Tag Archives: Artists

Ivan Marchuk

Who likes Ivan Marchuk’s paintings? After all – the question wants more than a personal aesthetic statement. Marchuk is incredibly East-y if you know what it may mean. Spiritual, complex and with some philosophical ambitions. Thus, saying yes to his vision seems like supporting a specific world-view.

Marchuk’s painstakingly detailed works, at once lyrical and disturbing look like clinical operations on the open heart. The open heart of living things – the intricate microcosm of structured chaos, stylized forms emerging and dissolving back into itself.

Some more info on painter’s life and work here.


“For the world has changed…” (Whilt 14),

Well, it’s been rather an emotional day… wasn’t it?

You don’t have to be a supporter of the 44th President of the US to feel the profoundness of the moment. Personally, I can hardly remember from an experience this very intense joy of witnessing the ‘history in making’; my generation came to ‘power’ of its awareness after the first man has landed on the Moon, after the Cold War has finished and after the Communist monster  has been crushed. Now, something close to magic is going on in the air, some sort of an awaken passion and an inspiration instead of the sleepy  indifference and ‘everything goes’ philosophies; I met students of law, art, philosophy and I spoke to middle-aged taxi-drivers; their eyes sparkled when Barrack Obama’s name was mentioned.

Basically, he is an artist – the new man in charge – the pure-blooded, first-rank artist, whose art is that of a born and charismatic leader – he uses words, his entire persona the way Turner was using watercolours painting his stormy seascapes or Leonardo his oils rendering all those sublime figures hovering somewhere between human and angelic states…He crafts simple messages-concepts into some compelling, wings-giving visions, which both – transcend their time and space,  yet – draw their power from a deep respect and a concern for the ‘real’ and the ‘present’.

He is also a very classical type – I would say the Old Master, being only at the dawn of his challenging way. Just look at the Inauguration Ceremony – musicians and poets delivering the messages of beauty and integrity (all great leaders had used art to ennoble their position and visions), priests preaching (as – traditionally – the spiritual power meets and supports the political might)… And him – surrounded by all those brilliant outfits, velvet curtains and ancient symbols (Lincoln’s Bible and inspiration) – displaying impeccable manners and the air of authority, which only his inborn and greatly cultivated aristocracy of the spirit could have made to look so natural…

Everything about him is so stylish that he is already a myth – just see his icon-portrait done for the campaign’s sake. This Warhol-esque piece of the contemporary design (difficult to say ‘art’) is already a ‘pop-celebrity’ on its own – I guess Baudrillard has his sweet satisfaction in the other life seeing his magic of ‘simulacra’ realised. I’ve seen recently an exhibition -like event with this poster on the view – the modern Mona Lisa with the crowds swelling around it in order to get closer and have a shot taken… Crazy ? – rather not…

For the world has changed and we must change with it (Inauguration Speech) – change, hope, responsibility, virtue, freedom, courage, curiosity, honesty – time to assess the past rigidly and leave it, time for a change – because the world is not the same any more. Let’s treasure these moments, no matter what will come sooner or later. They’re quite rare and they may define years and epochs to come… Also, for an art-world, also for you as an artist if you’ll choose to. We live in the great times, despite all the appearances – let’s teach ourselves to inspire others, to re-inspire ourselves…


Polish Theatre gets the clapping!

I just couldn’t miss this great opportunity to dive in the memories of my family town – Krakow (‘Cracow’ as it is misspelled sometimes).

The annual,  intensely energetic festival of theatrical performances – the “Divine Comedy” hosted by Krakow’s stages has made the arts news in the Irish leading newspaper. In the recent edition of the “Irish Times” Peter Crawley reports from Poland in all the acclaiming terms, tinting the relation with a bit of jealously (‘why something similar cannot be done here, in Ireland?’ – one can read between the verses).

To emulate the success of the cultural event is equally difficult like – I guess, to gamble if a transplant will be accepted by the ‘mother’-body or not. In Krakow, as far as I can remember, there were at least three major national theaters (independent companies) functioning all year long and few minor ones – all employing the set of full-time and excellently prepared professionals – actors, directors, stage design artists and so on. To be a respected theatre personality in Poland has meant to be more than the talented painter, even some of the writers didn’t get the same devotion; some of the poets only (mainly Nobelists and other great-s) would equal or surpass the actors and directors on the Pantheon of the ‘moral’ and ‘existential’ guides. The most famous academies for the future ‘theatre people’ have got the magic aura around them; fine art centers only rarely could have matched them in the sky-high level of the artistry in their principles and the artworks produced.

Above that, Poland’s social, political and cultural life has been always evolving around the drama-comedy sweet-sour swing – it’s been full of a struggle, bloodshed, brain-washing, oddities and bizarre elements, hate and vanity – a bit like in Ireland, yet – in Poland there is ten times more hands to meet the challenge of becoming a professional playwright or a performer. Adding to it the long tradition and the comparatively recent excitement with the ‘showing Europe who we are’ (Poland joined the EU in 2005) – and you got a high-quality international festival, prepared and ‘powered’ mostly by the young generation and – what’s important – getting the claps!

Well done Krakow. Looking forward to hear more good news.

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Read the original article here.


Alice, L. Carroll and their land…

I’ve promised her a little post some time ago… Then I excused myself due to the flood of other ‘important’ things to do… Yet, she has been waiting patiently, the way kids do when their intelligence and understanding of human issues surpasses our own…

Alice and her Wonderland – not that long time ago I would adopt that name and – the entire worldview and life-view having a temptation to tease someone (including myself), who tended to cultivate rather his/her own world than to contribute  to the physical, objective reality in a ‘typically’ intense, engaged way.

Yet – Alice is an entity on her own — a timeless authority on the essence of childhood, dreams and imagination… and not a sort of a Barbie- toy our grandmothers would amuse themselves with. It’s enough to reach for Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece again and read it with a fresh mind, with enthusiasm and with a playful manner, as it was meant to be read. It is a compelling lecture and a fascinating adventure – all ages/stages in life allowed! What I find especially impressive and adorable is the writer’s ability to create the entire, nonsense-based world which is perfectly functioning – no character, event, even a sentence/expression is out of place. That powerful, seamless and convincing, if not enchanting integrity of a created/invented ‘reality’ is always a trademark of a great artwork, either literary or in visual/audio arts. It’s there to be believed in because it makes sense – it ‘sounds’, ‘looks’, have a ‘feeling’ of being sensible/born to exist – even if this ‘sense’ is as no-sense you know living day to day, here and now.

I like also the potential of very different, possible interpretations – the whole hermeneutic schools of reading the Alice compete and contradict each other with passion and inventiveness, which one might have thought to be impossible, when most of the contemporary more/less successful fiction was considered. Similarly to the Nutcracker‘s story, there are basically two versions circulating in the audience’s memory – the sugar-coated for 7 years old, which entertainment(money)makers have managed to exploit to a mind-numbing degree, and the original one – complex, slightly dark and sinister with multiple and always ambiguous layers of meaning. And ambiguity is a key-word here, especially when one is aware of the modern witch-haunt which sees Carroll – predominantly and without a trial – as a monster writing stories for little girls out of the ‘friendship’ and the general ‘affection’. It’s been always unreasonable and cowardly for me – to send a great artist/writer/thinker on a stake, post mortem and with a little regret – due to his/her ‘crimes’ against humanity committed few decades or hundreds years ago, accordingly to our contemporary – advanced, illuminated and never mistaken grasp of things…

When I look at Carroll’s beautiful photographs of children (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, as he was born, was an accomplished photographer as well as being a scientist – mathematician and logician) I see the great effort and tenderness to capture the solemnity and loneliness of the little individuals, facing the challenge of growing up in a reality programmed by adults and for adults. Yes, these children are ‘individuals’ – independent, intelligent and troubled,  little masters of their own world – just like Alice is… Seen as that, they stay in a radical opposition to the modern, popular portrayal of the youngest generation –

‘cute’-doll-like, carefree and subjected to a constant supervision and guidance.

Here are my favourite quotes from Alice in Wonderland:

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?

An author doesn’t necessarily understand the meaning of his own story better than anyone else.

Photos above in an order of appearance:

Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell,1858 (prototype of Alice)

Lewis Carroll, Fair Rosamond, 1863

Lewis Carroll, Mary White, 1864


Cohen, Waits, Cave, Schubert and others… Whilt (3)

I’ve noticed that unique, intense and rather strange connection I feel between the music, I used to listen frequently in different periods of my life with the very particular space and time it happened to be played in.

So, then goes Franz Schubert and his “Death and the Maiden” (“Der Tog und das Madchen) from 1824 – the mastery String Quartet in D minor, with its so characteristic, brooding melancholy, lyrically sweet, almost cheerful in moments and powerfully sorrowful at the same time – this musical piece will forever remind me about my first months spent in Ireland. When the first notes come from a record/radio the images come as well in a flow – so vivid and real that I can even feel the smell of the places, hear the voices of those, whom I met and I can see myself sitting on a navy sofa in a place, one wouldn’t count into pleasant ones, listening to this second-hand record I found in a charity shop.

Translating Leon Cohen’s songs I would teach myself English (the same is true with reading Agata Christie’s criminal stories), till now I know many of them by heart and I feel the aura of a little Irish town, West Cork where I spent few years each time “Sisters of Mercy” or “The Famous Blue Raincoat” is being played.

In the same spirit I always think about a little island I used to live on for a year, with its swampy, neglected terrain and its extremities (light there used to be either very bright or very gloomy due to the surrounding waters) when I hear Nick Cave’s bold gothicism. The dark passions and an intense love for life/for another human being (usually beyond the reach) – these always come through the same way I felt them at that time, listening to the songs, the stormy winds howling all nights and rains pouring during those long winter months.

Finally for the repertoire of today, and for my little ‘show off’ – Tom Waits and only him is being played when I take a ride in my 1971 classical Jaguar XJ6 – no other music seems right for this car – Waits’ ‘rotten’, gutsy voice bringing to life his gangsters, crooks and all sorts of freaks imaginable and the moving artwork of English design – they feel like they’ve been made for each other. Whatever will happen to the Jag and whatever will happen to me – I can be pretty sure that, thanks to that magical bond between sounds/words and images cooked in one meal by emotion and preserved by memory (M. Proust would put it better, I guess) in 10, 20 or 40 years time – hearing (…) How do your pistol and your Bible and your Sleeping pills go? Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes? Tell me who are you, who are you this time? (…) I will still distinctly remember that car, places I visit, and the people I met at that particular time in my life.

Well, this is what I have learned today (whilt) – art (here in a form of music) is a mighty ‘shaper’ of the human’s soul, it soaks it like an invisible, eternal rain of images, sensory stimulants and emotions – after some time one is unable to remove or even modify the impact – it stays there, ready only to accept yet another stream. The power of the human memory, the power of what has happened to us… Never to be demeaned or overpriced, it has its own rhythm, art proves to be one of the very capable triggers – equally, if not more intoxinating and unavoidable…


Studying Art (10)- The Crisis

Crisis (Oxford Dictionary 2008):

a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger : the current economic crisis | a family in crisis
• a time when a difficult or important decision must be made : [as adj. ] a crisis point of history.
• the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
• the point in a play or story when a crucial conflict takes place, determining the outcome of the plot.

Thesaurus:

critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, Rubicon, doomsday

Well – you have it all considering the definition alone – you are in a trouble, yet – it’s a fertile ground, even though it may look like a disaster-in-happening. But – in a crisis, in this alter ego of any serious artist – there is always something redeeming… You have your Rubicon to cross – the dice to be thrown, a pathway to be chosen, a truth to be faced/accepted/rejected… New life – out of chaos is to be conceived… It’s a powerful element, which forms/displays the true character of humans; the only time when even ancient, sanctified delusions of ours can be annihilated… Though it may be confusing and/or painful like hell, you’re much better off accepting your struggle the way your child accepts the everyday piece of bread from you – something as natural as the life itself. But don’t be fooled by this apparent heroism of mine… If I had to point out the mistakes I’ve made during the last few months… well, here it goes:  self-indulgence to a point of a narcissism, self-avoidance, lack of a self-imposed, healthy discipline, letting the personal to overwhelm and to command the work, excessive expression, pretense and so on, and so on…

What else? Maybe only this, that it seems to be the tabu-word in today’s career/success-orientated world… the ‘crisis’ – say it out loud in our Western, Anglo-Saxon ‘winners’ ‘club’ –  and you’ll meet with a disapprobation, a distrust, at best – with a pity. It’s OK to weep publicly over the drama of a world-wide recession, yet – to admit – my private recession is not less acute – that would be reckless – just like to plant explosives on your own threshold… O c’mon people – fellow artists – the aristocrats of the spirit… being noble doesn’t necessary mean being flawless…But to say – out loud and out of honesty – ‘I’m just a pretentious, little bastard/ I lost my way/ I have nothing to say/I’m doing this cos I still believe in this exotic, dying flower – the integrity of an artist…’ and so on – that sounds right in the right, critical time, doesn’t it? There is something in the air nowadays that silence the great, the exceptional, the above-average; a man is more afraid of his lightness than his shadows… He is afraid of his own innate nobility, greatness, genius… it looks like the democratic system in its full swing discourages the truthful expression of an individuality the way the communists regimes were designed to do.

Well, it becomes incoherent a bit – I’ll better finish this strange post, the post of a crisis… But – you there – don’t you be afraid to think the nonsense… Was it Wittgenstein who wrote, that if we were too scared to proclaim nonsense, nothing smart would had ever been said?…


“That Youth of Ours”…

pLegendary Polish cabaret “Piwnica Pod Baranami” (“The Cellar under Rams”) has his stage underground indeed – just under ‘the rams’ – under the very dignified part of Krakow’s main square. It used to be a truly magic place, in a cellar, lit by candles with an ‘extravagant’, improvised scene (that meant all sort of ‘found’ weird artifacts being put together without any rule, yet – it was brilliant). It happened that the most talented Polish poets, composers, signers had their “Piwnica” period – it was like a forge of genius – very often without any plan, scenario a group of artists would improvise in front of any public, often asking for a glass of vine in return… Beautiful women, charming gentlemen, gallons of wine, signing about freedom, passion, meaning of live… And all that ‘dissipation’ right in the middle of Communists’ concrete world – that was an immaculate miracle… “Piwnica”‘s creator and the ‘main magician’ – Piotr Skrzynecki (above) belonged (he died in 1997) to the one of the most unusual people one can come across. Quiet yet charismatic persona without a home and family, a poet and artist himself, a perfect dreamer and ‘father’ to all those performing on his request. His motto: If you can make people laugh that they will forget being sad and that the world is an alien place – you will be redeemed just because of that.

Here artists of “Piwnica” with Halina Wyrodek as a soloist sign one of the cabaret’s unofficial hymns. Hymn of being always young… Lyrics adapted from Tadeusz Sliwiak poem of the same title. Music by Z. Konieczny. Great video by a youtube user: jurek46pink – Thank you.

This song is redeeming truly… It makes me think of people like Skrzynecki that angels exist, sadly – they  live too short…

That Youth of Ours

She can be found among pebbles,
In a brook rapid light,
She whisks along trees
And branches as squirrels,

She is a spark in a stone,
She is milk in a nut,
She is curious about the world
Like a copper coin in a money bag…

That youth of ours,
Of bones and blood,
That youth of ours,
Mocking at time,
That is always on a move…
She that happens for the first,
And then the second time…

That youth of ours,
That joyful time,
That pair of wings,
Folded inside us…

She is a flower in hair,
The first vinegar in apples,
And the bitter beer – head,
In a bustling inn of the world,

She is an unfulfilled rebellion,
That dies on a heart-attack,
She gives you only that,
What she takes away from others…

That youth of ours,
Of bones and blood…


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