Untitled – Zdzislaw Beksinski

I have a completely visual mind. This means I dream in colour and very vividly. I remember a lot of the dreams I have in the few hours sleep I get, and disappointingly they are usually ultra realistic and while I really wish Tom Hardy would pop in to them, I’m usually stuck with someone like Danny Trejo.

Beksinski’s work ranges from the nightmarish to post apocalyptic in its tone and pallet, which can often disturb and intrigue audiences at the same time. Born in Poland, Beksinski was best known as a painter, but he was also a photographer, graphic designer, sculpted and illustrator. While his art may seem dark and foreboding, Beksinski was known to have a good sense of humour and an optimistic outlook. He was quoted to have said “What matters is what appears in your soul, not what your eyes see and what you can name”, and this is what he painted.

Beksinski had no formal artistic training, but had trained in architecture and technical sciences. When he painted he used oil on hardboard which he prepped himself and he refused to give his art titles, or really interpret any meaning, stating that he himself didn’t know the meaning of his art and he was uninterested in anyone else’s interpretation. His work is amazingly detailed, and during his “Fantastic period” he created the majority of his most well known pieces which shows images of death, decay, skeletal/deformed figures on deconstructed landscapes. Despite how his images appeared, Beksinski felt that there was some optimism to his paintings, but also said that he wanted his work to appear as if he was photographing a dream.

In the late 90’s tragedy hit for Beksinski when his wife died, and then a year later his son committed suicide. Then in 2005 Beksinski was murdered, stabbed in his Warsaw apartment by a 19 year old male that he knew and had refused to lend money to. His loss to the art world is marked, but his legacy lives on. Not a day goes by that I don’t see his work posted on Facebook or in an art forum, as it touches viewers still.

So, despite the fact that Beksinski would be uninterested in my interpretation of this painting, I’m still going to give it anyway.

We see a feminine form, reclining on a dark crumpled material which in its shape looks almost floral or tree like. The face of the woman is somewhat deformed, almost skeletal in its features with the eyes covered by a sheer material, the material I would add that surrounds her, dragging her in to the dream like state. Her hands grasping into what looks like a stream of petrified hands, dragging her in to what she is being blinded too. While I have said that this is a woman, due to the curve of her breast on show and the shapely hips, there is a possibility of the figure being androgynous, with the sex appearing bulbous.  This could be an indication of sexuality having no meaning in the world in which Beksinski creates.

I love the contrast of colour used between the figure and the material, almost defining the living world to the dreamstate that surrounds. In the background we can see a clouded sky with a break, which in other paintings I would possibly attribute to a hint at some religious belief, but with the surreal overtones of this painting, this could equally indicate a break in the usual mind activity to give way to the sleepzone.

For me, this painting swings back around to disturbed sleep, nightmarish dreams hidden within an encasement of a beautifully disturbed resting place. The colour and tone elevating the work to ethereal realms.

This picture brings to mind a quote from Edgar Allan Poe:-

“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.”

If you want to see more of Beksinki’s art, you can find it here.

What do you see in this piece? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?


5 thoughts on “Untitled – Zdzislaw Beksinski

Add yours

  1. Another mini tour de force . Thanks again for another insightful perspective Mrs Cranky!
    The cloth looks like it has been dipped in cement around the body bet as it drapes over the body it puts me in mind of the statue of “modesty”. Love your description of the hands. Your linking of Poe’s poetry made me smile.
    Brilliant. Thank you…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I happened upon your site from a little web meander. I followed a thread, was introduced to the works of Zdzislaw Beksinski, and found myself here. Thanks for the exploration of the painting.

    Interesting… despite the darkness of the painting, I see a woman struggling to come OUT of the darkness – still wary about what she is moving into – and being lent support and strength by the hands of ancestors and those that came before. I am definitely no “pollyanna”, but maybe I see reflected my own struggle to come from constraint and confusion into greater clarity and freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

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