Rafal Olbinski, internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest living Surrealist painters, will be exhibiting at two new galleries in SoHo. Studio Vendome is located in architect Philip Johnson’s Urban Glass House at 330 Spring Street. It is featuring 30 larger Olbinski oils on canvas. The second gallery, Studio Vendome Projects, is located at 30 Grand Street and is exhibiting 13 smaller-formated oils on canvas. The shows will run from December 11, 2013 to January 11, 2014.
The show’s curator, Peter Hastings Falk, points out that Olbinski was recently elected to the “Rediscovered Masters” exhibition series by an Art Advisory Board composed of distinguished museum directors, curators, historians, and critics. A hardcover book, The Virtue of Ambiguity, is being published for the exhibition and will be released at the opening reception to be held on Wednesday, December 11th from 6-9 pm. Profusely illustrated, the book includes essays by the renowned art critic Robert C. Morgan and Olbinski’s biographer, Izabela Gabrielson.
Born in Kielce, Poland in 1945, Olbinski studied architecture before dedicating himself to painting and poster design. In 1970 he became art director of Jazz Forum, the iconic international jazz magazine founded in Poland in 1965. He was a key member of the Polish School of Posters, which exerted a significant influence upon international graphic design. In 1981, when martial law was declared in Poland, Olbinski happened to be in New York attending an exhibition of his work at The Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA). Unable to return to Poland, he was surprised to have found himself “trapped” in America, the promised land of freedom for many immigrants.
Settling in New York, Olbinski quickly won wide recognition for his large series of surreal posters created for the New York Opera and for numerous magazine covers for hundreds of publications such as Newsweek, Time, Business Week, Atlantic Monthly, Omni, The New York Times, New Yorker and many others. Like the great Surrealists before him, Olbinski views the mind as a theater of dreams and his resulting images as maps of the interior of the mind. These images are layered with psychological complexity, but they emit a poetic resonance that finds universal appeal. The comparisons are most often with Magritte — and this has earned him the epithet, “Prince of Surrealism.” When art critic Robert C. Morgan met Olbinski in his Manhattan studio, his first impression was that, “Somehow these compressed, old world quarters seem to match perfectly with Olbinski’s brilliantly complex and paradoxical imagery, filled with mutated classical-style figures, fish, birds, buildings, costumes, and incredible landscapes.”
Olbinski has won more than one-hundred awards, including gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Club of New York; and comparable awards in London and Paris. In 1994 he was awarded the World’s Most Memorable Poster by UNESCO. In 1995 his poster, New York, Capital of the World, was chosen for Zagat. He also designed two Earth Day posters. His works are in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in Japan, Library of Congress Print Collection in Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Foundation in New York, the National Arts Club in New York, and various corporate and private collections.
The galleries of Studio Vendome are uniquely positioned to showcase late career artists and artist estate collections deserving greater critical recognition. They opened in September by Antonio Vendome, chairman of the Vendome Group. These eponymous galleries are located in West SoHo’s burgeoning Hudson Square district. Mr. Vendome’s vision for approaching the art world in a different way was developed during the 1980s and 1990s owing to his close professional relationship with Philip Johnson, the great modernist American architect. The Manhattan real estate developer explained, “Philip Johnson designed the critically acclaimed ‘Habitable Sculpture’ which I intend to build one day to continue his legacy and establish the true value of architecture as art, which will highlight Johnson’s lasting impact on the American landscape.” Vendome’s overarching initiative is therefore to present visually compelling exhibitions for both galleries.