Succession, 1989

Hong Kong 2015
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Acrylic on canvas
Julian Stanczak Succession, 1989 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 60 inches 152.4 x 152.4 cm After a childhood fraught with struggle and self-preservation in his native Poland and travelling with the Polish Army in Exile through India and Africa, a young Julian Stanczak arrived in London in 1948 to study painting and drawing. By 1950 he and his family had moved to Cleveland where he continued his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1953 Stanczak went to Washington, DC to see a Paul Klee exhibition at the Phillips Gallery. The intense color and formal qualities in Klee’s work served as a touch-stone for Stanczak’s maturing work. His acceptance the following year to the Yale University art program studying under Josef Albers focused his artistic concerns: his theories on the use of color and his compositional structure. Stanczak’s highly defined and sensitive practice is best summed up by the artist himself. As he has written, “The environment provides the raw energy that has to be translated into entities separate from nature. When I see the dramatic shapes and colors of nature, observe their power, it triggers in me the need to translate these primordial forces.” After he prepares his canvas, “the second step is the choice of colors, their strength, their weight, and their interaction within certain dimensions and shapes in relation to the overall size of the canvas.” (“Julian Stanczak: a Retrospective, 1948-1998,” the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, 1998, p. 22) Stanczak’s meticulously crafted balance between the weight of the rendered line and the artist’s unerring color choice creates compositions of incredible clarity and perceptual abstraction. As is clear from Stanczak’s words above, his goal was not to merely twist the eye with optical calisthenics but instead evoke an abstracted memory of nature, landscape or, as the artist phrased it, a relationship “that would run parallel to man’s experience with reality.” (p. 33) Elizabeth McClelland summed up Stanczak’s overarching concerns when she wrote: “Color is Stanczak’s persona. Color absorbs him; it is his means of communication and may concern natural phenomena, a place, an event or simply the glory of color itself.” (“Julian Stanczak: a Retrospective, 1948-1998,” the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, 1998, p. 33)