Jan de Weryha-Wysoczański

Jan de Weryha standing in front of his work “Wooden Panel” (2001)
Jan de Weryha standing in front of his work “Wooden Panel” (2001). Various types of wood, nails, 412 x 216 x 18 cm. Taken in the de Weryha Collection, Hamburg, 2014
Jan de Weryha – Modern Abstract Art in Wood


Parallels with abstract modernism are obvious. Memories are evoked by a tour of the museum-like exhibition rooms in Hamburg-Bergedorf (the so-called de Weryha Collection), which are affiliated to the studio of the Polish-born sculptor (ill. 94-97) and which offer a representative cross-section of his work over the last two decades. When people with some knowledge of art look at de Weryha's works, they can discern tendencies in abstract modernism that go back to the second decade of the twentieth century. Above all, they are able to identify those movements and currents of abstract art in which geometry, serial structures, and a radiance of the material – whatever its manifestations – which played pivotal roles, and which still retain their significance and exert their influence over generations of artists today.

In particular, the "Wooden Panels" created by de Weryha since 2001 reveal geometric, grid-like and reticular structures that were invented in painting in the years after 1910 and were further developed in object art in the following decades. In de Weryha's work these structures can be rigorous and regular (ill. 45, 58, 91), or they can exhibit irregularities caused by the natural shape of the material, its processing or its arrangement (ill. 34, 39, 80). The Dutch artist Piet Mondrian laid the foundation for regular geometric patterns in the visual arts in Paris before the First World War, when he decided to break with the figurative forms of the Cubists Braque and Picasso and translate impressions of nature, such as the structure of a firewall or the rhythm of the sea, into grid-like rectangular patterns and short, intersecting lines in grey and white.

The group De Stijl, founded in 1917 in Leiden by Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Georges Vantongerloo, consistently replaced impressions of the representational world with geometric compositions in order to contrast the outwardly perceived shape of things with a pure man-made art. The aesthetic balance of different sized forms and colours in the painted pictorial surface, soon applied to interiors and architecture. Depending on the artist, this could pursue meditative dimensions, prepare egalitarian structures in society, or present art appropriate to the machine age and its anonymised work processes. Serial patterns did not yet play a role. However, non-objective, numbered picture titles became the norm. This custom has been preserved to this day in many areas of contemporary art by dispensing with work titles or always using the same designations. Nowadays, after several years of "untitled" works, De Weryha generally uses the terms "wooden object" or "wooden panel": terms that differ only in the years of origin.

The possible redundancy in the exclusive use of rectangles was addressed by De Stijl artists like Bart van der Leck and Vilmos Huszar who introduced irregular polygons and triangles. This can also be observed in de Weryha (ill. 76, 91). Their German successors like Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Carl Buchheister and Erich Buchholz (now known as constructivists), added new colours, serial strokes and combinations of rectangles and circles. In the 1940s Mondrian readmitted serial patterns and impressions from the environment, for example from music. Just as he once led the viewer rhythmically through the picture along lines and serial squares to prominent rectangular shapes, de Weryha now guides the viewer along a comparatively regular grid through rhythmic distributions to ever new formal experiences across the surface of his objects (ill. 34). Anyone who wants, can also find in de Weryha's work the original form of the abstract geometric design, the "Black Square" (1913/15) by Kasimir Malewitsch, albeit with altered dimensions and in modified colours (ill. 68, 70). The monochrome square, which Malevich called the "sensation of non-objectivity", enables de Weryha to concentrate entirely on the optical and haptic quality of his material. Indeed, wood as a material in different colours and shapes and wood-like scraps of plant like bark and reed play a decisive role in his work. Through the use of geometric arrangement, de Weryha liberates the material from its natural contexts and transforms it into an objectified form.

Mediathek
  • untitled, 1997

    ill.1: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Basswood 299 x 241 x 26 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 2: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Alder, 104 x 20 x 15 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 3: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Various types of wood, 228 x 84 x 51 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 4: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Various types of wood, 119 x 111 x 28 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 5: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Larch wood, 245 x 164 x 88 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 6: untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Maple, 463 x 125 x 15 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1997

    ill. 7:untitled, 1997

    untitled, 1997. Oak, 100 x 38 x 4.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1998

    ill. 8: untitled, 1998

    untitled, 1998. Various types of wood, 248 x 222 x 14 cm (1st Prize, Prix du Jury, at the Salon de Printemps 98 – European Competition for Contemporary Art –, Luxemburg 1998), de Weryha Collection, Ha...
  • untitled, 1998

    ill. 9: untitled, 1998

    untitled, 1998. Various types of wood, 450 x 230 x 56 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1998

    ill. 10: untitled, 1998

    untitled, 1998. Maple, 90 x 75 x 39 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1998

    ill. 11: untitled, 1998

    untitled, 1998. Basswood, 175 x 75 x 18 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 12: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Basswood, 251 x 140 x 34 cm, National Museum in Stettin/Muzeum Narodowe w Szczecinie
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 13: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Maple, 500 x 190 x 15 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 14: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Oak, 132 x 115 x 12 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 15: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Various types of wood, cardboard boxes, 320 x 145 x 27 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 16: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Various types of wood, 356 x 356 x 14 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 1999

    ill. 17: untitled, 1999

    untitled, 1999. Larch, 1140 x 120 x 55, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    ill. 18a: Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    Neuengamme Memorial, 1999. 30 roughly hewn granite blocks on a 24 m² area of polished granite slabs, granite gravel path. Commissioned by the Bund der Polen in Deutschland e.V. In memory of the person...
  • Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    ill. 18b: Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    Neuengamme Memorial, 1999. Commissioned by the Bund der Polen in Deutschland e.V. In memory of the persons deported from the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Neuengamme concentration camp, Hamburg, Polish mem...
  • Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    ill. 18c: Neuengamme Memorial, 1999

    Neuengamme Memorial, 1999. Commissioned by the Bund der Polen in Deutschland e.V. In memory of the persons deported from the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Neuengamme concentration camp, Hamburg, German mem...
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 19: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Maple, 120 x 120 x 36 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 20: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Oak, charcoaled, 220 x 60 x 58 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 21: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Willow, 220 x 58 x 58 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 22: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Various types of wood, 195 x 195 x 15 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 23: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Basswood, 97 x 97 x 29 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 24: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Chestnut, partly with bark, 260 x 140 x 56 cm, Museum of Modern Art, Radom/Muzeum Sztuki Współczesnej w Radomiu
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 25: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Bark, 90 x 90 x 34 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000

    ill. 26: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Willow, 90 x 90 x 35 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2000.

    ill. 27: untitled, 2000

    untitled, 2000. Basswood, 200 x 197 x 55 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2001

    ill. 28: Wooden Panel, 2001

    Wooden Panel, 2001. Various types of wood, partially charcoaled, nails, 412 x 220 x 17 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2001

    ill. 29: untitled, 2001

    untitled, 2001. Maple, 156 x 156 x 26 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2001

    ill. 30: untitled, 2001

    untitled, 2001. Various types of wood, 350 x 106 x 43 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2001

    ill. 31: Wooden Panel, 2001

    Wooden Panel, 2001. Various types of wood, nails, 412 x 216 x 18 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2001

    ill. 32: Wooden Panel, 2001

    Wooden Panel, 2001. Spruce, charcoaled, birch, nails, 470 x 240 x 17 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2002.

    ill. 33: Wooden Panel, 2002

    Wooden Panel, 2002. Spruce, charcoaled, oak, maple, bark, 404 x 204 x 26 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2002.

    ill. 34: Wooden Panel, 2002

    Wooden Panel, 2002. Maple, charcoaled, 100 x 100 x 9 cm, Królikowski-Collection, Dąbrówka Wielka/Poland
  • Wooden Panel, 2002

    ill. 35: Wooden Panel, 2002

    Wooden Panel, 2002. Spruce, charcoaled, bark, nails, 310 x 100 x 7 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2002

    ill. 36: Wooden Panel, 2002

    Wooden Panel, 2002. Spruce, patinated, oak bark, 106 x 106 x 20 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2002

    ill. 37: Wooden Panel, 2002

    Wooden Panel, 2002. Spruce, charcoaled, maple, 101 x 101 x 9 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden pillar, 2003

    ill. 38: Wooden pillar, 2003

    Wooden pillar, 2003. Bark, wood, 285 x 100 x 100 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2003

    ill. 39: Wooden Panel, 2003

    Wooden Panel, 2003. Bark, 253 x 200 x 11 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Cube, 2003

    ill. 40: Wooden Cube, 2003

    Wooden Cube, 2003. Various types of wood, 230 x 230 x 230 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2003

    ill. 41: untitled, 2003

    untitled, 2003. Various types of wood, 880 x 220 x 16 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2003

    ill. 42: Wooden Panel, 2003

    Wooden Panel, 2003. Various types of wood, 440 x 220 x 16 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2003

    ill. 43: Wooden Panel, 2003

    Wooden Panel, 2003. Spruce, charcoaled, Various types of wood, nails, 150 x 150 x 9 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2003

    ill. 44: Wooden Panel, 2003

    Wooden Panel, 2003. Spruce charcoaled, bark, nails, 150 x 150 x 9 cm, Centre for Polish Sculpture, Orońsko/Centrum Rzeźby Polskiej w Orońsku
  • untitled, 2004

    ill. 45: untitled, 2004

    untitled, 2004. Spruce charcoaled, nails, 150 x 150 x 18 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2004

    ill. 46: untitled, 2004

    untitled, 2004. Spruce charcoaled, bark, nails, 156 x 156 x 8 cm, Privately owned: Dr. S. Ropohl, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2005

    ill. 47: untitled, 2005

    untitled, 2005. Various types of wood, 284 x 39 x 20 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2005

    ill. 48: untitled, 2005

    untitled, 2005. Poplar, 320 x 320 x 40 cm, Owner: Galeria Szyb Wilson, Kattowitz
  • untitled, 2005

    ill. 49: untitled, 2005

    untitled, 2005. Various types of wood, 480 x 280 x 45 cm (Detail). de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Artwork on Architecture, 2005

    ill. 50: Artwork on Architecture, 2005

    Artwork on Architecture, 2005. Robinia, 25 m2, Height 45 cm, Gymnasium Eckhorst, Bargteheide
  • untitled, 2006

    ill. 51: untitled, 2006

    untitled, 2006. Birch, 900 x 240 x 14 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2006

    ill. 52: Wooden Panel, 2006

    Wooden Panel, 2006. Various types of wood, 890 x 234 x 15 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Orońsko, 2006

    ill. 53: Orońsko, 2006

    Orońsko, 2006. Birch, 900 x 900 x 50 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2006

    ill. 54: Wooden Object, 2006

    Wooden Object, 2006. Branches, 220 x 170 x 40 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2006

    ill. 55: Wooden Object, 2006

    Wooden Object, 2006. Branches, 235 x 170 x 43 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2006

    ill. 56: Wooden Object, 2006

    Wooden Object, 2006. Various types of wood, 280 x 243 x 55 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2006

    ill. 57: Wooden Object, 2006

    Wooden Object, 2006. Birch branches, 310 x 310 x 220 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2007

    ill. 58: Wooden Panel, 2007

    Wooden Panel, 2007. Spruce, charcoaled, reeds, 82 x 82 x 9 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2007

    ill. 59: untitled, 2007

    untitled, 2007. Spruce, charcoaled, 700 x 200 x 10 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2008

    ill. 60: Wooden Object, 2008

    Wooden Object, 2008. Birch, 900 x 900 x 43 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2008

    ill. 61: Wooden Object, 2008

    Wooden Object, 2008. Various types of wood, 800 x 800 x 18 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2009

    ill. 62: Wooden Panel, 2009

    Wooden Panel, 2009. Spruce, charcoaled, maple, 101 x 101 x 20 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2009

    ill. 63: Wooden Panel, 2009

    Wooden Panel, 2009. Spruce, charcoaled, twigs, 101 x 101 x 10 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2010.

    ill. 64: Wooden Panel, 2010

    Wooden Panel, 2010. Oak, nails, 140 x 140 x 11 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • untitled, 2010.

    ill. 65: untitled, 2010

    untitled, 2010. Bark, 243 x 170 x 53 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2010.

    ill. 66: Wooden Panel, 2010

    Wooden Panel, 2010. Spruce, charcoaled, wood stems, 25.5 x 25.5 x 8 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Chilehaus five lines, 2011

    ill. 67: Chilehaus five lines, 2011

    Chilehaus five lines, 2011. Birch, 9000 x 230 x 14 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2011

    ill. 68: Wooden Panel, 2011

    Wooden Panel, 2011. Spruce, lavender, 34 x 34 x 8.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2011

    ill. 69: Wooden Panel, 2011

    Wooden Panel, 2011. Poplar, 50 x 50 x 18 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2011

    ill. 70: Wooden Panel, 2011

    Wooden Panel, 2011. Spruce, charcoaled, spruce needles, 28 x 28 x 11.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2012

    ill. 71: Wooden Panel, 2012

    Wooden Panel, 2012. Poplar, 50 x 50 x 8.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Bergedorf Memorial, 201

    ill. 72a: Bergedorf Memorial, 2012

    Bergedorf Memorial, 2012. To the memory of the forced labourers of the Nazi rule in Bergedorf, on the initiative of the AG Gedenken, Schleusengraben-Promenade am Kampdeich in Hamburg-Bergedorf, concre...
  • Bergedorf Memorial, 2012

    ill. 72b: Bergedorf Memorial, 2012

    Bergedorf Memorial, 2012. To the memory of the forced labourers of the Nazi rule in Bergedorf, on the initiative of the AG Gedenken, Schleusengraben-Promenade am Kampdeich in Hamburg-Bergedorf, concre...
  • Bergedorf Memorial, 2012

    ill. 72c: Bergedorf Memorial, 2012

    Bergedorf Memorial, 2012. To the memory of the forced labourers of the Nazi rule in Bergedorf, on the initiative of the AG Gedenken, Schleusengraben-Promenade am Kampdeich in Hamburg-Bergedorf; memori...
  • Wooden Panel, 2012

    ill. 73: Wooden Panel, 2012

    Wooden Panel, 2012. Poplar, 50 x 50 x 9 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 74: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Spruce, 106 x 102 x 23 cm, Centre for Polish Sculpture, Orońsko/ Centrum Rzeźby Polskiej w Orońsku
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 75: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Spruce, 104.5 x 104.5 x 12.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 76: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Poplar, 50 x 50 x 8.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 77: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Cut reeds on wooden board, 50 x 50 x 9.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 78: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Spruce, 106 x 104 x 10 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 79: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Spruce, 106 x 104 x 10 cm (Detail), de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2013

    ill. 80: Wooden Panel, 2013

    Wooden Panel, 2013. Spruce, broken and cut on wooden board, 120 x 118 x 10.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 81: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and freely arranged, 400 x 400 x 39 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 82: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and broken, wooden dowels, 187 x 187 x 16 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 83: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and broken, 119 x 119 x 16 cm, Kunstsammlung Birkel, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 84: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and broken, 119 x 119 x 16 cm (Side view), Kunstsammlung Birkel, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 85: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and broken, 145 x 145 x 10.5 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2014

    ill. 86: Wooden Object, 2014

    Wooden Object, 2014. Poplar, cut and broken, 142 x 142 x 21 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2015

    ill. 87: Wooden Object, 2015

    Wooden Object, 2015. Spruce, cut and broken, wooden dowels, 135 x 135 x 18 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2015

    ill. 88: Wooden Object, 2015

    Wooden Object, 2015. Spruce, cut and broken, wooden dowels, 200 x 200 x 17 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2015

    ill. 89: Wooden Object, 2015

    Wooden Object, 2015. Spruce, cut and broken, wooden dowels, 196 x 196 x 10 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2016

    ill. 90: Wooden Panel, 2016

    Wooden Panel, 2016. Spruce, cut and broken, 107.5 x 107.5 x 14 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2016

    ill. 91: Wooden Panel, 2016

    Wooden Panel, 2016. Spruce, cut and split, 115 x 115 x 8 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Panel, 2017

    ill. 92: Wooden Panel, 2017

    Wooden Panel, 2017. Spruce, cut and split, 115 x 115 x 8 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • Wooden Object, 2017

    ill. 93: Wooden Object, 2017

    Wooden Object, 2017. Spruce, cut and broken, wooden dowels, 250 x 198 x 198 cm, de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    ill. 94: de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    ill. 95: de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    ill. 96: de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    de Weryha Collection, Hamburg
  • de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    ill. 97: de Weryha Collection, Hamburg

    de Weryha Collection, Hamburg