Bogusław Deptuła

Blue Town

"Experience proves that individual colours provoke specific moods (...) To fully appreciate their effect it is necessary to envelop the eye by just one single colour, for example through presence in a mono-coloured room or peering through a mono-coloured piece of glass. Only then does man indentify himself with the colour which tunes in with the eye art Spirit in uni­son". Goethe in "Teachings of Colours" was the first to so strongly emphasize the psychologi­cal aspect of the perception of optics. His work was contagious, although perhaps not entirely founded on debate with Newton and physical concept of optics and in particular chromatics.

Dwurnik, in his latest series painted over a period of two years, proposes taking Goethe’s course. That is, to tune in both the eye and spirith unison and submerge oneself completely in blue, or rather in the riches of blue towns where the artist has chosen to completely ignore black and white in their purest form. Only one colour is of importance. A colour both darkest and most intensive which in itself, without the addition of black (laid to cover), may give analmost absolute black. Diluted almost entirely it becomes the purest of whites. One could risk staling that blue possesses the highest dramatic value of all colours. And it has something else - a noble quality reflected in the fact that it does not weary as other colours. And although per­haps it does not weary as other colours, and although it may lose out to the peace green con­jures let us not forget that it is thanks to blue green exists.

As Dwurnik's latest paintings prove, the world of blue may become one that is self-suffi­cient. Earlier, for in 1970, "The Blue County" ("Błękitny powiat") from the series "Plaster Landscapes" ("Gipsowy plener") was painted in ultra-marine. But just then obviously even Dwurnik himself needed two gold heads which in accordance with the rules of painting were to balance this unexpected triumph of blues. Later there repeatedly appeared mono-chromatic works painted in greys or blues. They were however individual works. A more consistent nar­rowing of colours to blues, yellows and greens was achieved in the series "Blue" ("Błękitne"). Roughly one hundred records on the moods of the seas Finally confirmed the self sufficiency of works painted as though "on camaiou". In the 18th century this technique had its own mas­ters and masterpieces, but was commonly associated with artistic panneaux decorating archi­tecture or painted porcelain and furniture. Although Goethe used this term, today in order to avoid any association with the applied arts it is better to describe these paintings as mono­chromatic.


When the palette is limited so drastically each quiver of colour, each shade gains in mean­ing. The two primary pigments in Dwurnik's paintings are Prussian blue (sometimes called Parisian or Berlin) and ultra-marine. Apart from that sometimes touches of cerulean, the colour of a strangely unruffled sky on a bright day (e.g. in the view of Zurich) and of course white favouring light. There is no black as such, but of course that may be achieved through the application of thick layers of Parisian blue as in the painting with a view of London. For­mally speaking green is absent from these paintings, but may emerge as a result of ultra­marine and Prussian blue next to each other, green appearing far warmer and dirtier in the face of frigid ultra-marine.


In ancient painting blue determined the most important colour on the palette. Due to the fact it was extremely expensive because it was made from powdered semi precious lazulite its use was restricted to the most important parts ofthe painting, as for example Mary's cape. In accor­dance with Cennino Cennini's recommendations the artist had a duty to pay particular atten­tion and ensure that blue, like gold, "turned out particularly brilliantly". This was a characteris­tic Middle Ages stance for the Italian trecento. In the coming century the paintings of Bellini, Carpaccio, Botticelli blues lose their enamel weight and gather a bright lightness. Eventually Leonardo defined the use of colour for anything else but naturalistic and atmospheric applica­tion which in particular pertain to blue. He ultimately codified the perspective of air colours which intuitively but with success had been applied by 15th century Dutch artists in accor­dance with the general observation that landscapes lost their marked details at a distance. In his empirical reflections Leonardo forgot, or chose to omit, the aspects of expression, psychology and symbolics. That Goethe was unable to avoid.


Fairly quickly towns entered the canon of subjects for European painting. Unfortunately there exist few masterpieces. Towns as individual subjects of art, not yet modern, appear in Sionio by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. To begin with as a background for the huge fresco illustrating "Good and Evil". Shortly later as much smaller paintings of fragments from the world map which once hung in the Sienna Signori and which portrayed the fort and town surrounded by a wall and castle by the bay. Both views are taken from the top at a forty five degree angleand in such a manner that the sky is not in the least visible. Apart from that they are quite empty, void of people. Dating back to the 15th century are three views "Ideal Towns" the artists of which have not been identified. They undoubtedly originated in Urbino circles under the patronage of Count da Montefeltre. In the 17th century painting found a permanent nichc for itself in north­ern art. Certainly the most beautiful and unsurpassable in its realism remains Vermeer's "View of Delphi". Finally in the 18th ccntury it is possible to call great art. Creative then is the Roman classicist Pannini and the Viennese Canaletto, Belotto and the most subtle of all Francesco Guardi. Towards the end of the 19th century the element of towns becomes a fre­quent subject for the Impressionists Pissarro and Monet. For the Expressionists towns arc nothing more than places of evil. "Metropolis" by George Grosz, a moloch of a town, inflamed by human passions is now nothing more than a contemporary version of Hell.

The artists'perception of towns rolled over the course set out by Gocthcin "Faust", "from heaven through earth to hell". Blue, like other colours, may hold many symbolic meanings. It is the deepest of all colours. Our observation floats across an infinite horizon. As simultane­ously unadulterated and coolest it stands amidst all other colours furthest away from reality. Kandinsky described blue as "tying man to infinity but releasing from within him the need for- purity and a wanting for the supernatural". Eyes lifted to the heavens irrevocably turn to a godly being most certainly obscured behind boundless billows of blue. In its self immaterial, blue dematerializes everything it envelopes. For that reason the rematerialized blue, heavenly towns by Dwurnik rise above the original "Invisible Towns" ("Niewidzialnych miast") by Italo Calvino in shape and likeness. They both areand are not what they are. That which is painted, or perhapsthat which was the model of the blue version of Venice, Warsaw or Vienna was only a necessary springboard to leap higher. To break the bonds. With blue it is a little like finding oneself on the other side of the mirror, where almost everything appears possible, where sleep governs.


Similarly to the lack of people who could stir the greyish blue peace of "an ideal town" on the famous table from Urbino, Dwurnik's series of paintings are completely void of people. The artist claims people spoil everything as they force change to proportions. They have been replaced by automobiles which appear in many paintings. They introduce a disturbance and the appearance of life. I am not certain that they arc entirely necessary. Perhaps only to inter­rupt an intimate seduction by the blue aura of pcace, spiritual exaltation and infinity. In Dwurnik's version of "an ideal town" heads, so characteristic for his paintings appear on the empty square. They stir the harmony, doubt the eternity of ideal order implying a past, perhaps a bloody or stormy history. Et in Arcadia ego.

The world of human towns docs not correspond to the heavenly order of immortal towns. Builders of the blue towns perceive their order in the stars. They make plans, build, paint knowing that they will never be able to set foot in them. Nobody in life becomes a citizen of blue. One cannot live in Utopia.