‘Mind-bending’ art expected to bring in big bucks as it goes under the hammer at Warsaw auction

Of the works set for auction, the vast majority are defined by their arresting quirks and details. Desa Unicum

Curious and fantastical, some of Poland’s most intriguing works of art are to go under the hammer tonight as part of DESA Unicum’s auction of Magic Art.

Painted in 1998 by Zdzisław Beksiński, the star attraction is undoubtedly an untitled piece that is expected to fetch up to PLN 500,000. Combining motifs that bring to mind a dream, it is typical of the artist’s oeuvre with the sketchy facial form lending the painting a mysterious and almost liquid form.Desa Unicum

Charged with realising and executing the auction, Samanta Belling from DESA Unicum tells TFN that never before has this genre enjoyed such popularity.

“We’ve noticed clients want to buy and that the public are interested in it,” she says. “Quite possibly that’s directly rooted in the times – in these pandemic days, it offers a very real sense of escape because it’s so connected with the imagination and the soul.”

Desa Unicum

Expected to field offers from between PLN 50,000 and PLN 70,000, Jarosław Jaśnikowski’s “Pea Grain Clock” is a riot of eccentricity: floating trees, melting clockfaces, pointing fingers and a giant grasshopper.Desa Unicum

Painted in 1998 by Zdzisław Bekśinski, the star attraction is undoubtedly an untitled piece that is expected to fetch up to PLN 500,000. Combining motifs that bring to mind a dream, it is typical of the artist's oeuvre with the sketchy facial form lending the paintings a mysterious and almost liquid form.

“At every auction you always need a few strong highlights to bring the event to the art world’s attention, and I have no doubt that this work falls into the category,” says Belling. “Painted at one of the most important stages of his professional life, it’s definitely the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to significance.”

Desa Unicum

Figuring highly in the auction with six pieces set for sale – the highest for a forecast price of between PLN 70,000 to PLN 90,000 – is Tomasz Setowski, an artist whose work has graced numerous album covers and magazines. Desa Unicum

Much prominence is also being awarded to “Riverside – Lost Soul” by Jerzy Duda-Gracz. Also painted in 1998, some six years before the painter’s death, it too serves to typify the artist’s style. However, though typifying his output, its availability is being promoted as something of a landmark.

“It’s very rare to see such a work by him placed on the market,” says Belling, “so it’s incredibly special that we have this.”

Exhibited in over 185 countries, and featuring in such reputable institutions as the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the work of Duda-Gracz was known for presenting grotesque and deformed figures often set in a pre-industrialized world – in these, a foreboding sense of sadness and unfulfillment hangs in the air.

In this, “Riverside – Lost Soul” is no different, depicting as it does a naked angel, a bare-breasted woman in stockings and a country girl in folk dress all posed together in a quiet Polish meadow. Despite the rural idyll, there is an unspoken and forlorn sadness that seems to join the characters.

The diversity of the talents is as mind-bending as the art; figuring highly in the auction with six pieces set for sale – the highest for a forecast price of between PLN 70,000 to PLN 90,000 – is Tomasz Setowski, an artist whose work has graced numerous album covers and magazines.

Describing the mind as a dream factory, the artist’s work is a joy of tangled and occasionally dark complexity. According to Setowski, “trips into the land of fantasy are for me a search for treasures that I would like to share.”

Of the works set for auction, the vast majority are defined by their arresting quirks and details.

Desa Unicum

There is much excitement, too, around the paintings of Jakub Różalski – also known as Mr. Werewolf, the apocalyptic art of Różalski went internationally viral with his well-received 1920+ series. Desa Unicum

Expected to field offers from between PLN 50,000 and PLN 70,000, Jarosław Jaśnikowski’s "Pea Grain Clock" is a riot of eccentricity: floating trees, melting clockfaces, pointing fingers and a giant grasshopper.

Intense and vibrant, the fairy tale quality is counter-balanced by its rich metaphorical meanings that seek to prompt viewers to question “the ruthless passing of time” as well as “the role of man in a world ruled by nature.”

There is much excitement, too, around the paintings of Jakub Różalski – also known as Mr. Werewolf, the apocalyptic art of Różalski went internationally viral with his well-received 1920+ series.

Depicting rural Poland at the time of the Polish-Bolshevik war, the era was reimagined by the artist to feature terrifying mechanical military hardware straight from the future. Hoping to reach bids of PLN 18,000 will be one work from this series and that will be supplemented by two other of his works depicting archaic figures set against the bleak, unforgiving countryside.

“We’ve noticed that he’s generating a huge amount of excitement,” says Belling, “in fact, this is the first time his work has gone on auction in Poland.”

Much prominence is also being awarded to “Riverside – Lost Soul” by Jerzy Duda-Gracz. Also painted in 1998, some six years before the painter’s death, it too serves to typify the artist’s style. However, though typifying his output, its availability is being promoted as something of a landmark.Desa Unicum

But whilst the spotlight has naturally fallen on the big names, for Belling and DESA Unicum the auction is being seen as a platform to promote Poland’s upcoming new wave of talent.

“Yes, you need the artists at an auction and we’re delighted to have them,” says Belling, “but I think what really makes this auction special for us is the chance to really push the names of lesser-known artists such as Piotr Horodyński and Lucyna Góralczyk.

“The prices they command are already quite high, but I believe that within a few months their works will be selling for two or three times higher than what people are now paying.”

But whilst the spotlight has naturally fallen on the big names, for Belling and DESA Unicum the auction is being seen as a platform to promote Poland’s upcoming new wave of talent such as Lucyna Góralczyk (top) and Piotr Horodyński. Desa Unicum

It is artists such as these, says Belling, that have given so much promise for the future.

“The direction that Polish fantastic art has taken is thrilling,” says Belling, “and I think there’s potential for it to become known around the world.”