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 ‘decorativeness’.

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 image components.

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 contexts.

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.

That is 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 technique.

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 energetic images.

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.

Dariusz Le¶nikowski

Transl. Elżbieta Rodzeń-Le¶nikowska