Vincent Burek - painter and graphic artist
Vincent Burek (1974)
Vincent Burek was one of the last professional painters and graphic designers who lived in the Schwalm region in the German State of Hesse.
The Schwalm region is well known for its tradition of painter colonies, mainly in the villages of Willingshausen and Röllshausen, where painters settled from the early 19th century.
Vincent was founder of the Arts Cabinet in the Schwalm Museum in Ziegenhain where he also had his own studio.
He would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2020.
His works cover graphic art, illustrations, industrial design, sculptures, glasswork, wall paintings, mosaics, drawings, oil and watercolour paintings as well as linocuts.
Vincent was born on July 18th, 1920 in the back then German town of Ruda in Upper Silesia (nowadays Polish). He was the first child of Marzian and Maria Burek. He had a younger sister called Irene. His father was an ornamental blacksmith who worked for the Borsig Works in Zabrze (then Hindenburg), where the family lived in a worker's housing estate.
After his school days he joined the Academy for Master Craftspeople in Wroclaw (then Breslau) where he studied general arts, letterpress (printing) and commercial art. When he was 18 years old he received the scholarship of the year, which made it possible for him to go on a study journey to the Balkans. With a lot of landscape and portrait paintings he returned to Germany at the start of the Second World War in 1939.
He was then called up to fight at the Eastern front, came to Russia and was taken prisoner of war in Stalingrad (now Volgograd). He spent 15 months in a prison camp at the Ural. Using watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings he recorded his impressions of war and captivity.
At the end of 1945 he was released and returned to Germany. He went to Berlin where he worked as an illustrator for the fortnightly journal "Horizont" (Horizon). In 1946 he married Dorle. The young couple found a new home in the town of Ziegenhain in the State of Hesse, which formed part of the American (-occupied) zone. They had two children.
As the conditions made life difficult in those days (especially for an artist), Vincent had to reorientate professionally to earn a living and focussed on commercial arts whilst working as an instructor and lifeguard in a public swimming pool. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Vincent's paintings and drawings were still heavily influenced by his impressions of war, captivity and the loss of home. These were often dark charcoal drawings but soon more colour and light could be found in his watercolour and oil paintings.
From 1948 onwards he participated in art exhibitions. Burek formed friendships with some other painters; together with Henner Knauf, Günther Heinemann and Paul Halbhuber he founded the "neue gruppe schwalm". With new artistic techniques and another artistic signature, they tried to develop the traditional art of the region.
The region is still well known for its traditional costumes. Vincent picked up traditional motives of rural life in the Schwalm region in particular and used them in his linocuts. An abstract style with clear lines and intense contrasts are typical for his artistic works.
Vincent's wall paintings and mosaic works can still be found on public buildings. Unfortunately, some have been lost due to renovation or conversion.
In 1974 he initiated the founding of the "Zwalmbruecke", a relationship of Belgian and German artists from the twinning towns of Schwalmstadt and Munkzwalm and their surrounding regions.
Vincent Burek died on December 21st, 1975 in his hometown in Ziegenhain.