Tag: carpatho-rusyn artist from poland

Justyna Maksymczak – a young talent from southwestern Poland

One evening I checked out the Rusyn Art Facebook page and I noticed a post by Vanio Fesz with three words – our Lemko girl. The link took me to very modern, abstract paintings and sculptures by Justyna Maksymczak from Przemkow, Poland. She majored in the most wonderful art fields: conservation and restoration of masterpieces, renovation of artistic craft and architectural detail, and now topping it with MA in art history, spending her last semester in Germany. She has exhibited with The Warhol Effect: Lemko Jerusalem and it is through her that I got to know other Carpatho-Rusyn artists involved in it. 

Some of the oil paintings that I had the advantage to go through reminded me of abstract expressionism, yet not necessarily of its color blast. Justyna chooses her palette well. It can be somewhat subdued and gentle, with purposeful accents of primary colors applied to draw the eye in, to focus. Or, she can juxtapose more vivid tones in a fantastic medley the effect of which will be nothing short of an exhilarated movement. And either way she goes, she retains her signature that makes the works recognizably hers.

Mateusz Budzynski – exploring space and color

Lemko Jerusalem, or Łemkowskie Jeruzalem, is an art initiative in southeastern Poland (Krakow, Gorlice) that has been capturing for the past thirteen years the trends in the contemporary Lemko art community. Its artists draw from their rich culture and look to the outstanding Lemko/Rusyn artists like Nikifor or Warhol, thus exploring their own cultural identity and opening up the secrets of the Lemko culture to the viewers of their artwork.

My Silence by Mateusz Budzynski Source: Courtesy of Mateusz Budzynski
My Silence by Mateusz Budzynski
Source: Courtesy of Mateusz Budzynski

One of the 16 artists who are involved with the project this year is Mateusz Budzynski, who earned a degree in painting in 2000 at the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw. He teaches painting and drawing, and has been exhibiting individually and collectively since 1999. His earlier works show influences as different as iconography, abstract expressionism or pop art. In his recent works he focuses, as he says, on the effects a particular arrangement of objects and figures has in a suggested space, through abstraction, raw forms and colors used sparingly, even on the detriment of a more finished execution. But what are these effects? Emptiness, Silence, Despair are what he tells us directly by their titles. Yet in Illumination we feel irony, with Return there is exposure, and Indenpedent leaves us skeptical about the genuineness of the concept. Budzynski’s artistic dream is to paint one dot on a canvas, but he laughs: “Where the hell would I place that dot?”(1)

Jerzy Nowosielski – “painting is a sacred act”

When researching Jerzy Nowosielski, I suddenly wasn’t certain which type of works of this world-renowned Lemko painter and historian I should show you in this post. The highly abstract nudes or the biblical scenes?

His devout faith lead him to creating icons and religious paintings for churches in Poland, his strong ties to the Lemko region informed his creativity through and through. His secular art is intense and bold in color, subject matter and composition – and I came across some pretty heavy-worded and quite contradictory interpretations of his works. It always makes me wonder how much of such analyses the artist really intended. His religious pieces are without any pretension or conspicuous elaborateness. The figures tend to stand against plain backgrounds and all the focus is on them – on their interaction, or distance, their facial expressions, if any, and the effect of the dominant colors.

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Teodor Kuziak – the man who had seen it all

You’re probably curious what it means. Well, it’s a personal impression, really. To me, if you’ve seen a war, you’ve seen it all. During WW II, Kuziak dug trenches, built bunkers and eventually fought in the VI Guard Division of the III Ukrainian Front that joined Red Army in drawing the Nazis out. In 1947 (during Operation Wisla) he was one of the 200,000 non-Polish minority civilians forcefully relocated from southeastern Poland where he lost two uncles to death camps.

Kuziak is a Lemko artist classified within the Rusyn naïve art, together with Stefan Telep, NikiforMiroslav Potoma and Michal Sirik. As it is with the rest of the group, Kuziak, too, put his own twist on capturing  his native lands and celebrating everyday moments in the Lemko village where he himself was a farmer. One can discern certain tension in his paintings, developed especially through a slightly rigid rendering of the characters’ facial expressions, and through a sharper line. Again, this is a stylistic choice that makes you aware of the underlying realness of the scene, and not the fairy-tale-like depiction of the village life, because both strain and relief are present.

Source: http://teodorkuziak.prv.pl/


Continuing in the Lemko spirit, I want to point out the work of a well-known naive and folk artist – Nikifor from Krynica. There is plenty of information in English about him, so I won’t be telling you what you can read anywhere else. You can even watch a movie called My Nikifor.

Rich Custer and me were exchanging some insights on how the three naive artists Telep, Nikifor and Potoma differ in their style, their color palette and the impression their works give. He aptly pointed out that the differences are largely due to a broader socio-politico-economical flavor of the times they live(d) and work(ed) in:

“Nykyfor lived through WWI, WWII, and Akcja Wisla – very traumatic times, whereas Potoma, coming of age during the Prague Spring and maturing through the Velvet Revolution, seems to express romantic notions of the Rusyn village life from “the good old days,” which he probably remembers from his childhood [and] adolescence.”

A View of Krynica by Nikifor
Source: http://kdoutsiderart.com/2012/06/25/nikifor-1895-1968/