In 1922, Henryk Berlewi moved to Berlin and developed his own theory of abstract art — mechanofacture, which rejected in painting the illusion of space in order to emphasize the two-dimensionality of canvas. He replaced the texture of painting’s composition with visual equivalents: rhythmization of lines and planes, and a schematic combination of simple geometric shapes. He had transformed the structure of materials into a system of halftones consisting of circles, dots, straight and wavy lines and square planes. He dramatically reduced the colors to black, white and red. As a result, a self-contained texture, independent of materials and fully reflecting the nature of painting was created. In his manifesto, he wrote that the mechanization of the means of expression does not mean automation of the creative process. The new language of geometric forms was to harmonize with the accelerated rhythm of changing present day, to give expression to the unification of art and the life of society postulated by constructivists.
In 1924, Berlewi announced his artistic theory in the brochure „Mechano-Faktura” and in the pages of the Berlin magazine „Der Sturm”, and the exhibition of the artist’s works which took place in Der Sturm gallery became the embodiment of his theoretical considerations. In Warsaw, Berlewi founded Biuro Reklama-Mechano [Mechano Advertising Bureau], through which he promoted the principle of functional printing (eg, ad design of chocolate Plutos, 1925). Together with architect Szymon Syrkus he executed projects of advertising kiosks; he also took up stage design. Berlewi represented the most radical current of Polish avant-garde of the twenties. He was a member of the „Blok” Group of Cubists, Constructivists and Suprematists, active in 1924–1926.
Shortly afterwards, in 1928, he settled in Paris, devoting himself to portraiture; he quit the avant-garde aesthetics. He also painted realistic nudes, with clear outlines and value modeling of models’s complexions. He created abstract backgrounds with free strokes of brush, applying patches of pure colors. Static pose of the figures referred to the traditional, classical conventions of presenting nudes.
To the principles of mechanofacture Berlewi returned in 1957 and re-entered the world of abstract art. The artist is considered to be the precursor of Op-art. The verticals and horizontals of linear halftones, circle and their sectors, rectangles and squares form perfectly balanced compositions in his late paintings.