Bronisław Wojciech Linke

Bronisław Linke’s pessimistic, but also radical, engaged, leftist stance was shaped to an enormous degree by his experience of World War I. Even as a teenager, the artist attentively observed and recorded in his drawings the nightmare of war violence. Throughout his entire later life, Linke created expressive works with social and political themes, using aggressive and sharp means of expression. His non-realist grim visions are supposed to shock and terrify viewers as well as confront them with a moralizing, often anti-war and anti-capitalist message. The exhibited painting, Two Camps (Today), is a composition abounding in macabre details, depicting two conflicted factions: a workers’ demonstration that cries with bloody tears and merges into a single monstrous body and an army of horrendous toy soldiers in gas masks carrying banknotes on their banners and headed by a dictator with a coin face. The walls in the backdrop of the scene are covered with obituaries, inscriptions, advertisements and posters, in which Linke mocks nationalistic and militaristic propaganda with grim irony. The painting offers a critical portrait of Poland in the 1930s, with its tense socio-political situation, rising authoritarianism, and a tide of oppression and violence flooding the country.

Bronisław Wojciech Linke (b. 1906 in Dorpat, d. 1962 in Warsaw) – Polish painter and graphic artist. He studied at the School of Artistic Industry in Kraków and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He collaborated as an illustrator with popular magazines, for which he created satirical drawings with social, political and moral themes. Deported to Orsk in the Ural region during World War II, Linke returned to Warsaw in 1946. After the war, he continued his creative practice, working as an illustrator, poster artist and stage designer. Until the end of his life he held a reputation of being controversial, and his pieces were seldom exhibited. The grim, pessimistic atmosphere of his works did not match the official requirements of optimistic communist propaganda.

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