"Afterimage" by Andrzej Wajda steals some of the spotlight from the International Festival of Films on Art.07 avril, 2017
But Montreal moviegoers also got to see a film, that albeit not part of the festival, ran concurrently and dealt with the creative process and the merits of art under political oppression. The last film by world-renowned Polish filmmaker, Andrzej Wajda, who died in October of last year, it deals with the terrible struggle of Polish avant-garde artist and theoretician, Władysław Strzemiński (1893 - 1952).
The film is multi-layered, and, as are most of Wajda's productions, highly moralistic. Strzemiński was truly a tragic hero. Having lost his left arm and right leg during WWI, he hobbled on crutches for the rest of his life.
Passionate about art, inspired by such famous artists of the time as Malevich (1879-1935), perhaps the greatest pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the Suprematist movement, and Antoine Pevsner, an avant-garde sculptor, co-author of the Realist Manifesto (1920).
But Strzemiński was no less influential in the annals of contemporary abstraction, formulating such intriguing theories as Unism, or creating the Neoplastic room in the Art Museum of Łódź.
The details of his life and career make for a fascinating read for those interested in art history. In Wajda's film, his bitter, and ultimately hopeless, battle with the Communist authorities takes centre stage, the art like a Greek chorus witnessing the artist's tragic downfall.
The film is extremely subdued, both in its visual presentation - all sepia tones resembling old photographs - as in the superb acting. Boguslaw Linda's understated performance in the title role is a departure for the actor, one of the most popular of Polish movie stars, usually cast as a dark character.
The film, shot on location in the industrial city of Łódź, is a tribute to one artist's indomitable dedication to his vision, against all odds, and at an enormous personal sacrifice.
The title, Afterimage (Powidok, in Polish), is taken from a series of 'solaristic' paintings by Strzemiński, referred to as "afterimages of light", works that recorded optical impressions caused by looking at the sun.
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Written by Andrzej Wajda
Starring Boguslaw Linda
Władysław Strzemiński, Afterimage of the Sun Powidok słońca, 1948-1949, oil on canvas, 73 x 61 cm, property of the National Museum in Warsaw, photo: NMW
Andrzej Wajda & Boguslaw Linda