Comtemporary Art Market: 'Book of Dead' injects new life into abstracts

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ANTONI MALINOWSKI, a young abstract painter born and bred in Poland, is representing Britain in an exhibition of European Community painting in Korea.

In addition, his new paintings, inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, are currently showing at the old established London gallery Gimpel Fils (30 Davies Street, W1) run by a dynasty of French dealers.

If Malinowski's credentials as a 'British' artist are shaky - he arrived here in 1980 at the age of 25 and spent a year at the Chelsea College of Art - he is well worth adopting. He does a rather un-British thing by painting thoughtful abstractions of spiritual inspiration.

His canvases contain three elements: a texture which is carefully painted to look like flowing liquid, with streams merging and separating, a symbol of the flow of time; lines, faltering and meandering, which suggest the discreet breaks in time between, say, life and death; and small flat planes of varying shape, sharply distinct from the overall textured flow.

Most of his titles are similar. Bardo-yellow, for instance, measures 73in by 22in and costs pounds 3,500, while Bardo-Mars violet measures 73in by 40in and costs pounds 4,350; the colour of the textured area varies richly from canvas to canvas.

In case his viewers have not read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, he provides a crib: 'Bardo means gap; it is not only the interval of suspension after we die but also in the living situation; death happens in the living situation as well. The bardo experience is part of our basic psychological make-up . . . birth and death apply to everybody constantly, at this very moment.'

Abstraction plays a different role at the Galerie Besson (15 Royal Arcade, Bond Street, W1), where an Italian ceramicist, Pompeo Pianezzola, is showing thin textured sheets of fired clay. He uses different coloured clay, sandy variations in texture and glaze, and half- obliterated lettering in an unrecognisable language to suggest the battered remains of ancient civilisations.

This is closer to romanticism. Most of his rectangles measure roughly 2ft by 1ft - just occasionally they come rolled up - and cost between pounds 475 and pounds 2,850.

At the Waddington Galleries (12 Cork Street, W1), Sean Scully has translated explorations of the resonance of associated bands of colour into book form.

He has made eight etchings of stripes in varying colours, some vertical, some horizontal, to illustrate Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Handsomely bound, the book has been printed in an edition of 300 by the Limited Editions Club of New York and sells at dollars 3,000 (pounds 1,900) a time.