Inspiration: Zdzisław Beksiński

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Considering that my two upcoming short stories are in the horror genre, I couldn’t pass on the chance to acknowledge a date that is a staple of horror stories and films alike.

Untitled (I think) sketch by Beksiński.

Untitled (I think) sketch by Beksiński.

Just yesterday, in my daily surfing of the Internet, I came across sketches by the artist Zdzisław Beksiński, and I have rapidly become obsessed with his work. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of him or seen any of his paintings or sketches before . Once more I find myself grateful for the Internet. One minute I think I’m wasting time, and the next I stumble upon some great source of inspiration.

From the minute I saw a small collection of Beksiński’s sketches, I knew I had to find more of his work. I wanted to see all the creepy and fascinating pieces he had produced, wanted to let my imagination be filled with his macabre images. And now I want to share what I found with you.

In my searching, I learned that sadly Beksiński was murdered in 2005. I also learned that he apparently had never been formally trained as an artist; he studied architecture, and after that be began with photography and then also started sketching and painting. So I find not only his work inspiring but also his story. As someone who has never had formal training as a writer, it’s nice to find role models who have a similar background even in a different creative field.

The Horn Player by Beksiński.

The Horn Player by Beksiński.

I’m not much of an artist myself (I can barely draw stick figures), and while I have a general appreciation for art I rarely have an artist whose work I enjoy without reservation. I might see one piece in a museum or online that I find inspiring or that captivates me, but this is one of the few times when a handful of images has set off a rapid obsession with an artist and revealed a portfolio of work I find captivating. Since I stumbled across The Horn Player (although I don’t know if that’s a title Beksiński came up with, as he apparently did not title most of his work), it has burned itself into my brain. I can’t say that I mind.

I’m floored by his ability to convey characters and scenery that is so unlike what we know and yet still has aspects that seem familiar. It alienates you while pulling you in. And it makes me want to write stories full of macabre creatures and settings. The Horn Player seems menacing, but what if it’s simply what it appears: a musician? Or what if it IS sinister. Is it summoning hordes of creatures like itself, and if so for what purpose? I could go on and on with the maelstrom of questions this painting (and most Beksiński’s other works) summons in my head.

The Embrace by Beksiński.

The Embrace by Beksiński.

And then there are paintings that manage to be both creepy and tender. Are those humanoid creatures alive, or did they die in each other’s embrace? What could have killed them? Or is it possible one is feeding off the other? Perhaps they’ve become a living amalgam, one trying to assimilate the other. I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a work that manages to break my heart and make my skin crawl at the same time.

Considering he had no formal art training, I find the detail and realism in his work all the more impressive. I can imagine the boat drifting on the water, hear the horn playing, feel the bony arms around my body.

And, of course, his work is thematically appropriate for Friday the 13th. So I just had to share my new found inspiration. I hope Beksiński’s work will spark your imagination—or fuel your nightmares.

Some additional links:

About Nicole DeGennaro

Burgeoning writer, insatiable reader, and continuous dreamer.
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2 Responses to Inspiration: Zdzisław Beksiński

  1. Dave says:

    Nicole – what a find. This guy’s art is amazingly creepy, yet beautiful. My favorite of the pics you have here is the skeletal couple embracing each other. Describing it as breaking your heart yet making your skin crawl is perfect.

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