Born in Poland in 1929, Zdzisław Beksiński is perhaps one of the most renowned surreal artists in the world. Sadly, he was murdered in Warsaw in 2005, robbing the world of this tender man who only wanted to paint his nightmares. Beksiński rarely named his pieces, and never set them up in any order for showings. Primarily influenced by music, he was a pleasant man who faced so much pain and suffering in his life. He was a painter, sculptor and photographer, and up until his death, was enjoying working in the digital realm.
I found his art late in my life, after he died as a matter of fact, from the cover of the B&N edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and Other Weird Tales. ‘The Trumpeter’ as it’s often called, is very fitting for that particular edition; face hidden in shadow, many fingered hands holding the notes for an evil melody. A quick internet search for Beksiński lead me down a deep and dark rabbit hole that hit all the right nerves. A painter inspired by music inspiring my fiction, what else could anyone ask for?
There are a few of his art books online for somewhat reasonable prices, but if you’re just wanting to browse, there’s an excellent website with several galleries with hundreds of decent scans of his work. Of course, copying and pasting his name in a search engine will yield excellent results as well. Themes of ceremony, ritual, and religion take on a sinister edge in some of his works, while the same themes seem full of hope and redemption. Apocalyptic landscapes, often sand-blown and scorched, are beautifully rendered. Faces devoid of features scream primal emotion and suffering directly. Surreal yet powerfully realistic, all exquisitely nightmarish, it would be easy for any writer, any artist really, to feel inspired viewing Beksiński’s work, whether focusing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, or the Weird. He’s informed much of my own work, and I know he’ll influence you as well.