Roman ARTYMOWSKI (Polish; Lvov 1919 - £owicz 1993) studied painting at the
Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow (1945-1949), and then moved to the Warsaw
Academy, where he worked at the Faculty of Painting. In 1959 he had his first
solo exhibition in Warsaw; in the same year the artist visited Baghdad for the
first time. In the years 1959-1960 Artymowski stayed in Iraq, teaching graphic
arts and polygraphy at the Fine Arts Institute and the Tahreer College in
Baghdad. It was in that period that watercolour had become his favourite medium.
In 1962-1967 Artymowski was the head of the Department of Graphic Arts in a
newly established Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad. After return to Poland he
worked and taught at the State School of Visual Arts in £ód¼, and subsequently
at the Warsaw Academy, the Rector of which he became in 1983. He came back once
again to teach in Iraq (Baghdad) for a period of 1976-1979.
Artymowski was an artist specially sensitive to the slightest nuances of colour
and painterly qualities of uncommon textures. This can be seen best in his
ephemeral watercolours done on different kinds of paper and Japan tissue, where
the colour and texture overlap. They were described by critcs as being as
delicate "as the wings of a butterfly".
Initially a realist, Artymowski gradually distanced himself from figurative
painting, heading towards the art informel, and finally adopted a peculiar
convention of geometric abstraction. The desert landscape of Iraq, its oriental
atmosphere, saturated with mystery proved to be the artist's most potent
inspiration. His numerous travels to the Near East bear fruit in form of
numerous oils, watercolours and graphic works, sophisticated in their colour set
and texture, on which one can recognize the silhouettes of Arab women, the
desert sun and the ruins of ancient cities. Artymowski was able to masterly
render the essence of that landscape - the scorching heat of the sun, pouring
from the sky and the hot, vibrating air. These transitory effects were achieved
by the artist by means of uncommon, new techniques, either self-conceived or
revived after centuries of oblivion, or by using unusual materials. He was a
master in this craft.