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Franciszka Themerson’s Lines and Thoughts on display at Shoreditch’s l’étrangère gallery

PUBLISHED: 10:30 15 November 2016

Franciszka Themerson - Double-flute (third version), c.1955 -� Themerson Estate, courtesy of l'�trang�re

Franciszka Themerson - Double-flute (third version), c.1955 -� Themerson Estate, courtesy of l'�trang�re

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Three paintings, Pietons Apocalypse, A Person I Know and Coil Totem, anchor the exhibition, while her drawings are characterised by continuous lines and amusing depictions of day to day life.

An exhibition by Polish artist Franciszka Themerson opens at l’étrangère gallery in Shoreditch, with paintings, drawings and calligrammes on display from the post-war era when she had settled in England.

Three paintings, Pietons Apocalypse, A Person I Know and Coil Totem, anchor the exhibition, while her drawings are characterised by continuous lines and amusing depictions of day to day life.

Themerson’s art is alive with story-telling, and the titles of her work are often inspired by works of poets and philosophers such as Gertrude Stein but she claims to have felt the most affinity with the nonsense writing of Edward Lear, Jonathan Swift and Lewis Carroll, the last of whose books she illustrated in 1946.

Born in Warsaw in 1907 to a painter father and pianist mother, Themerson studied art and music from an early age. After marrying Stefan Thermson, a writer and photographer, they began to produce experimental films together and founded the Filmmakers Cooperative. They were considered to be the most influential filmmakers in this field in pre-war Poland

Moving to Paris in 1938, Themerson was evacuated to London following the outbreak of World War II and France’s surrender, due to her work with the Polish government-in-exile.

“I did not think it out. I painted it out. And now I let it develop within its own laws,” she said of her work.

This is apparent in the constant motion of her hand on the page and reflected in the name of the exhibition, Lines and Thoughts.

Franciszka Themerson’s Lines and Thoughts runs until December 16 at l’étrangère gallery in Shoreditch, which is open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm or by appointment.

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