Julian Stanczak: Virtuoso of Color and Light

For this month’s artist feature, I’m excited to explore the works of Polish American artist, Julian Stanczak. I appreciate his masterful approach to combining color and light in his work. Currently, there is an exhibition of his work at one of my favorite galleries in California, the Diane Rosenstein Gallery. The exhibition opened on Feb 5 and lasts until April 2. So if you happen to be in California during this time, I highly recommend checking it out.

About the Artist

Artist Julian Stanczak standing in front of his art pieces.

Julian Stanczak was born in Poland in 1928 during World War II. He was sent to a labor camp in Siberia where he lost the use of his right hand for good. At age fourteen, he escaped and lived as a refugee in Uganda. It was there that he learned how to paint with his left hand. Living in Uganda had an impact on Julian. He stated that his reverence for color came from his desire to translate the drama and power of nature into a universal impression. In the 1950s Stanczak migrated to the United States. He received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1954 and his MFA from Yale University in 1956.

Stanczak was a methodical artist and his process was complex. He used tape masks to systematically add and uveil colors in layers. Instead of using sketches or studies, he relied on his intuitive understanding of color and balance when creating his art. Many recognize Julian Stanczak as a pioneer of optical painting or Op Art in the 1960s. For another artist that creates Op Art, check out Patrick Rubinstein.

About Julian Stanczak’s Current Exhibit

Installation views of Julian Stanczak's exhibit, The Light Inside.

Julian Stanczak’s exhibit, is entitled The Light Inside. According to the exhibition’s website, the series explores the artist’s intuitive use of color and geometric abstraction to create a sense of radiant light. He created this series in Cleveland between 1972 and 1987. It resonates with the themes of the California Light and Space movement.

Most of the art pieces on display at this exhibit are a grid pattern of squares over a monochromatic field. His work can be described as “geometric minimalism”. His minimal compositions reflect his desire to connect with his viewers through perception.

Artworks from The Light Inside

The following pieces are some of Julian Stanczak’s artwork from his current exhibit. I love how each of the pieces have a glow to them. It’s impressive how he achieved this effect only using acrylic on canvas.

An art piece by Julian Stanczak with light pastel colors and grids.

This piece entitled Soft is stunning. I love the colors used in this piece. They make the piece cheerful and calming at the same time.

An art piece with grids in shades of blue.

This piece is entitled Brisk. I like how the center of the piece is a bold blue while the edges fade out. The shades of blue make this piece reminiscent of a brisk, cold, wind.

A vibrant art piece with orange and gold colors.

This piece is called Early Haze. I love how energetic this piece feels. The bright orange and gold evoke a sense of happiness.

More Artwork by Julian Stanczak

An art piece with small grids and layered shapes.

Julian Stanczak created this piece Connecting in the 1960s. I’m fascinated by how tiny the grids are in this piece. The way he layered and made the different shapes connect makes this piece visually captivating.

An art piece with layered grids giving off the feeling of movement.

This piece is called Firefly. Like a firely, it captures a buzzing movement. The colors are vibrant and lively. The deep blue background can resemble the sky while it appears like there is a light emitting from the center of the piece.

An art piece with small pink grids and layered yellow boxes in the middle.

Stanczak ironically named this piece Green Light although there appears to be no green on the canvas. If you stare at the piece long enough, you might start to feel like the yellow boxes are dancing.

Julian Stanczak is truly a master of color and light. His talent for capturing color, light, and movement is something to admire. I hope you enjoyed exploring his visually stimulating art with me.

Which piece was your favorite?

For another artist feature, check out this post on muralist Eduardo Kobra.