Krzysztof Wawrzyniak   »

the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Łódź belongs to this generation of Polish artists who successfully pursue the glamorous traditions of graphic art in the field of woodcut and intaglio or relief print originating mainly from the 1960s and 1970s started by such outstanding artists as Mieczysław Wejman, Konrad Srzednicki, Józef Gielniak, Stanisław Fijałkowski, Jerzy Panek, Stanisław Wójtowicz and their younger followers: Ryszard Otręba, Jerzy Grabowski, Zbigniew Lutomski or Jacek Gaj. He belongs to that generation group who managed to preserve the tradition of classical graphic workshop and contributed to the general character of the phenomenon defined by art critics in Poland and abroad as 'Polish school of graphics'.

As far as relief print, techniques of woodcut and linocut are concerned, the artists , including Krzysztof Wawrzyniak, worked out a kind of new formula of graphics when compared with the work of their predecessors. It can particularly be observed in the works of the artists of in-between generation pursuing the technique of relief print, such as Tadeusz Nuckowski, Lesław Miśkiewicz, Jerzy Jędrysiak. This explicit generation transformation took place in the 1980s.

It was not a radical breakthrough in Polish graphics or forming a totally different artistic tradition - it was rather an evolutionary change referring to the resources of issues and means of expression present in the work of artists of older generation.

Krzysztof Wawrzyniak is the author of a few big cycles of graphic works and drawings. The first important cycles of linocuts were made at the beginning of the 1980s: 'Emigracje wewnętrzne' ('Internal Emigrations') /1981 - 1982/ and 'Agresje' ('Aggressions') /1984/. The next significant cycle is titled 'Tajemnica Wielkanocna' ('Easter Mystery') - made between 1983 -1985. 'Czarne skrzynie' ('Black Trunks') were made at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s /1988 - 1990/, 'Magiczne pole świadomości' ('Magic Field of Awareness') /1990-1993/ and 'Przedmioty codziennej kontemplacji' ('Objects of Everyday Contemplation') in 1992. In the period between 1995-1997 the artist made a cycle of drawings defined as 'Obszar' ('Area') and 'Obszar narysowany' ('Drawn Area'). At the same time a subsequent cycle of linocuts 'Zgodnie z naturą rzeczy' ('According to the Nature of Things') was made.

The cycles mentioned above, including up to a dozen works or so, and even a few dozen, like in case of the cycle of drawings, define the artist's work in the best way.

Each of the mentioned cycles is regarded as a whole, they have clear distinct elements of form - they represent a different kind of artistic experience. Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's art is a vivid emotional phenomenon. On the one hand it uses means of graphics to express states and moods deriving from personal experience, on the other hand - they are filtered personal reference to issues which are up to date, also in art. Although the artist makes cycles of works, they are not formal, based on any system. He rather exploits in a phenomenological way the content of visual areas which convey some meaning, consistent at a given moment with his perceptive and intellectual sensitivity and his internal aesthetic measure.

Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's work was rooted in the landscape of Polish graphic art in an unusually natural way. Since his first works which were made at the end of the 1970s and at the beginning of the 1980s and which were just the beginning of his presence in Polish artistic life, he has become a significant, appreciated and awarded artist.

Natural presence of his works at the local, all-Poland and international exhibitions was the result of the high standard which Krzysztof Wawrzyniak started his independent work with as a young yet fully developed artist. His works have always been distinguished by technical perfection, invention, multi-layer formal and meaning sphere, power of visual impact, an astonishing way of approach to the classical technique of relief print or a specific format.

In the 1980s and 1990s the artist reached the top of his expression based on the graphic language. Taking part in numerous exhibitions he got a dozen awards or so, including a few at big international exhibitions. It guaranteed him an opportunity to be present at most bigger presentations of Polish graphic art. His work was also presented in a big catalogue presenting Polish graphic art of the 1990s, published in 1996. *1 For many years he has been associated with Międzynarodowe Towarzystwo Drzeworytników XYLON (the International Association of Woodcutters XYLON) and Stowarzyszenie Międzynarodowe Triennale Grafiki (the Association of International Triennial of Graphics) in Kraków. He has also regularly participated in exhibitions held by these associations. Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's works can be seen at most exhibitions and graphic competitions in Poland, particularly at those whose subject is the techniques of woodcut and linocut, such as Quadrennial of Polish Woodcut and Linocut in Olsztyn or the exhibition of all-Poland Graphic Competition named after Józef Gielniak in Jelenia Góra. The analysis of the artist's biographic documents in the part referring to his participation in exhibitions in the period of the last 20 years reveals his great activity as far as the exhibitions go. His works are in the collections of most museums in Poland as well as in more important collections of graphic art abroad. Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's graphic creation owes a lot to the tradition of the 'Łódź School'. Having been 51 a student of such professors as Bartczak and Fijałkowski he inherited the best traditions from the Łódź school - both a truly professional approach to artistic work, profound professional knowledge in the field of graphic art and intellectual fineness.

Despite a definitely different artistic concept and form going away from the works of his professors, Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's work, like the work of a few other artists of in-between and young generation in Łódź is still a continuation of search the masters of the 'Łódź School' started. In the 1990s, especially in the second part of this period, the artist certainly expanded the formula of his art. He both introduced changes connected with the technique he used and with the character of his artistic vision. Whereas in his early works the predominant element was artistic graphics accompanied by the author's activity in the field of book illustrations and ex-libris, in the 1990s his work develops in two directions, including both graphics and drawing.

When characterizing Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's work of the 1990s in relation to the previous periods, we can observe a clear change which lies in a tranquillised and simplified form. In linocut there appears synthesis and conciseness - a frequent use of a sign.

The whole composition is limited to individual forms - signs, or to a set of signs close in their character to those which could be found in the far-East alphabets. The author makes these works both in the form of miniatures and in a big scale - some big format works measure more than two meters. The early herald of this type of works was the cycle 'Zgodnie z naturą rzeczy' ('According to the Nature of Things'), which was made in the middle of the 1990s. Within this cycle there are works whose visual action is limited to the relation of several simple elements - signs, containing a still remote echo of iconic character. These signs in the latest works are more connected with a universal abstract writing than with the sphere having iconic references. The big cycle of drawings 'Obszar narysowany' ('Drawn Area') represents similar simplicity, though it has a completely different artistic expression as it uses totally different means. The drawn area is filled with unusual visuality which is an expression of a direct transfer of sensitivity, as if it was a kind of aesthetic sublimation of psychic condition. The drawings of this cycle show no manipulation, no will of constructing, no workshop features - it is just staying in the area of silence, in a kind of gray matter deprived of any features, reaching transient areas of visual sensitivity, contemplating pure visuality.

In the technical sense this attempt of selfless expanding of the area of visual experience is the experience of potential mutual relations of charcoal and white paint.

Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's art is not easy to interpret - there are many plots, many attempts, many attitudes, many themes discussed. Literary titles of particular cycles are also metaphors - they only define an approximate area of the author's activity and they draw attention to the places where we can probably search for any interpretation clues. In this art privacy of artistic expression and the universal form seem to be essential. Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's works have a deep aesthetic sense. Assuming that it is a fully aesthetic independent Work, we can observe, however, that it does not have full autonomy like e.g. works of Concrete Art, whose sense is included in the system of their own internal rules. Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's works, particularly those made in the last years, have the character of sign metaphor and are close to the tradition of works which are at the same time writing and image, created by Japanese masters of calligraphy as well as by ordinary people who had been initiated into the mysteries of this kind of messages.

Many graphic artists from Łódź seem to have been inspired by the culture of the Far East, which is also probably true about Krzysztof Wawrzyniak. In the article 'Spojrzenie na powojenną grafikę łódzką' ('A Look at the Łódź Graphics After War') Krzysztof Jurecki includes Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's work in the intellectual and analytical trend, originating from Władysław Strzemiński through Stanisław Fijałkowski and Andrzej Bartczak. 'Andrzej Bartczak's follower, running his own studio, is Krzysztof Wawrzyniak, the author of linocuts, full of workshop virtuosity, which might also be perceived as the remains of conceptual art.' *2

No matter what potential classification we choose, Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's formula of art appears to be always open and alive, based on the author's poetic sensitivity which lets him revive his own artistic concept preserving what is most personal in his art.

A review of the artistic and didactic work of Krzysztof Wawrzyniak, academic teacher of the Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Łódź - for the procedure of appointing him a professor (a fragment).

Professor Jan Pamuła,
Kraków, 14th April, 2000

1. Jan Fejkiel, Danuta Wróblewska, Tomasz Gryglewicz, Polska grafika lat dziewięćdziesiątych, Wyd. Buffi, Bielsko-Biala 1996.
2. Krzysztof Jurecki, Spojrzenie na powojenną grafikę łódzką, Format, 1995, 20/21, nr 3-4.

Contacts with didactic teachers of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design are very special to me because of their distinguishing works which I find at the most important exhibitions of art in Poland and abroad. This statement also refers to Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's graphics. At every exhibition I easily spot his works which convey much individualised features. This attribute distinguishes the whole environment of graphic artists in Łódź. The group has unique hallmarks of distinctness and it determines a greater explicitness in the continuous search for new approaches. The permanent ambitious search for new solutions is associated with the school which was named after Władysław Strzemiński - representative of avant-garde of contemporary art. The same spirit of search and being faithful to certain ideas is a characteristic feature of graduates from the Łódź school.

Krzysztof Wawrzyniak, as an unquestionable artistic personality, is an exceptionally active dynamic creator of graphics and drawings, which is confirmed by his participation in many exhibitions of art.

Since the latest appointment he has still been taking part in all more important exhibitions of graphics in the country, exhibitions of Polish graphics abroad and in the international exhibitions. He presented his works at Triennale Grafiki (Triennial of Graphics) in Kraków, XYLON - Triennale Drzeworytu (Triennial of Woodcut) in Winterthur, the Exhibition of Graphics in Seul, Norweskim Triennale Grafiki (Norwegian Triennial of Graphics) in Fredrikstad, Intergrafia (Intergraphics) in Katowice, etc.

He brought to Kraków his collection of works made in the last years. It was a pleasure for me to look through the graphics like we look through a photo album. They made a big impression on me. I looked at these works at random sequence. Wawrzyniak does not make distinct cycles. All the works, however, have something that links them, no matter what sequence we choose, forming at the same time harmonious unity which can not be separated. The joy of life present in works, which is revealed in creative passion, deserves appreciation. He gives an evidence of his great potential which confirms the authentic and very personal expression.

Looking through the latest graphics and talking to Krzysztof Wawrzyniak surprised me with the amount of new original proposals. So far it has seemed to me that I know his work well. There are traces of intimate experience in these works. I have noticed a combination of synthetic forms close in their expression to a typographic sign, or even better - to calligraphic ideogram. What counts most is an emotion expressed by means of a patch and a line, which endows his graphics with full expression. The characteristic feature of his art is a kind of magic, mystery, which we do not expect to find the answer to. The latest works have the hallmarks of ambiguity of message, and a given phenomenon is presented by means of his own signs. He obeys intuition and rich imagination . He is a careful observer.

It is the same with Wawrzyniak's drawing. He links a fundamental gesture with introspection, which evokes emotions. Drawing as a spontaneous reaction to external stimuli is the most direct and frank record of thoughts, without any workshop pressure, like it happens in case of graphics. By simple means of expression he presents the area of silence, a unique dialogue with the world. Wawrzyniak is not only the artist who says something significant - he is the artist who we willingly get in touch with by means of his works.

Searching for the features of his own language in drawing is tantamount to the content of a message. Expectations towards art, including drawing, became the fundamental value. I suppose that, regardless of changing trends in art, drawing will develop according to the previous rules. Like in each art discipline, significant artistic achievements occur in drawing too. They are examples of a new approach to the formerly well-known phenomena which were seen, thought over and preserved many times. However, when they are noticed, transferred and commented in a different way than so far it expands the range of understanding and perception.

In his preface to the catalogue of the exhibition entitled 'Obszar narysowany Krzysztofa Wawrzyniaka' ('Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's Drawn Area') which took place in Łódź in 1998 Jerzy Poradecki characterised his art in the following way: ...Up to the present day the essential feature of Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's work has been a constant tension between a person and the world, subject and object, 'I' and the others. Thus the Artist's work is a kind of dialogue and it is the dialogue it works well in. In the last years Wawrzyniak has constantly been considering the 53 essence of that 'between', he has still been trying to formulate again the elementary principles of coexistence of the artist and the world. In a such a different way, however, than previously... I refer to Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's skills of operating the maximum contrast of black and white, balance of figure and its background, size relation, etc. with respect and admiration. He rigorously enforces the rule which limits a variety of distinctions. He reduces them to simple sign elements linking them together by means of dramatic transfers from white to black and the other way round. Wawrzyniak carries out transformations of relationships observed in nature, creating a new quality. Once it is a shape of an object likely to be distinguished, next time it is pure matter. He reveals the power and beauty which fertilise our consciousness. We deal with a synthesis - brief message having a great power of effect. He constructs new, artistically innovative expressions, using unique elements.

His studies are a search for a difficult to define distinction between 'order and chaos'. We could even make a statement that the whole effort is based on putting everything in order which turns out to be a great adventure. He creates totally new unpredictable relationships, he can surprise by his ability to discover things. There is something in it which is only typical of an outstanding artist, a careful observer.

Wawrzyniak's works are a significant contribution to the image of 'order and chaos' subject, the issue so often discussed by scientists and theoreticians of art.

His works are in the collections of Muzeum Narodowe in Gdańsk, Wrocław, museums in Jelenia Góra, Malbork, Toruń, in Majdanek, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź or the Museum of Contemporary Graphic Art in Fredrikstad, Graphische Sammlung Albertina in Vienna, the British Library in London, Polish Museum of America in Chicago and others, and in many private collections. Wawrzyniak is a member of XYLON - the International Association of Woodcutters with the seat in Winterthur.

An appraisal of Krzysztof Wawrzyniak's artistic and didactic work included in the procedure of appointing him a professor of fine arts (a fragment).

Professor Ryszard Otręba,
Kraków, 22nd March, 2000