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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 27, 2011
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Polish Artist on Show in India
October 27, 2011   
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The National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, India and its counterpart in Mumbai will be showing paintings by Polish artist Stefan Norblin (1892-1952) from November to January. The exhibition has been put together by the Regional Museum in stalowa Wola, some 250 km southeast of Warsaw.

Norblin was a Polish graphic artist, painter, illustrator and poster designer who is primarily known for his modernist and Art Nouveau advertising posters as well as his Art Deco paintings and frescoes.

Born in Warsaw into an artistic family (his great-grandfather Piotr Norblin was a well-known painter), Norblin studied painting in Antwerp, Belgium and in Dresden, Germany. He painted portraits of politicians, financiers and artists and produced posters for theaters, cinemas, municipalities and companies including the Polish State Railways.

After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Norblin and his wife, popular actress Lena Żelichowska, left Warsaw. In 1940 they reached Iraq via Romania, Italy and Turkey. In Baghdad, Norblin, by then known internationally thanks to exhibitions of his work in cities such as Munich in 1929 and Prague in 1934, portrayed King Faisal II, his family and the diplomatic corps. In 1941, Norblin arrived in Bombay and took a job in Morvi in western India. He produced 25 Art Deco murals and paintings on canvas for the residence of Maharaja Lakhdhiriji Waghji.

These big projects made Norblin famous and won him further orders. His fame spread in the wake of his designs of palace furniture and wall paintings. The Pole was admired for his paintings, which were close to Indian tradition. In 1944, Norblin had a solo exhibition in Mumbai.

In 1946, the Norblins went to San Francisco, leaving India because of its demanding climate. In the U.S., Norblin painted portraits of many prominent Americans, including Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as well as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He also worked for a decorating company. After losing his eyesight, the artist committed suicide in 1952. His wife died six years later. Both are buried at a cemetery in San Francisco.

The exhibitions in Delhi and Mumbai will feature Norblin’s works from three continents. They will also showcase the expertise of Polish art conservators who have renovated some of Norblin’s Indian masterpieces. The exhibition includes an award-winning 2006 documentary film by Robert Ćwikliński, Stefan Norblin, and an English-Polish catalogue about Norblin, published in Poland and edited by art curator Anna Szl±zak.

Władysław Serwatowski
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