Edward Krasinski & Eustachy Kossakowski

Edward Krasinski (1925-2004) was one of the most artistically charismatic protagonists of the post-war Polish avant-garde. The frequently used notion of Conceptualism to define Krasinski’s work does not reach far enough to cover the formal, theoretical and experimental dimensions of his oeuvre, – and at this conclusion there is a surplus in Krasinski’s work which remains untouched by definition.

I wouldn’t want to spoil what I do with God knows what “artism” (E. Krasinski)

Known for his legendary choice of the ‘blue line’ – a 19 mm wide blue electrical Scotch tape applied horizontally at the height of 130 cm, – as an interventionist medium which would henceforth connect his sculptural work with the environment in any given space -, Krasinski engaged with a neo-avantgarde from of art making which favored a restrictive conceptual language. Yet, Krasinski’s formalist innovations in the late 1960s (his first use of the blue Scotch tape dates to the year 1968) can be traced back to his beginnings as a surrealist painter and book illustrator. The illusionism inserted into the abstraction of Krasinski’s work carries it to a genuine almost magical place where one witnesses a certain even messy grotesque treatment of the object and the everyday a gesture comfortably imbedded in the frame of minimalist precision. Dan Graham recently called this effect in Krasinski’s work “a kind of humorous perversity”. But by paradox – to typical for Krasinski’s practice – this illusionism was achieved through a process of revealing what was already there, a process Krasinski repeatedly referred to as the “unmasking” potential of the blue line.

The blue line with its infinite horizontal extent constitutes an intervention into space and time. The blue line could connect everything in its way from aesthetic objects to mundane pre-existing things or even nature and people (the tape was first attached on trees and perceived by the artist as the contradiction between living and dead material).

In a next step Krasinski – again within the workings of the creative paradox – doubled and intensified this interventionist effect up to a self-mannerism by creating objects made of rectangular wood boxes titled “Interventions” which he would connect with the blue line. On the surfaces of these boxes a graphic play of spatially organized lines was set into motion. The effect is a temporary installation giving its space of operation a sense of rhythm, a generous yet precisely accentuated visual and aesthetic engagement with a given environment.

I did not organize anything. Everything comes like dust on hardwood floor. But I direct this and pay strict attention to the placement of every single thing, one centimeter to the left, one centimeter to the right, so it shall not be a mess.

 Perhaps it is that I only think about the spectator, about his body, about his eyes (organs of vision) and about the fact that he shan’t be smothered by anything, while continuing to be in a human environment, in the continuity of normal life.  (E. Krasinski)

There existed an extraordinary proximity and axis between the presence of Krasinski’s aesthetic objects and his private sphere, which also reflected the political economy and tension of private and public in the Communist era. Every element in Krasinski’s work seems to be affected by this symbolic economy and the fact that he was situated in an artistic milieu, which constituted a resistance to the system through individualism and radical avant-gardism.

In 1970, after his former wife, collaborator and co-founder of Foksal Gallery, the critic Anka Ptaszkowska had immigrated to Paris, Krasinski was approached by Henryk Stazewski (1894-1988), the Polish Constructivist and legend of the pre-war generation, to share the latter’s studio in a post-war apartment block on Aleja Solidarnosci 64 in Warsaw.

The two men, representing two very profound artistic generations of Polish avant-garde, lived together in this apartment studio for 18 years until Stazewski’s death in 1988. The studio showed an absence of traces of work, but was for decades a salon and meeting point of the Polish intelligentsia and art scene. And since Stazewski’s physical absence Krasinski turned the space more and more into a self-referential stage of his and his friend’s living and artistic interiors. What seemed to be an informal domestic space became the very “basis of its own art production system” (Rachel Haidu).