News Cricoteka

Biography

 

Image

 

Photo by Heinz O. Jurisch
                                                                                              

        Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990) was once called "the best artist of the world from amongst Polish artists and the most Polish one from amongst artists of the world". Already during his life, some considered him a genius, and others a master of mystification or a clever imitator only. Today, no one should doubt that this artist, who passed away in 1990, was one of the greatest creators of the art of the twentieth century. Even though it is difficult to explain what the phenomenon of his imagination was based upon. He was a versatile artist; a "total" one as he used to say, thus it is very risky to divide his output into individual "disciplines". Being a painter, stage designer, poet, actor, and happener, he made a name for himself as a man of theatre, but even in the domain of it he remained first of all a painter who thought with images and used actors and props instead of paints.
        Kantor's greatest achievement was The Cricot 2 Theatre. Its performances, beginning with The Dead Class (1975), attained the level of masterpiece. The unusual formula of his Theatre of Death consisted in creating artistic illustration for mechanisms of memory. Sequences of unreal pictures, snatches of memories, obtrusively returning scenes, and absurd situations: everybody knows this from his own experience. And all of us are confused in a similar way: series of painful resentments, daring longings, remembered fragments of sentences, comical scraps of the past. We are physical, and it appears that our memory and imagination are also physical. We do not exist without form; we think and even feel with images. And Kantor could show it on the stage. He created an unusually suggestive space in which the living and the dead have been mixed, where the shyest desires and most cruel experiences, i.e. war, love and crime, fear, passion and hatred have been revealed. On faded photographs of his family album, the personal biography intertwined with history, where national myths and private obsessions returned with tiresome echoes, like in the distorting mirror.

 

 

Prepared by: Krystyna Czerni

Translated by: Elżbieta Chrzanowska-Kluczewska