Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Polish Artist Zbigniew Kopania

By Judit Trunkos

Polish Realist painter, Zbigniew Kopania, is visiting Columbia to exhibit at HOFP Gallery on Devine Street. The exhibition features breathtaking landscapes and still lifes. Kopania, also a cameraman, augments techniques that were honed by the 17th Century Dutch Masters to create his own take on modern, detail-oriented Realism.

Masters of the Dutch Golden Age were Baroque painters who became popular in Western Europe, especially in Rome and Italy. In the 17th Century Netherlands there was a plethora of painters with their own signature styles studying at different schools in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden and Delft. Some of the most well-know masters emerging from this period were Rembrandt and Vermeer, just to mention a few.

Kopania was born in Lódź, Poland and studied in the Polish Film School. His mentor, Professor Jerzy Mierzejewski, encouraged him to paint after Kopania, as part of an art class assignment, copied Rembrandt portraits perfectly. He has been devoting his life to painting ever since. The Polish artist mostly paints still lifes, flowers, and landscapes, which are reminiscent of the Dutch Masters’ styles. Kopania’s background in photography and his expertise in operating a camera greatly assist him in his painting. He often takes pictures of landscapes that he later paints with great emphasis on detail and light.

Kopania has exhibited around the world, including the Polish Cultural Centre in London, Gallery Provincichuis Haarlem in the Netherlands, Galerie Am Isator in Munich, Turner Art Gallery in Denver, Houtplein Expositie Haarlem, and in the Galerie Kunst Centrum in Haarlem. His visit to Columbia is Kopania’s fourth trip to the United States.

Art dealer, Irving Baum, accompanied the painter to HOFP and shared the story of how he discovered Kopania’s works in Europe.

“I was visiting the Netherlands where I found Kopania’s works amongst other Dutch Masters’ works,” Baum says. “Except that the one that caught my attention was not Dutch, it was Polish. I bought them. When I went back the second time, I knew I had to find the artist. Later I took the initiative and called Kopania on the phone. This was almost 20 years ago.”

Kopania’s favorite of his paintings? “It is always the last one,” he jokes.

HOFP Gallery will feature his most recent work titled “Sunrise at the River.” The impressionist color theme, combined with the peaceful layout and composition, is just one of Kopania’s landscapes on exhibit.

“I always want to make the painting as realistic as possible,” Kopania explains. “It has to feel natural. Almost as if we could touch the object on the canvas.”

When asked if he ever experiments with less realistic styles, Kopania explained that his connection was to Realism, however, he sometimes includes surrealistic elements in his paintings. At HOFP Gallery, his painting titled “Candle Light, Still Life” is an example of such an overlap of styles. In the front part of the painting there is a traditional still life, but a hint of Surrealism gazes back at the viewer from a mirror through the eyes of a nude figure.

“Polish Artist Zbigniew Kopania, One Man Show” can be seen through November 6 at HOFP Gallery, 2828 Devine St. in Columbia. For more information, call the gallery at 799-7405.

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