Jan Lenica Heiri Ste in er Jan Lenica, one of Poland's leading artists, is today well known in the West. After giving up his musical studies in favour of architecture in 1947, at the age of nineteen, he had his first one-man exhibition of graphic art in Warsaw in 1948. Satirical draw ings of his had appeared in Szpilki as early as 1945. He did his first poster in 1950 and taught poster art in Warsaw from 1954 to 1956. In the same period he helped to plan Polish stands and pavilions at international fairs. Turning to the cartoon film, he shared the Silver Lion of the 1957 Venice Biennale for his Once Upon a Time and in the same year won the Grand Prix at the Brussels World Fair with the film Dom. Since then Lenica's films have brought him regular awards. He has also written and illustrated a number of children's books and is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale. An earlier article on his work appeared in Graphis 87. - Editor 1)—4) Curtain and three settings for Yolimbaa musical farce by Wilhelm Killmayer, first performed in Wiesbaden in 1964. It is as though we saw, through a glass darkly, mute and deformed angels, waiting in a strange disguise for a chance to return to earth. We witness the scene from the wrong side, as though through some hidden peep-holean inexplicable, perplexing pantomime that is some how deeply familiar. The figures hop, the limbs are articulated in jerky movements. Enormously enlarged insects crawl past and look beyond us with their huge, faceted eyes. Rank plant growths, rounded and soft as the flesh of snails masks, leering faces, stones in which we see ghostly featureswide, unseeing eyesbared brains that have turned to steel. A quaking panopticum, now black, now white, flapping about our eyes. The limbs dissolve from the figures and reform in new, unreasoning patterns. A mechanistic reorganization transforms the biotope. Jan Lenica was already well known when he first left his native Poland, some years ago, to visit France and England. We were astonished to note how effectively he had caught our attention and sympathies with his posters and drawings. Lenica's world is now in movement. The brush-stroke is no longer perceptible. The large-scale poster has made way for the film montage. The picture expands on every side towards the invisible. The elements are superimposed to produce brief, even trivial associations which simultaneously provoke unforeseeable reactions a woodcut of a pointing hand, an angular figure composed of cut or torn scraps of drawings, crushed potato cuts, men with moustaches and top hats in a conventional woodcut style. 'I instinctively sensed in the film a means of stepping up my imagina tive powers, that's why I began to make films.' Lenica regards his films as a continuation of the satirical drawings with which he made his first public appearance in Szpilki at the age of seventeen. He makes no use of the drawing movements to which we are accustomed from conven tional cartoon films. His figures obey other, non physiological laws, as though the movements of several autonomous drawings met in his films in a sort of fugue. We are confronted here by Lenica the musician, which by training he is. The forms, movements and rhythms of his pictures embody functions 240 Photo Jea ;ip S •iBkvrs

Graphis de | 1965 | | page 68