Ryszard Winiarski

Ryszard Winiarski

Born May 2 1936, Lviv
Died December 4 2006, Warsaw

Ryszard Winiarski was a Polish painter, a constructivist who greatly developed and reflected the theory of coincidence, the theory of games, and language structuralism in his work. His objectivistic approach to artistic work and emphasis on the creative process heralded the coming of conceptual art. Winiarski graduated from the Warsaw University of Technology and Academy of Fine Arts. He also taught at the academy and at the University in Lublin.


Ryszard Winiarski studied in the Wydzial Mechaniki Precyzyjnej/ Department of Precision Engineering at the Politechnika Warszawska/ Warsaw University of Technology between 1953 and 1959. He was a visiting student at Alexandr Kobdzej's (1920-1972) art studio at the Warsaw Akademia sztuk pięknych/ Academy of Fine Arts from 1957. He enrolled to study in Kobdzej's own department in 1960. Stanislav Szczepanski (1895-1973) and Jan Wodyński (1903-1988) were also among his teachers. He studied scenography under Władysław Daszewski (1902-1971) and typography under Julian Pałka (1923-2002).


Winiarski attended Mieczyslaw Porębski's (1921-2012) seminar in the mid 1960's and he worked on his thesis, which he published in 1966 under the title Zdarzenie – informacja – obraz (Event– Information – Picture). In relation to the thesis, he worked on the Próby wizualnej reprezentacji rozkładów statystycznych/ Attempts for Visual Representation of Statistical Distributions (1966) series. He presented his work, dealing with the programme approach to paintings, at the Pulawski symposium Sztuka w zmieniającym się świecie/ Art in the Changing World and he won first prize. Winiarski was inspired by the laws of probability, he reflected statistics, the theory of games, language structuralism and he created pieces which are cold and objective, free of subjectivity and artist's emotions. As with his peers, Jerzy Rosołowicz (1928-1982) and Roman Opałka (1931-2011), he deliberately revised the concept of art in the Western philosophical and cultural tradition: The art work in his conception adopted parameters of scientific work, during which the process itself was the desired effect and the resulting artistic work only a side product or evidence. Winiarski, with his emphasis on the process, the course and organization of the creative process, the significance of thinking it over, freely anticipated the later conceptual tendencies. He called his work on canvas or wooden board areas, or he described it as visual representations of statistical systems. In fact he endeavoured to create a transparent work which would perfectly personify the creative process without leaving space for associative interpretation. In the 1960's Winiarski limited his palette to black and white (a parallel to the mathematical system of ones and zeros) and a square format for paintings, which presumed some initial organization (format, chromacity) based on a pre-determined programme. The final ratio of elements and their order is, however, left to chance (the throw of a dice, a raffle).


Winiarski actively pursued scenography during this period. He designed the sets (do you mean he designed the sets, the physical objects that are on the stage, props, etc? )for Euripides's Medea, Shakespeare's Macbeth and Othello, for the Wiszniewski's (1946-1981) Tragedia optymistyczna/ Optimistic Tragedy , Szukszyn's (1929-1974) Przy pełni księżyca/ At the Full Moon and Maciej Bordowicz's (1941-2009) Specjalność zakładu/ Specialty of the House.


Winiarski's permanent interest in the third dimension and program modulations led to the creation of a system which could generate the illusion of a 3D structure, similar to an architectural design. The process was also enriched with prominent colours and a change of format. The resulting work was perspectively illusive, visually embossed and nearly kinetic.


Area 59
Area 59 (painting)


The revolutionary character of Winiarski's creative strategy required a specific form of presentation – the programme was therefore written on information boards accompanying his exhibits. However, in this the viewer was only a passive observer (the installation in the Warsaw Zachęta, 1970). This was the reason Winiarski tried to activate it during the 1970's: In 1972, he presented an exhibition in the Galeria Współczesna in Warsaw


Area 132
Area 132 (painting)


[Ryszard Winiarski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)


Area 144
Area 144 (painting)


[Ryszard Winiarski] (solo exhibition, Friedberg)
White and Black (group exhibition, Wrocław)
Od zera k nieskończoności, od nieskończoności do zera (group exhibition, Wrocław)


[Ryszard Winiarski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)
Ryszard Winiarski: Synonimy (solo exhibition, Wrocław)
Ryszard Winiarski (solo exhibition, Antwerpen)


In 1977, Winiarski presented his ideal work plan for the period up to 1980, illustrated in 144 drawings. His methods had changed quite substantially since the beginning of the decade – he yielded to intuition and emotion, reflecting the collective experience and the value of association under the influence of the New Expressionism. His work became increasingly uneasy: The exhibition Język geometrii/ The Language of Geometry in Zachęta presented his dramatic installation Czarny kwadrat czyli fruwająca geometria/ The Black Square as the Basis for Geometry (1984), and he published the Geometria w stanie napięcia/ Geometry in the Stress Condition manifesto in the same year. In 1981, Winiarski led a workshop focusing on the problems of painting in architecture and the human environment (Problemy malarstwa w architekturze i w otoczeniu człowieka) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Ninth Game 9x9
Ninth Game 9x9 (painting)
Tenth Game 9x9
Tenth Game 9x9 (painting)


In 1983, he conducted a cycle of lectures as a visiting professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach.


Small is beautifull (group exhibition, Warsaw)


From 1985 to 1987 and then again between 1987 and 1990, Winiarski worked as the rector of the Akademia sztuk pięknych w Warszawie / Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.


In 1987, Winiarski created a series of geometric compositions using burning candles, which he presented at home and abroad under the title Geometria czyli szansa medytacji/ Geometry as an Opportunity for Meditation.


[Ryszard Winiarski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)


Winiarski was awarded the title of professor at the end of his second term as a rector at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1996, he won the Jan Cybis (1897-1972) Prize.


[Ryszard Winiarski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)


Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (group exhibition, Barcelona)


Polský konstruktivismus (group exhibition, )


Cultural Luggage (Ukrainian-Polish project) (group exhibition, Kyiv)
Chance as Strategy (group exhibition, Budapest)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2021