Wednesday, July 24, 2024

“Ten Thousand Mala Buddha Temple,” a plein air painting by Jacek von Henneberg, is part of a von Henneberg retrospective running from Thursday through Nov. 30 at the Fay Chandler Gallery on Sacramento Street.

The more you know about Jacek von Henneberg, the humble artist and architect down Walden Street, the more amazing he gets.

He’s been around the world, toting canvas and palette to paint in India, Nepal and Europe, for starters. And there’s 70 years worth of the work, selections from which come on display Thursday in the Fay Chandler Gallery, 20 Sacramento St., in the Agassiz neighborhood.

A 70-year body of work is impressive enough — but even more so is the story of how he first used his artistic talents: as a prisoner of war forced to march with retreating Nazi forces.

Born in Poland in 1926, von Henneberg joined the Polish Underground Home Army in 1942 to fight the Nazis and in 1944 took part in an uprising. Captured, he survived with his skills — his powerful artistic talents and clever negotiating skills in numerous languages — and eventually escaped. After the war he studied architecture in Poland, Rome and London. Winning a Wheelwright Fellowship in 1949 allowed him to move to the United States and study at Harvard University under Walter Gropius.

The gallery’s “Travels & Memories: Seventy Years of Paintings & Drawings,” a selection of paintings and drawings curated by Diane Charyk Norris, goes beyond plein air architectural paintings to introduce a broader personal memoir through sketchbooks, theatrical designs and powerful surrealist creatures from a recurring theme called “After the Man,” said Catherine Kernan, program director at Maud Morgan Arts, the home of the gallery.

“Through his sketchbooks and paintings, the gallery is pleased to unfold a memorable story of a man who survived extraordinary circumstances and continues to create with a provocative yet humorous and engaging spirit,” Kernan said.

“Travels & Memories: Seventy Years of Paintings & Drawings” starts with a 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. opening reception Thursday and ends Nov. 30. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, click here.