OPPOsite

Opposite nr 1

Mniejszości narodowe i etniczne w sztuce polskiej po 1945 roku. "Dla ciebie chcę być biała"

Agata Soczyńska / Stigmatised world of Marek Oberländer

According to historians and critics key factors have decisive influence upon the evaluation and interpretation of Marek Oberländer's works. First of all, it is the tragic fate and life story of the artist who was born in 1922, his Jewish and borderland descent, the early death of father, his conscription into the Red Army, accusation of desertion, work in the Urals mine and death of his whole family during the war. Secondly, in 1955 Oberländer was an initiator and a co-organizer of the famous Arsenal, an all-Polish exhibition of young artists against war, against fascism, during which among others he exhibited the Stigmatized and the two series No more ghetto again and Reportage from under the Gallows - works devoted to the subject of the Holocaust.
The brought back biographic experiences made the painter a representative of a martyrdom trend, a witness of the times of contempt and a representative of the collective memory of millions of murdered Jews. However, the artist himself was reluctant to accept the role. In the output he emphasized an existential sense of being, searched for individual forms and ways of expressing himself as a man - a Polish - Jewish - painter from Szczerzec near Lwow, a small multicultural and multiethnic town in the prewar Poland.
In his life and art Oberländer struggled with his Jewish identity. He felt its overwhelming stigmas. At the same time he often distanced himself from them for which he paid a high price. War nightmares, fear, fear of death returned obsessively. He experienced cracks and tests of difficult friendship, loneliness and feeling of underestimation, even elimination and finally heart disease, numerous heart attacks, longing for family and friends, myth of childhood and world harmony.
The artist emphasised his independence and antidoctrinairism. In painting he searched for the truth, authenticity, confirmation of his own being and sense of humanity. His paintings reflect the whole tragic nature of his biography but also show the dramatic fight of both a man and an artist for every sign of internal freedom in life and art.