Dissolving Skin and Decaying Bone… Zdzisław Beksiński
Death is a mystery that humankind is compelled to explore. Some people deny its existence, clinging to a life after death, others embrace its nothingness. Still others, like Zdzisław Beksiński, create with their minds a dead land, where skin has dissolved from flesh and flesh from bone, a place dedicated to the warmth of decay. Unlike many who envision a nightmare landscape, Beksiński’s world is not a cold one – his scenes may focus on a dead subject, but they pulsate with life. Looking at paintings from his “fantastic period,” I feel a moist, warm breeze touch my skin, as if the humid breath of a decaying land surrounds me. More often than not, he paints in warm colors, and his subjects move in an almost underwater-like way, a slow motion undulation and flutter. The whole scene has the texture and fragility of blood vessels, as if the world he depicts exists just under our skin, its spongy texture pulsating with our life force. His life and work has made him a hero in his home town of Sanok, Poland, and his death by murder in 2005 makes him a tragic figure, whose lonely and macabre imagery takes on a new significance.