Jacek Yerka: Surrealist Paintings

Jacek Yerka (1952-) is a Polish artist whose surrealist art combines fantastical vision with a “meticulous Flemish technique”. Salvador Dali, Remedios Varo and Giuseppe Arcimboldo are undoubtedly influences, and below I present eight works that explore (i) imaginary worlds, (ii) dream-worlds and (iii) interiors.

I. Imaginary Worlds (4): (1) Don’t Slam the Door [1993]; (2) The Winter Wave [2005]; (3) Brontosaurus Civitas [2004] & (4) Wegener’s Theory [2001].

These four absurdist, fantastical, gravity-defying landscape paintings fire imagination. The second painting’s starting point might have been Hokusai‘s The Great Wave [1831] and the fourth painting takes Alfred Wegener’s the then original theory further that continental landmasses are “drifting”, “interacting” with each other in the process.

II. Dream-Worlds (2): (1) Last Minute [2000] & (2) Dream [2011].

The first painting shows a peaceful, hidden place of solace in the middle of one polluted and hectic city. It is tempting to imagine an easy access to this natural habitat after a long day’s work. The second painting fuses the real presentation of one’s bedroom with the imaginary components taken from one’s dream.

III. Interiors (2): (1) Polish Cuisine [2012] & Boudoir ]2007].

Jacek Yerka excels in painting the inverted worlds of interiors. Here two paintings show each side of the room having its own separate world, emphasising the changing viewing perspective.

12 thoughts on “Jacek Yerka: Surrealist Paintings

  1. Fabulous paintings! I’ll have to check out Yerka and Varo further, as both are unknown to me. Over the years, I’ve very gradually come to appreciate surrealist art. One of my faavorite artists is Max Beckman; although I’m not sure he’s classified as a surrealist.
    https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78367 (if you click, make sure to check out the details; they’re horrifying). I also like Max Ernst. https://www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu/node/11286

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    1. I can’t say I am familiar with either Max Beckman or Max Ernst so thanks a lot, I will sure check them out too! Ernst’s art is very curious!

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      1. Although I like both, I actually prefer Beckman. His “Departure” triptych was painted in the early 1930s, when he was being forced out of Germany by the Nazis. It’s wonderful, if very dark.
        If you’d like to read a surrealist novel, I’d recommend “The Hearing Trumpet”, by Dora Carrington (Max Ernst’s girl friend and herself a surrealist painter), which was recently re-published by NYRB Classics. If you can survive the first 20 pages or so, it’s fascinating, as are her paintings.

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  2. We’re living in an almost surrealist world now, aren’t we, ans many of these magnificent paintings feel, well, both shocking and familiar. I agree about the Max Ernst resonances in some, and there’s also a very children’s picture book feel about the interior images, almost a hint of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Thanks for bringing Varo and Yerka to our attention.

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    1. I agree about a children’s picture book feel! The fantastical world paintings also remind me strongly of Schuiten & Peeters work in Les Cités obscures, which is a great Belgian graphic novel series.

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  3. 🛌🧞🌳🏙 I’m drawn particularly to Part II. Dream Worlds. And I love that you organized these for some context! “Last Minute” conjures the image of that refuge all city dwellers need, whether it’s finding that hidden city park for a stroll, good read, or escaping into your own mind after a hard day’s work, perhaps with a relaxing substance of choice. And I adore the cat on the shore in “Dreams” as the Watch-kitty🌙🐈‍⬛🕯. Which is your favorite? -E.F.

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