Antoni Sulek

“Antos” (pronounced Antosch), as he was known to his family and friends, was the son of Polish emigre parents  Julia and Piotr Sulek, who, after extraordinary war-time vicissitudes, met at the resettlement camp at Hartford Bridge in 1949, married, and settled in Morpeth . Piotr’s war service with the Polish Division of the Eighth Army and the saga of Julia’s eight-year journey as a refugee from Poland to England via Siberia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Africa are dramatic stories in their own right – but what is truly astonishing is how their second child, in whose recent heredity there was little to predispose to such creativity and who received little formal training, developed into an accomplished artist whose work shows remarkable colour-sense and compositional skill and, in both drawing and painting, the deftest line.”Antos” painted as one possessed – almost as if he knew he was not to have enough time to do what he wanted to do., for he died, tragically, at the age of thirty-seven in 1988.  His work received little public exposure in his lifetime, except at the Bondgate  Gallery in Alnwick, whose proprietor, George McLean, spotted his talent and did much to encourage and help the young artist. Antos himself was too busy drawing and painting to concern himself with the practical problems of exhibiting and selling, as he feverishly covered every surface he could lay his hands on – paper, hardboard, card, plywood, panels, wallpaper, record sleeves – with arresting images, often disturbing ones, too, for Antos was enthralled by religion, romantic music, war, military oppression, Poland’s troubled history, and his racing imagination conjured up more devils than angels. He was able to visit Poland several times in the years before the collapse of Communism, and some of his most haunting images show himself observing and enduring the travails of his ancestral homeland with all the passion of the Polish temperament.Passion is indeed the keynote of his work. This is no calm contemplative, no careful academic artist. His is a blazing, bleeding, suffering voyage of anguish undertaken under a remorseless compulsion. It demands attention in the most uncompromising way – and we must respond to its uncomfortably brilliant realisationA biography of Antoni : “Poles Apart”, by Ingrid Taylor, ISBN 9 781849 630146, can be ordered from Waterstones £19.99