Jan Chwałczyk (1924) is a painter, sculptor, creator of the kinetic installations and mail art. He is a leading representative of the Polish neo-avant-garde. In 1962-1976 he was a member of the Wroclaw Group, and in 1972-1977 he ran the Art of Creative Information Gallery in Wroclaw. An artist interested mainly in the issues of light and colour, and the relationship between the art and science.
Chwałczyk was born in Krosno and studied in the State Higher School for Fine Arts in 1946-1951 in Wroclaw, where he acquired a painting diploma in prof. Eugeniusz Geppert’s laboratory. In the 1950s Chwałczyk created paintings in a manner close to informel, taking an inspiration from nature. In 1955 he took part in the Arsenal Exhibition of Young Fine Artists in Warsaw. From 1957 to 1963 he co-organised the Searching for Form and Colour group, and from 1962 to 1976 – Wroclaw Group. In 1963-1964 he started to practice structural painting, treating the picture as an object, not just a composition. Later he got closer to the kinetic art, starting from the First Biennale of Spatial Forms in Elbląg in 1965, and an Artists’ and Scientists’ Symposium in Puławy one year later.
Since the second half of the 1960s Chwałczyk’s main interests are the light and colour, which was represented on his individual exhibition Portraits and Autoportraits in 1969 in the Under Mona Lisa Gallery ran by Jerzy Lidwiński. Objects created by the artist were reflecting light, falling on different surfaces, and creating various shadows and colours, depending on shape and material. The famous project of the Solar Spectrum Projector – presented by Chwałczyk during the Wroclaw 1970 Symposium – was the concept of a device streaming the solar light in different colours onto certain points of Wroclaw. The same year, during the Artists’, Scientists’ and Art Theoreticians’ Symposium in Osieki, the artist presented another project: the Colourful Configuration of the Spatial Light Transformation, which was supposed to create a portrait of the light in the audience consciousness. Chwałczyk tried to capture the physical features of the light and colour, research their properties as phenomena which enable seeing. Such approach situated him within the op-art stream and on the border of “impossible art”.
In the 1970s Chwałczyk got interested in the influence that art has on the society. He also actively participated in the international net of mail art creators by running in 1972-1977 the Art of Creative Information Gallery – a node in the net of letters’ exchange, artistic prints, and other documents. Chwałczyk initiated the international artistic actions, such as International Artist Cooperation in 1967-1969, Defending the Mental Sphere in 1972-1973, and Counterpoint in 1972-1974. In the frame of the latter one Chwałczyk gathered 68 speeches of the Polish and foreign artists, focusing on the current situation and the future development of art.
Chwałczyk participated in the most important events of the Polish conceptual art: symposiums of the Golden Bunch in Zielona Góra, Biennale of Spatial Forms in Elbląg, symposium in Puławy, outdoor panels in Osieki, as well as the Wroclaw 1970 Visual Arts Symposium, where he coordinated the execution of a project The Unlimited, Vertical Composition of Henryk Stażewski. He also took part in the Biennale in São Paulo in 1981. In 2006 he received the Prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and in 2011 – the Silver Medal for the Meritious for Culture Gloria Artis.
Show on map
- Krosno County, Krosno, Poland
Date of death
Author(s) of this page
- Stanczyk, Xawery