22.10.2022 - 22.12.2022 Arts, Events

Wojciech Plewinski – A must-know photographer

The full spectrum of his work will be on display in an exhibition at Villa De Bondt in Gent from 22 October to 22 December 2022

Italy, 1957

Fiakier, 1959

Wojciech Plewinski was born in 1928 in Warsaw, Poland, which was enjoying its newly regained independence following the World War I. He initially studied to become an architect, but quickly developed an interest in photography and chose to become a free-lance photographer instead. In Poland, he in time became famous for his theater photography and his portraits of women taken for the renowned magazine “Przekrój”. However, it is ultimately his free reportage that defines the great artistic quality of his work. Wojciech Plewinski admits an affinity with the French humanist photographers of the 1950s: Robert Doisneau and Edouard Boubat, and, in some respects, Henri Cartier-Bresson. His theater photography was greatly admired by such leading Polish film and theatre directors, as Andrzej Wajda, Tadeusz Kantor, Konrad Swinarski and Józef Szajna. Plewinski was able to successfully capture the dynamics of the Polish theater, which was among the world’s best at the time.
Plewinski grew up in a war-scarred Poland, in a grim period in the country’s history. Eventually, though, he managed to take his first trip abroad to Italy (1957). This voyage, along with a stopover in Vienna, came as a culture shock for him. His first encounter with Italy was in winter, when the country was pure and empty of tourists. This visit gave him a great boost in terms of developing his art of travel reportage photography, which resulted in his remarkable Italian series. It was also in 1957 that he shot a breathtaking reportage in a part of Poland which used to belong to Germany before the Second World War. The Western Land series has a deep human dimension, while using the ruins of old German buildings as a backdrop.

Venice, 1957

Wester Land Nysa, 1957

Plewinski’s love and knowledge of the human body is great, as well, and his female nudes are subtle. His perceptions are insightful when portraying a range of subjects: a farmer accompanied by a cow which appears to be dancing lightly, or a throng of people getting out of the Paris subway like a mimo-drama frozen in time, where every expression on each person’s face has a meaning. A woman crossing a bridge in Venice, or a woman headed for a church in Nysa…. Infinite movability to be enjoyed.
Almost completely devoid of irony, his work is endowed with careful observation combined with a highly alert and sensitive eye. Over the years, his imagery became sharper and Plewinski began distilling abstract compositions from all manner of landscapes. Some of the beautiful examples of his work include shots of steel mills, snow landscapes, wooden logs in water….
In the world of photography he is sometimes called the “polyglot of photographers” on account of his versatility. He unquestionably takes a prominent place among the most important representatives of the post-war generation of photographers.

Venice, 1957

Paris, 1967

Tadeusz Kantor, 1967

Villa De Bondt
Krijgslaan 124, 9000 Gent

  22 October – 22 December 2022
Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 2p.m. to 6 p.m.
To visit make an appointment at info@villadebondt.be

The selection was made in Cracow, Poland, by Wojciech Plewinski himself, his son Maciej and Wim Vandekerckhove with thanks to Wojciech Nowicki

Przekrój Magazine

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