4 November 2016 – 16 December 2016
It seemed to me that the interrelation between these two sides: order in nature on the one side, and the human condition on the other, was the undefinable drama to be grasped, dealt with and communicated by me.
– Franciszka Themerson, Bi-abstract Pictures, 1957
l’étrangère in London presents a solo exhibition of paintings, drawings and calligrammes by Franciszka Themerson – a seminal figure in the Polish pre-war avant-garde. She developed her unique pictorial language during the shifting years of pre- and post-war Europe, having settled in Britain in 1943. Together with her husband, writer, poet and filmmaker, Stefan Themerson, she was involved with experimental film and avant-garde publishing. Her personal domain, however, focused on painting, drawing, theatre sets and costume design.
This exhibition brings together Franciszka’s three paintings completed in 1972 and a selection of drawings, dated from 1955 to 1986, which demonstrate the breadth of her work.
The paintings: Piétons Apocalypse, A Person I Know and Coil Totem, act as anchors in the exhibition, while the drawings demonstrate the variety of motifs recurring throughout her work. The act of drawing and the key role of the line remain a constant throughout her practice. The images are characterised by a fluidity of line, rhythmic composition and the humorous depiction of everyday life. She was instinctively drawn to the contrast of extremes: abstraction and figuration, order and disorder, comedy and tragedy.