Ask Morgana 194: Adam Styka

as0Adam Styka (1890-1959) was a French-educated, Polish painter who specialised in Orientalism.

Orientalism, specifically in painting, was a movement in art that is now seen by some commentators as being patronising to the cultures it purports to depict. Even its orientation is questioned, because the ‘Orient’ to which it refers may be as far West as, say, Morocco. In Styka’s case, his travels were mainly in North Africa, and the examples here show bare-breasted dancing girls.

Orientalism is often described as ‘a form of radical realism’, but to me it seems almost to have an element of Romanticism, inasmuch as the Berbers and Bedouin depicted are larger than life, imbued with a kind of sturdy, naive perfection. I often think of the style as ‘the Brighton Pavillion of painting’.

I can say that Styka’s women certainly have a joi de vivre








Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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