Kazimierz Mikulski

Kazimierz Mikulski

Born February 10 1918, Kraków
Lived in Kraków
Died July 27 1998, Kraków

Painter, actor, set designer, theatre director, illustrator, poet, and one of the representatives of Polish Surrealism, and poetic and lyricising painting. Mikulski belongs to the group of Krakow artists. With Tadeusz Kantor, he is one of the crucial figures on the local alternative theatre scene.


At the end of the 1930's Kazimierz Mikulski started his studies at the Krakow Akademia sztuk pięknych/ Academy of Fine Arts. His teachers were Paweł Dadlez (1904-1940) and Kazimierz Sichulski (1879-1942). During the German occupation he continued his studies under Fryderyk Pautsch (1877-1950) at the Kunstgewerbeschule/ Szkola Przemysłu Artystycznego/ School of Arts and Trades. He made friends with his classmates Tadeusz Brzozowski (1918-1987) and Janina Kraupe (1921


Wystawa Grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)


After WWII Mikulski attended acting and directing courses in theStudio Dramatyczne/ Dramatic Studio at the Krakow Stary Teatr/ Old Theatre (1945-1946). In the summer of 1945 he participated in Warsztat Filmowy Młodych/ Film Workshops of the Youth. He was an actor in the Teatr Kameralny/ Chamber Theatre TUR until 1948. In 1945 Mikulski joined Grupa Młodych Plastyków/ Group of Young Artists (in 1965-1967 he was chairman), and in the same year he made his debut in a group exhibition in Zakopane. During the first post-war years, Mikulski's work showed elements of Abstractionism educated by Surrealism, albeit very locally and personally influenced (Powrót syna marnotrawnego/ The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1948
Wystawa grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)
I Wystawa plastyki (group exhibition, Zakopane)


Wystawa Grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)


In 1948 Mikulski participated in I wystawy Sztuki Nowoczesnej/ 1st Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Krakow Pałac sztuki/ Palace of Art. He presented his works with bizarre titles
Over three decades Mikulski worked as a stage designer and as artistic director for one of the most influential Polish theatres Teatr Lalki i Maski ‚Groteska‘/ Groteska Puppet and Mask Theatre. During that time he participated in around fifty plays as a stage designer, a costume designer, including masks and artistic designs. As with the art of painting, he held to the misappropriation poetics, circus poetics, and to a certain extent he approximated the aesthetics of Russian director Vsevolod Mejerchold (1874-1940).
Untitled (painting)


At the turn of the 1950's, human figures with distinct cheeks, as well as game and fantastic flora in almost Arcadian visions began to dominate Mikulski's works (Łąka/ Meadow, 1950


After his engagement in Kantor's underground theatre (1942-1944), Kazimierz Mikulski acted in the newly established Cricot 2 theatre in Krakow (Witkiewicz's plays Kurka wodna/ Moorhen and Nadobnisie i koczkodany/ Dainty Shapes and Hairy Apes) and also wrote plays. In 1956, the theatre company staged Mikulski's play Studnia, czyli głębia myśli/ Well, or depth of a thought and a year later the first theatre emballage, Cyrk/ Circus. Mikulski's paintings also revealed his fascination with the world of avant-garde theatre, as in the canvas Nocna próba/ Night Test (1954).


In 1957, Mikulski joined the re-established Grupy Krakowské/ Krakow Group. As early as the 1940’s he participated in its groundbreaking Wystawy Sztuki Nowoczesnej/ Exhibitions of Contemporary Painting (Krakow 1948-1949) and also in later years(Warsaw 1957 and 1959). Besides painting, which was his major domain, he also produced drawings and book illustrations. In 1963, he illustrated Ludwik Jerzy Kern's (1920-2010) book Ferdynand Wspaniały/ Ferdinand the Great.


Wystawa malarstwa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)


Mikulski's autonomous artistic expression was closely related to theatre plays and theatre design. A young girl with a mysteriously calm face, reminiscent of a mask, surrounded by rich decoration is a typical figure in his paintings. Good examples are canvases such as Zasadzka / Trap (1964), Próba portretu/ Attempted Portrait (1967), and Krajobraz zimowy/ Winter Landscape (1968).
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Wrocław)


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Szczecin)


Kazimierz Mikulski was granted the Nagroda Ministra Kultury i Sztuki/ Award of the Ministry of Culture and Art for his work in the area of theatre design.


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)


Malarstwo w Polsce Ludowej (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In the 1970's, a new element appeared in Mikulski's works: collage. He used reproductions of iconic works from the European Renaissance (Botticelli) and later also paintings from theDutch Golden Age. He combined them with images of insects and birds and secondarily intervened in them with black ink. The resulting lines form nets or imaginary cages. The series was called Wizje końca świata przy czarnej kapie/ Vision of the End of the World over Black Coffee (and also Nocne ptaki/ Night Birds, Dzień owadów/ Day of the Insects and others).
Ravens (mixed media)


In 1975, Mikulski acted in the Cricot 2 theatre in Krakow in Kantor's play Umarła klasa/ Dead Class.
XIII wystawa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)


After a series of collages, Mikulski worked on a cycle which combined ink drawing and watercolour, Fantastyka/ Fantasy. He complemented monochromatic black-and-white ink drawings, which he had previously used (Szymon Słupnik, 1976), with yellow and ochre shades. He settled his fantastic landscape scenes with similarly fantastic inhabitants, peculiar animals and figures with anthropomorphic characteristics, usually with visible sexual features. The uplands rising from the plain in the scene resembled women's breasts. In addition to fantastic creatures, his typical iconographic motifs included cats (A nade mną kto?/ And Who Over Me?, 1976
XIV Wystawa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)


Mikulski's paintings from the early 1980's strongly evoked an accurately and thoughtfully constructed alternative to Surrealism. The series of night scenes (Nocny atak/ Night Attack, 1981


Grupa Krakowska 1932-37/ 1957-84 (group exhibition, Pécs)


In the mid-1980's, the motif of a cobweb with a marked central point appeared in Mikulski's works (Rysunek/ Drawing, 1985). It often constituted part of a fantastic landscape scene made of human hair and birds' or human eyes (Spotkanie/ Meeting, 1985
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)


Mrożek w „ Grotesce” (solo exhibition, Kraków)


In the first half of the 1990's, Mikulski made a series of twenty five drawings Cień kota w tajemnicy na wzgórzu/ Cat's Shadow in Secret on a Hill which fully concentrated his fairytale iconography. The reminiscence about a dead family cat was a metaphor for death and the eternal cycle of life. A similar motif also appeared in his drawing Dusze naszych ptaków/ Soul of Our Birds (1995).
Kolekcja sztuki XX wieku (group exhibition, Łódź)


Artyści z Krakowa (group exhibition, Warsaw)


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Groteska – Teatr Lalki i Aktora 1945-95 (group exhibition, Kraków)


Kazimierz Mikulski was awarded the Nagroda Honorowa Fundacji Kultury Polskiej/ Honorary Award of the Polish Culture Foundation.
Odwilż – sztuka ok. 1956 r. (group exhibition, Poznań)
Surrealiści Polscy (group exhibition, Częstochowa)


Nowe Obrazy (solo exhibition, Kraków)
W kręgu Grupy Krakowskiej – artyści teatru Tadeusza Kantora (group exhibition, Kraków)
Pokolenia (group exhibition, Warsaw)


[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Liryka i groteska Kazimierza Mikulskiego (solo exhibition, Kraków)
I Wystawa sztuki nowoczesnej. Pięćdziesiąt lat później (group exhibition, Kraków)
Bliźniemu swemu (group exhibition, Rzeszów)


Europe. Art of the 60s (group exhibition, Karlsruhe)

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