Zbigniew Dłubak

(26.04.1921 Radomsko – 21.08.2005 Warszawa)

Photographer, painter, art theorist, years-long editor of the Fotografia monthly, one of the most eminent figures of the Polish photographic circles after 1945.

Dlubak had his photographic debut in 1947 with experimental works that referred to the avant-garde tradition of the interwar period. His last 20 years of work were devoted to creating a photographic-painterly series titled Asymmetry[Asymetria].

Dlubak frequented the Lelewel high school in Warsaw. He made his first painting works before the outbreak of the World War II. He was a soldier in the People’s Guard [Gwardia Ludowa], and, as a civilian, was transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp during the Warsaw Uprising. It was there that he came in contact with Marian Bogusz, with whom he organized short art presentations in the camp barracks.

In the years 1947-49 he was an active figure in the re-establishment of artistic life in Poland, at the same time remaining in active military service. He was a member of the visual arts section of Warsaw’s “Club of Young Artists and Scientists” [Klub Mlodych Artystow i Naukowcow], where, in 1948, he had his debut solo photographic exhibition. The show featured abstract bromide prints accompanied by poetic titles. A couple of months later he took part in the 1st Exhibition of Modern Art in Krakow. At the time he met Wladyslaw Strzeminski and Henryk Stazewski, who had a significant impact on his artistic views. In 1950 Dlubak lost his job, was discharged from the military, and made a living from photographic commissions. Along with Irena Jarosinska he photographed the State Agricultural Farms (PGR), and published a pocket guide to portrait photography. Beginning in 1953, when he took over as the editor-in-chief of the Fotografia monthly (where he continued working until 1972), he gradually re-entered active artistic life. In 1955 he co-founded the Group 55. In 1950s, having completely abandoned his early experimental approach to photography he began documenting the banal reality – cityscapes and suburbs, views from the windows of his studio and apartment – in the most straightforward manner, without resorting to aesthetic tricks. From the late 1950s the majority of his photographs were taken in interiors, chiefly his own studio. Initially these depicted objects and fragments of rooms, in the 1960s also nudes. This collection, titled Existences [Egzystencje], was partially utilized in the photographic environment Iconosphere I in 1967. After 1970 Dlubak focused on analyzing the mechanisms of the development, establishment and fading of signs – and the meanings which they denoted – which he pursued in the series of paintings Systems [Systemy] and of photographs; Gesticulations[Gestykulacje], Collection [Kolekcja], Activity Gesture [Czynnosc Gest], as well as Desymbolizations [Desymbolizacje]. In the early 1980s, again interested in the perception, assimilation and remembering of images, he embarked on an extensive project involving painting and photography Asymmetry [Asymetria] which he continued until his death. In 1982 he moved to Meudon near Paris.

Dlubak collaborated with such Warsaw galleries as “Krzywe Koło”, “Wspolczesna”, “Foksal” and “Remont”, as well as “Permafo” and “Seminarium-Foto-Medium-Art” in Wroclaw. He was among the co-organizers of such prominent exhibitions as Subjective Photography [Fotografia Subiektywna] and Photographers-Explorers [Fotografowie Poszukujacy]. In the years 1965 – 1975 Dlubak was a lecturer at the State Higher School of Fine Art and the State Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz. Along with his graduates and students he founded the group “Warsaw Seminar” [Seminarium Warszawskie] active from 1975-1981.

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