using caricature and grotesque. Often with a commentary printed under the drawing. It is these works, numbering in the hundreds, that most need to be recalled and systematized and appropriately placed in the scope of his entire oeuvre. These are drawings and prints, watercolors and gouaches published in the pre-war press, works from the Lvov period, the postwar portfolio Kamienie krzyczą, book illustrations, and above all, press drawings. Also presented at the exhibition and in the accompanying album are archival magazine pages from the 1940s and 1950s with full-page drawings by Linke, book illustrations, as well as a collection of sketchbooks and personal documents, such as a copy of his birth certificate from Dorpat, Estonia, a letter from Wanda Wasilewska, or his service card from Orsk, where he was exiled. They will be shown for the first time. The Retrospective is an enormous collection of 250 works, on loan from 12 museums across the country and from private collections, covering all periods of creativity, all disciplines, and all themes. Since Linke’s first posthumous Retrospective at the National Museum in Warsaw in 1963, this is the most extensive presentation of the artist’s work. The exhibition will be accompanied by a screening of films about the work of Bronislaw Wojciech Linke, and a monographic album-catalogue.