Wiesław Haładaj »
The way to self-discovery
Wiesław Haładaj’s artwork is in a way an attempt to create
his own philosophy of man. Being a result of a personal
search, it lets us discover the truth about ourselves,
it develops awareness of who we really are and what
the goal of our lives is. Although the form in which the
reflection is expressed is very individual and it sometimes
evokes conventional associations, this creative attitude
relates to the sphere of ideas and projections which are
most general, which define man’s place in the world and
the sense of his existence.
The search is based on the return to the fundamental
experience, the establishment of true relationships
between man and the world, other than those that are
one of the basic assumptions of the tradition of Western
civilization. In Wiesław Haładaj’s considerations man
is a part of the Universe which he should be able to
coexist with, and whose various elements are scattered
in each of us. This phenomenon is like the tissue that
consolidates our lives. It covers everything: physical and
spiritual beings, what is organic and inorganic, objects
and people, actions and their consequences, the past,
the present and the future. The apparent contradictions
combine in the harmonious whole.
The artist refers to the cosmic consciousness which
focuses on seeking ways to recover the lost harmony
of man with the Universe. Then man appears to be in
some way connected with it; an attempt to find a visual
expression of this phenomenon takes here the form of
almost literally biological bonds, organic links with the
spirit and the matter of the Universe.
Created visions are rooted in the artist’s imagination
and sensitivity. Various imagery components of Wiesław
Haładaj’s works, the relations in which they stay to one
another, indicate a variety of manifestations of existence
and their nature. They most often overlap each other,
merge, obscure others, they build the whole of other
smaller, modular components. Frequently multiplied and
magnified, they hide behind a thicket of tangled, quasibiological
forms, distinguished by a kind of spectacular
The course of their fibres is most often defined by oblique
routes, but in many recent works, both those that contain
heavily exposed figural motifs, as well as those which
are close to abstract compositions - the line sometimes
becomes more decorative, liberated. The line resembles
the Art Nouveau style: flexible, smooth and undulating.
Not only is it more decorative, but also more organic by
its physical nature, the increased biological vitality.
The artist creates a situation in which our vision - like
a speculum - penetrates the dense structure of the
matter and, layer by layer, it moves forward. It makes
an attempt to get to the bottom, with no guarantee to
reach the heart of the matter. The figurative elements
sometimes painstakingly push their way to us through
these layers, they go out of them like from a shadow,
from their hideouts of eternal anxiety. Some of them
look as if they themselves were composed of fibres.
Sometimes it is very hard to find a hidden form. It seems
that the artist plays a sort of game with us. Important
motifs are often hidden as images in stereograms,
optical puzzles. Some compositions reveal their secrets
only after a very careful and repeated review of the
Perceived from the traditional perspective they also
reveal another, perhaps more traditional, metaphorical
sense. They talk about the intricacies of human nature,
about the complicated structure of man’s psyche. It is
difficult to grasp its picture as a whole, especially since
it functions - like the faces from the artist’s works - in
the web of complications concerning not only its own
inner nature, but also the hostile external relations and
Sometimes two, or more images of faces account
for one, accentuating not only the complexity and
ambiguity of the whole existence, but also, to a smaller
extent, the complicacy of the phenomenon of humanity.
Thus, do we see true faces? Perhaps it is just their
appearance or masks covering them? They remind us
about passing, the passage of time, as well as about
volatility and exchange of the forms of existence; they
provoke eschatological reflections.
Wiesław Haładaj’s creative explorations are accompanied
by the feeling of the everlasting, deeply experienced
paradox which the mystery of the sense of existence of
transient individual lives is in the context of eternity and
infinity of the world. That is the source of the recurring
theme of appearing and disappearing images seen in
the past, repeatability of existence’s testimonies and
manifestations, but also poignant impression of pretence,
subjectivity of experienced phenomena.
In order to get a real, original image of the individual, it is
not only necessary to reject all costumes tailored from
extraneous contexts and evaluations, but also our self-images.
Only then, as the artist emphasises, we can reach the
pure ego, revealed in the process of eliminating what is
artificial, unnecessary and thereby falsifying the image.
What is external and internal in man can be unified.
Experiencing oneself as a part of the world becomes the
starting point in the process of developing the awareness
typical of the traditions of cultures of the East. It is the
planetary consciousness, whose opposite is self-definition
determined by participation in such defined and often
closed social unities as the nation, the state, political or
religious organization, which are paradigms of the culture
of the West (Aldona Jawłowska).
Self-discovery in the creative process which Wiesław
Haładaj has taken up is a kind of meditation, is somehow
religious in its nature. It can be defined as a spiritual path
of self-development, leading to a sense of fulfilment.
It increasingly relies on the existential, pre-reflective
experience, not only on the cognition through senses
and reason. The main point is to experience something,
to ‘touch’ it directly, not only to comprehend it.
where numerous rigours originate from, those which
the artist enforces on himself, realising his large-scale
works, filled with dense ‘hatching’, an effect of fastidious,
similar to calligraphic, monastic-like work. It also arouses
attempts to deepen the reflection in the works that come
back to some selected themes, as if in the process of
constant perfection, to select a simple, sincere and direct
Wiesław Haładaj’s works impress with their incredible
technical perfection. It lies in the earnest work which
does not only aim to achieve a temporary attractive
effect, does not seek random solutions, but it consistently
and in a planned manner shapes the fine and coherent
tissue of the artwork. It is an effort endowed with great
precision and self-discipline.
Although Wiesław Haładaj also deals with painting
and drawing, he expresses himself most of all in his
extraordinary graphic works, considering both the size
and the artistic effect (mainly linocuts, but also works
made in the technique of dry point). Figurative motifs are
created due to precisely cut out lines printed on tracing
paper or paper. The compositions can be often regarded
as abstract artistic variations.
To feel the form and to achieve its clarity by the
expressive cut, the artist usually uses large matrixes.
The author magnifies details - sometimes up to the
supernatural size - and he allows us to move closer to
the object. The prints make the viewer look inside the
What is particularly impressive to the viewer is the way
the space of Wiesław Haładaj’s graphics is created. The
multifaceted structure builds a great depth of the image.
It allows for constructing various relationships between
the forms of existence conceived by the author. He
successfully overcomes the ‘inherent flatness’ of linocut.
Spatiality is strengthened not only by the decisions
concerning the structure of the matrix. The choice of the
printing ground and the method of the works’ exposition
have also a great impact on that effect. The use of the
tracing paper - flexible, vital, constantly ‘working’, which
cannot be tamed even by the glass of the frame - helps
build an impression of the 3D image and the effect of
‘separation’ of the visual form from the plane.
When compared with other contemporary artistic
manifestations, Wiesław Haładaj’s work definitely stands
out. It also seems to resist the influence of artistic fashions
and trends. It recalls difficult themes, makes us quit
perceptive habits that impose traditional interpretations.
The characteristic, moving imagery of his works
originates from the manner he adopted to find answers
to important existential questions: about the sense and
essence of our existence, about the nature of man and
our identity. It is certainly the artist’s response to the need
of comprehension of his own fate.
Transl. Elżbieta Rodzeń-Le¶nikowska