DOLISH art never departs far from
its origins. Adam Kossowski's paintings and ceramics (Ashley Gallery), although products of our own time, are links hs a Strong chain forged even before the advent of that medieval master, Wit Stwosz, whom Kossowski strongly resembles.
It was Stwosz who put new life into the art of Central Europe in the 15th century. Kossowski may well do the same for English religious art now. Stwosz made an enormous triptych of the Dormition of the Virgin for the Church of Our Lady of Cracow. It was the last work of the Middle Ages. Calm formality, characteristic of the Middle Ages, had vanished and in its place was a modern restlessness of movement, violent expression, a passionate outpouring of temperament.
Kossowski works in the same mood as Stwosz; his figures are elongated and their garments, falling first in smooth curves and then in abrupt and angular folds. portray the tension beneath. Vivid and mobile, exuberant and violent though his figures are. Kossowski manages to preserve a still centre of contemplation at the heart of his work. Dramatic always, Kossowski only very rarely drops into the theatrical. The dis
tinction is a fine one, and it is a
measure of his sensibility that he is aware of the balancing point.
His present exhibition displays his virtuosity as a master of the ceramic art. To see its full development it will be necessary later to go to Aylesford where he is completing a series of ceramic plaques for the garden of the Mysteries of the Rosary.
But in the Ashley collection 1 would single out his Last Supper as his highest achievement. To each of
the 13 figures he has given strongly individual characteristics.
Judas sits alone and expresses his moment of indecision by the reluctance with which he draws his hand away from the table, contradicted by the turning of his gate in the opposite direction.
The table is swept clear of any distracting dishes so that the attention may be riveted on the main protagonists of the drama.
The ceramics (to be looked upon as paintings, not sculptures, the artist says) are so original and flamboyant an art form that they tend to take the eye from the oils and the watercolours. Yet there is a monumentality in the oils and an excited sureness of line about the watercolours that is rare indeed.