Mirosaw Koprowski   »

Landscape painting has a long beautiful tradition in Poland. It developed as an independent phenomenon at the time when the Young Poland art flourished. Then for a long time it was an area of artistically important expression. It yielded the rise of the Cracovian school of landscape painting and numerous works of such artists as Jan Stanisławski and a considerable group of his talented students which included: Stanisław Czajkowski, Stefan Filipkiewicz, Stanisław Kamocki, Henryk Szczygliński and many others. It was successfully continued in the course of the 20th century.

Mirek Koprowski’s painting follows this tradition. Most of his paintings take the realistic form, though sometimes the plane of a painting is covered by an expressionist colourful layer; now and again the motives typical of metaphysical symbolism appear.

Landscape is not an easy genre. Artists who are keen on the conventions mentioned above should have the skill of synthesis of the image of nature and its mood with the spare use of formal means of expression. Realistic roots and unpretentiousness, simplicity in capturing the subject must be supported by mature craftsmanship. In his search Mirek Koprowski creates harmonious works, based on form and colour, being a result of the combination of painting sensitivity and knowledge originating from direct observation.

The term painting en plein air has specific meaning when referred to the creative activity of the artist from Lodz. It is not only the scenery painting - fragments of nature contemplated from the distance, even though admired. It is that pretentious susceptibility to capture what is romantic, moving and melancholic. The affirmative attitude towards nature disclosed in Mirek Koprowski’s works results from the fact that the author is personally active in the mountains; he climbs there. The close contact with the power of nature brings in his respect and worship for its beauty.

The imagery motives are mainly fragments of frayed mountain massifs, sometimes a chosen top of a mountain, the Tatra forest, a mountain lake. The paintings are characterized by strong emotional charge and suggestive interpretation of nature. It is where the artist’s fascination with mountains is revealed, mountains captured through the prism of emotion and mood. The painter acutely observes their changeability and preserves in the views of his favourite scenery. He expresses the power of natural forces subject to recurrent changes, he releases the power of elements conjured into rock, he succumbs to the pantheistical understanding and adoration of the world.

Appealing to the motive of triptych in painting, the form he sometimes adopts to capture some motives, could lead to the aspect of the subject sacralization. The Tatras used to be regarded as the land not spoilt by the touch of civilization. Today in some paintings the view of perishing trees strongly accentuated in the first plan, against the background of the everlasting mountain massifs, ‘sounds’ rather bitter. These works, though personal, unintentionally become interventionist in their character.

It seems as if the author treated each of his works as a fragment of a bigger whole. As a result he thoroughly frames every picture. They are usually remote areas covered by ranges of mountain tops not to be easily observed by viewers. The artist also uses close plans, he chooses untypical perspectives - they come from truly experienced situations, real encounters, sometimes from the direct contact. In the lowland landscapes, made for example on the outskirts of Lodz, the horizon is usually placed in a high position; paths, bands of rails and tractions head for the horizon.

In the mountains, the view of an imagery space from a raised point of observation broadens the horizon of the viewer, it enables to build up compositional plans. Under the vastness of the sky - presented as in a closeup - the austere majestic monoliths coexist with clouds in silence, they yield to confrontation in the dramatic theatre of nature. Frayed laces of clouds overlap dark spots of the consolidated rocky ridge. Their static and unemotional character disturbs the smooth trace of the brush. Dramatic expression of heavy forms which evoke mystical silence, hardly visible from behind the night clouds, the light of moon brought to life by spray paint, sometimes build the mood saturated with romantic elements.

The world featured in some works is enriched by varied - though derivative - forms which rush into the logical familiar space. They endow the composition with symbolic dimension, sometimes related to the author’s personal, intimate experience. The paintings consolidating the power of the elementary forces of nature into one limitless cosmic unity have particularly symbolic expression.

The opposite category comprises the works in which the realistic value was forgotten on behalf of juxtaposition of colourful planes. Then the sketchy and laconic feature of the forms of nature is close to abstraction. Sometimes creatures of nature hardly disclose their presence. In some works contours of objects get blurred, they lose their concrete expression, they get lost in the atmosphere of the ink-like sky and create romantic nocturnes dominated by dark, almost monochromatic colours.

Thanks to the painter’s direct perception of the physical character of the mountains, in Mirek Koprowski’s paintings colour, light and textures are very credible, though some compositions seem to be infeasible. The works make us aware of how subtle and resourceful the very nature is.

Almost expressive, saturated colours, strong contrasts of light and shade are often justified by real, fantastic phenomena of nature. Many times we can observe something like a reversed colour perspective, like in the situation when various blues of the foreground would direct our attention to - sunk in yellows and warm reds, lighted up with punctual, though quite wide light - distant landscapes; some mountain peaks exposed in this way become the actual first plan subject of the works.

Portraying nature at different times of the day and at different seasons results in paintings in which the artist tends to capture the rhythm and mood of nature, canvases with a varied palette of colours (the scale of greens or blues, yellows fighting against violets, non-realistic blazing reds). There are also versions of works exposing the same pictorial motive, yet captured in another colour and light entourage.

The artist depicts the beauty of nature with great sensitivity. He tenderly interprets colour, he skillfully expresses the subtlety of lights, emphasises the decorative line and colour daub. Some of Mirek Koprowski’s paintings are characterised by strong brave contrasts. In this way the author reaches not only illustrative, but also strong expressive effect, which turns out to be the greatest value of the paintings.

A similar approach is used by the artist as far as his still lifes go. Like in the mountain sceneries he emphasizes different kinds of the matter, juxtaposes what is fragile and solid, long-lasting and transient, mobile and static. He makes paintings in which objects reveal their phenomenal presence due to unaggressive lighting coming from behind transparent objects, but also such paintings in which aggressive, colourful images of things are shown in full illumination. Then it becomes clear how fascinating the study of mutual relations between colour, light and space can be.

Stagnant objects spotted in the darkness become alive in a way. They are multiplied and the space is broadened thanks to light reflections and permeance. Space and light, not an object’s appearance, become the basic issue here. We get involved in the play of colours, textures and shapes - creating the depth of space and its character, and not objects in space. The space is really brought into existence by objects, they create and organize it.

Let us return to the main subject of Mirek Koprowski’s interests. In the Young Poland landscape painting art used to be an imagery equivalent of the ‘internal landscape’ - the artist’s soul. To some extent it might be true about the painter from Lodz. His works are the expression of the profound emotional enchantment with the beauty of the Tatra landscape, whose vitality is captured in an expressive form. The artist sees the reflection of metaphysical matter in them; he perceives the spirit of freedom and the power of nature. Man does not directly appear in this mountain scenery.

A human being exists somewhere in the background only as a potential climber, also as a creator, who tries to capture its complexity and beauty. Sometimes human presence is only testified by a treaded path, a frail trace which is soon going to be covered up by snow or blown off by a gust of the mountain wind.

Dariusz Le¶nikowski

Transl. Elżbieta Rodzeń-Le¶nikowska