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Exhibition Talk

Tomorrow Was a Montage: Exhibition Talk by Andrzej Klimowski

Please join us at the Exhibition Talk by Andrzej Klimowski on Thursday 19 November 2015 from 6 - 7pm in Cooper Gallery.

Exhibition Talk by Andrzej Klimowski
Thursday 19 November 2015, 6 - 7pm

Tomorrow Was a Montage
30 October - 18 December 2015

Collage, a form of juxtaposition, surprise, shock and playfulness

In this talk, graphic artist and designer Andrzej Klimowski will discuss the practice of collage as a prevalent method used in Polish graphic art and design throughout the twentieth century, reflecting on the works of artists in Tomorrow Was a Montage and their contemporaries in the Polish Poster School.

As a working method collage enables artists to arrive at provocative solutions to themes that address intellectual as well as artistic themes. The process of juxtaposing disparate elements and realities can keep work fresh and vital.

Roman Cieslewicz was a master of this form, moving from collaging old engravings echoing the work of Max Ernst and the Russian Constructivists, to the manipulation of contemporary photographic imagery. Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk took their collage techniques from graphic design into animation and experimental film raising the importance of free association and stream of consciousness. Even the more painterly designer Henryk Tomaszewski, built his designs through collaging painted elements and typographic forms. His students at the Academy followed his example which allowed for constant re-examing of design solutions.

Photos from Andrzej Klimowski's Exhibition Talk. Photos: Kathryn Rattray 2015


Andrzej Klimowski studied painting at St Martin's School of Art in London and graphic design at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland under professor Henryk Tomaszewski. From 1973-1980 he lived and worked in Warsaw designing theatre and film posters as well as contributing illustrations and designs for book publishers and the national press. He designed film titles for Polish TV and made experimental short films. From 1981 he has lived and worked in London working as a designer, illustrator and author of a number of graphic novels published by Faber & Faber and Self Made Hero. He has taught in several art schools in the UK and Europe, including the Royal College of Art in London where he is now Professor Emeritus.

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Bringing together work by Polish and Hungarian artists from three generations, Tomorrow Was a Montage in Cooper Gallery reveals a world torn asunder from the predictable and the known, the verifiable and the legitimate.

Montage, the practice of ‘citing without citations’; to quote the essential exponent of literal montage Walter Benjamin, is never neutral, never indifferent. With intimate strangeness montage unsettles all depictions of the world.

Fragments, juxtapositions, sudden illuminations, jarring proximities and a suspicion of systems; this is the image of the world offered by montage. Addressing time and space as a field of discontinuities, ruptures and breakages, montage overwhelms and unsettles perception. Pioneered in the first half of the twentieth century by the Surrealists and early Soviet filmmakers, montage became a radical subversive strategy of dissonance and shock for artists, designers, writers and thinkers seeking to challenge stereotypical images of the contemporary.

Tomorrow Was a Montage is an important opportunity to view rarely seen works that epitomise the visual language and polemical politics of the Former East in the 1960s and 70s, alongside contemporary works that demonstrate the enduring cogency of montage as an artistic method. Ranging across graphic design, animation, artists’ films and performance, Tomorrow Was a Montage features sixty significant poster works by the internationally celebrated Polish graphic designer and artist Roman Cie?lewicz, films by preeminent film-makers Jan Lenica and Zbigniew Rybczy?ski, and a screening event of legendary film works by Hungarian painter and experimental filmmaker György Kovásznai. Bringing the ethos of the exhibition into the contemporary is the work of the up-and-coming Polish film and sound artist Wojciech B?kowski.

Working without computer software and often within the political constraints of state Communism, Cie?lewicz, Lenica, Rybczy?ski and Kovásznai reveal an astonishing technical mastery of montage and its provocative political possibilities that are unsurpassed. Both Cie?lewicz and Lenica were part of the globally recognized Polish Poster School, an outstanding example of poster art comparable to France's La Belle Epoque of the 1890s. Bringing a double visual heritage of Constructivism and Expressionism from the Former East, Cie?lewicz transformed contemporary graphic design. Moving to France in 1963, he worked as artistic director of ELLE, frequently contributing to magazines including Vogue and Opus International and was acclaimed for his lavish catalogue designs for prestigious exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre. Lenica who also moved to France in 1963 won numerous awards for his animations including the Fipresci Prize for Labyrinth, which is featured in the exhibition. Depicting a self-consciously Kafkaesque tale of a winged lonely man literally devoured by totalitarian rule, Labyrinth is considered one of the finest political animations ever made.

The works in this exhibition cover a remarkable period in European art and design. Indelibly marked by politics, the shared passion of the artists from three different generations characterizes an age and stands witness to disquiet, shame and a pervasive horror. By literally cutting away the certainties conjured and promulgated by state backed and mainstream media, these complex and uncanny images evoke the oppositional sensibility marking the visual culture of the early 21st century.

For more information about the Tomorrow Was a Montage exhibition and events, please see:

The galleries can be accessed via the Cooper Gallery doors at the east side of the DJCAD car park.

Opening hours: Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm, Saturday: 11am - 5pm, Sunday: closed.

Roman Cie?lewicz, Pieds paniques III, 1974. Courtesy National Museum in Poznan © Roman Cie?lewicz Estate / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015.