Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism.
Beksiński was most for the three phases his art went through:
- He began in photography, experimenting with objects and techniques in a manner that would offend the Straight Photography sensibilities of the era by applying artistic expression to the art-form. Photographing silhouettes, using props and staged figures, cropping the frame and a whole host of other creative decisions that would lead critics to refer to it as "anti-photography.
- His most famous phase was when he moved to painting. While Beksiński had no formal training as an artist, he was a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Kraków Polytechnic with MSc received in 1952. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints. His most famous paintings belonged to the Fantastic series; a series of Fantastic Realist portraits and landscapes set in an almost post-apocalyptic setting ripe of symbols and nightmarish imagery.
- In the later part of the 1990s, he discovered computers, the Internet, digital photography and photo manipulation, a medium that he focused on until his death.
He died 21 February 2005 in Warsaw, Poland, having accidentally been stabbed by Robert Kupiec, the teenage son of his longtime caretaker, over a dispute involving a few hundred złoty (approximately $100 in America). A museum would open in dedication to him in Sanok, Poland and a Beksiński museum housing 50 paintings and 120 drawings from the Dmochowski collection (who owns the biggest private collection of Beksiński's art) opened in 2006 in the City Art Gallery of Częstochowa, Poland. On 18 May 2012 with the participation of Minister of Regional Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska and others took place ceremonial opening of The New Gallery of Zdzisław Beksiński in the rebuilt wing of the castle. On 19 May 2012 The New Gallery has been opened for the public. A 'Beksiński cross', in the characteristic T-shape frequently employed by the artist, was installed for Burning Man the same year of his death.
His official online store is linked here.
Tropes found in Zdzisław Beksiński and his work:
- Camera Fiend: Though he quickly dropped photography as a tool of artistic expression, he was fascinated by it and often filmed random family events with a handheld camera. The resulting recordings are a veritable log of his daily life.
- Eccentric Artist: A downplayed example, but he was rather aloof when it came to his works, often refusing to explain any of his work. He also didn't like people who assumed him to be some sort of counter-cultural mystic on the basis of his paintings, because he really wasn't and they made their opinion without knowing him first.
- In terms of personality, he's remembered as a bit of, to put it in trope terms, a cross between Perky Goth and Nightmare Fetishist — a nice, jovial fellow who just paints these creepy pictures and says creepy things with a big, goofy smile on his face.
- Meat Moss: The Trope Maker. His "Fantastic" series is full of Womb Level elements and Human Architecture Horror, depicting either living figures melting into an architectural form or architecture that looks like it was naturally formed out of bone and flesh.
- Sci-Fi Horror: Alongside H. R. Giger, Zdzisław Beksiński is considered by many to be a Trope Codifier for Science Horror, or at least is very influential towards the visual aesthetic of the genre. Confirmed influences include other creators like Guillermo del Toro and Wayne Barlowe, to specific works like The Medium, Scorn and Stranger Things.
- Surrealism: While not a member of the original art movement of the name, his work falls under the general idea of applying dream-logic — or as others would say, nightmares — into the form of landscapes, portraits and still-lives.
- "Untitled" Title: While he did title some of his earlier photographic work, he declined in titling any of his paintings or digital art pieces later in life, thinking that giving them titles would be applying unnecessary details.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: While his work is drowning in recurring symbols and potential interpretation, Beksiński refused to confirm any reading of his work, citing that if he had anything profound he would want to talk about, he would just say it or write it down. This is said to be the reason why he wouldn't put titles on his work, believing that titling them would force his paintings into a metaphorical box.