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Mariusz Kaldowski Vivaldi Four Seasons project

The Four Seasons, Four Stages of Life frieze, (1.5m x 22m), 2000
painting stage
painting stage with my son Igor
Igor in front of Spring section
nearly finished
before Polish Gala in Torun
some brave members of the audience on stage
'quality control'
awaiting the orchestra
audience filling up
audience filling up 2
the concert
Agnieszka Duczmal and Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio 'Amadeus'
aplause
speaches
flowers
more speaches
kaldowski four seasons
you can still 'see' the music...

When my paintings go off into the world, the music stays in the studio.”                                                                                                                                  Mariusz Kaldowski

The ‘Four Seasons.  Four Stages of Life’ is a 22-metre frieze which Mariusz Kaldowski painted in London in 2000. It represents a distinctive synopsis of life along with creative experiences of the artist who decided to execute  a painting depicting a secret history of a human life.  The painting took a year to complete.   The artist spent four seasons listening to Vivaldi and transferring his thoughts on life onto canvas.  Whilst telling a story of man’s journey through life, from birth to death, by using colours and listening to music, Mariusz Kaldowski found in the work of the Venetian composer not only illustrations to ever changing nature, but also the meaning of life itself.  Hence it is so vital for the painter that his work is viewed while listening to a live performance of the piece of music it depicts.  The power of emotions conveyed onto the canvas is enriched by the feelings written into the musical notes of Vivaldi’s concertos, and multiplied by the passions of the performing musicians.  A show becomes a spectacle.  The encounter with the painting is like watching a movie, a drama.  There is a sphere of colours, a scope of emotions, and a sound of music - the painting comes to life. 
The ‘Four Seasons.  Four Stages of Life’ was displayed for the first time in 2001 in Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery in Wales. Thereafter it was on show in London in 2003 and in Preston in 2004.  
Seven years after its British debut, the artwork was finally exhibited in Poland. In March 2007 at Torun’s Artus Court, a classical concert was performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio, conducted by Agnieszka Duczmal with a solo violin of Jaroslaw Zolnierczyk and ‘accompanied’ by the ‘Four Seasons. Four Stages of Life’ frieze.  A critic from ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ called this extraordinary artistic event ‘a feast for the eye and the ear’.   In the autumn of the same year this art-music project was presented during Krakow’s 750th Anniversary celebrations. 
In 2008, in Poznan, a Vivaldi and Piazzolla concert, with Mariusz Kaldowski’s painting, honoured the 40th anniversary of the Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio ‘Amadeus’ and the artistic accomplishments of its director, Agnieszka Duczmal.  The concert was recorded, and has been transmitted many times since, by the Polish National TV.  The same concert was played again at Warsaw’s Lutoslawski’s Studios in 2008 during the Golden Microphone Awards, of which Duczmal was one of the recipients.  
This art-music project was also shown during the events such as the International Climate Conference in Poznan, and thereafter in Swinoujscie, Gdansk, Rzeszow, Lodz, Kielce and again in Warsaw.  Every performance was met by an enthusiastic audience and extraordinarily positive critique.  One of the reasons for this, no doubt, was meeting the expectations of a modern spectator who searches for new artistic encounters. 
An intriguing story of man, told with colour and sound, gives Vivaldi’s masterpiece a new dimension.  We observe man’s journey from birth to death, guided by the music which illustrates not only the passing of seasons but also the passing of our lives. 
Masterful performance of Vivaldi’s concertos by the Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio ‘Amadeus’, conducted by Agnieszka Duczmal, breaks with any prejudice of a mere mood carrier.  Jaroslaw Zolnierczyk, on a solo violin, subtly but with bravado, as blissfully as dramatically, paints a portrait of a man whom ‘tutti’ of the orchestra blends into nature. It is therefore possible to… hear the painting and see the music. By listening to the recording whilst looking through the album one can be a part of this spectacle. Gabriela Ulanowska

The painting combines the changing of nature with naturally flowing stages of a human life. Everything is blending, interchanging, permeating with the music, from its building of suspense through culminations, to its descent and moments of just a simple joy.  All of this forms a cohesive spectacle with Vivaldi in its core.”  Agnieszka Duczmal  

This composition, inspired by Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, is the outcome of many years of thinking by Mariusz about the experiences of his life to date and its likely development in the future.
The frieze is 22 metres in length around the West End of the Long Gallery and 1.5 metres in height. The intention is that visitors to the Gallery should feel that they are partially cocooned within the frieze in Mariusz's contemplative cycle of life. Formed from a background of seasonal landscapes and gardens, all the conceivable colours of the spectrum in acrylic paints are exploited to emphasise the passage of the seasons and life's journey from birth to death. Phases in the life of man, from foetus formed from nature in the womb, through childhood and adolescence to the sexual maturity of the body and the development of the spirit. Then almost at the last age confronting its final obstacles, the imminence of death and the transition through the final light to a mere insubstantial outline.
In the frieze the rhythms of life are given substance by the gestures and attitudes of the figures, facing out, facing in; foetally curved in reflection; prancing, dancing, gambolling; floating in death-like trance, seated in contemplative silence; blurred in shape and form beyond reality. And behind the figures, in equally differentiated attitudes, fragments of faces, intimations of eyes, commenting silently on man's progress through life.
In brief the canvas may be roughly divided into five sections, each merging into the next, in theme, texture and colour the cold colours of winter merging into the vital and rich tones of spring and autumn, and the wintry landscape reemerging to prefigure the stillness of death; finally the transparent shades of pale primrose and azure symbolising the incorporeal-corporeal after life.
In the first phase of winter the cold dark colours of blue and indigo are contrasted with the pink of the curled foetus and the inexpressive flesh-coloured figure of the detached child, facing away from the viewer into a bleak uninviting end-of-winter landscape. The child's back is turned away from the critical world of the viewer; his pose is a safe pose, lacking self-confidence, unconfrontational. The eyes suspended in the landscape of an insubstantial tree are expressionless, without direction or goal or clarity, suggesting the hesitation of the young facing an uncertain future.
The second phase of childhood reveals development both in the landscape and in the attitude of the figures. Gradually the cooler blues and indigos of winter become green infused with dark yellows, intimating spring. At the same time the figures of children move into the irrepressible play mode, leaping and striving towards unidentified goals. The eyes staring out from the canvas are more focused than before until finally the child assumes the stature of the erect young adult. The spring of life advances apace, yet still the gaze is deflected from immediate contact with the outer world of the viewer, the uncertainties and confusions of adolescence still prevail, the human face is not yet fully developed.
Parental control is rejected. Now the figures in the greener landscape gyrate and gambol in the mutual joys of friendship and self-discovery, the richness of late spring colour, yellows, greens and apricots, moves into summer hues, a fruit tree entangles the scene, the eyes in the landscape assume a deep intensity looking down on the lovers: sexual maturity has arrived in the inevitable embrace of man and woman.

With sexual maturity comes self-assurance and certainty; the man's ego becomes fully developed, there is hope of a brighter, more expansive future. The figure leaping into the landscape is the culmination of the physical life, the high point of man's identification with the natural world.

From this point onwards in the frieze, the natural landscape and gardens come to an end as a setting for the journey through the seasons of life. Instead water and sky predominate, intimating the beginning of the autumn and winter of life. At the beginning of this phase the figure squatting on the ground, head bowed, arms clasping knees, reminds one of the attitude of the seated figure in Walther von der Vogelweide's beautiful mediaeval poem "Ich saz auf eime Steine".

Here the self- absorbed embryo, a faint reminiscence of the foetus at the beginning of the frieze, pauses to reflect for the first time on the spiritual aspects of life. And now the human figure, fully erect, looks out for the first time at the viewer, the face fully formed in all the confidence of the prime of life.

In the next phase, where the fiery tints of autumn appear for the last time through a dieing tree, the seated figure, in an inanimate landscape, almost floating, begins to reveal in his face and body the physical degeneration that comes with the passing of the years, the slowing down in preparation for the hibernation of winter and the long sleep of old age.

Yet there are still obstacles to surmount, a barren, cold, unfruitful mountainous region, at the close of life. It is however, the mind, and not the body, which will succeed in this desperate struggle with the elemental. The body loses its poise and balance towards the end of life, but the mind triumphs, infusing the body with new strength.

At this supreme moment of triumph the body stands arms akimbo, legs firmly planted on the high place, in the fullest maturity, receptive to external influences, to God, to death, to the unknown.
The struggles of life are over, no more prancing, and gambolling with life: the sublime tournament is over. As the end approaches the recognisable human figure is replaced by a huge supine human face, looking for inspiration and support into the sky; the earth vanishes, and all earthly colour recedes from the frieze.

A floating insubstantial figure, delicately delineated, intimating oriental mysticism, confirms the end of the physical life. Incandescent light invites a shadowy figure across the threshold between the real and the unreal, but no indication is given whether the figure is looking inwards into the light or backwards out of the light. Man has passed through life's stages, through the seasons of existence, but without finality. David Jeffreys

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