Let’s Paint Catholicism Again
The opening ceremony of the exhibition “Let’s paint catholicism again”: “Annunciation” will take place on November 17, 2023! Twenty paintings depicting the Annunciation interpreted by outstanding contemporary Polish painters will be presented for the first time in the basement of the Warsaw-Praga Cathedral. Plans for the future include – Deo volente – another nineteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary, i.e. more paintings, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and a growing shelf of books devoted to theology, philosophy and the history of sacred art.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Meet our supporters
Jolanta & Mirosław Gruszka
St. John Paul II was the most important authority for our generation and for us personally. When he was elected Pope we were still high school students. That is why we consider it an achievement of a lifetime and a tremendous honour to be able to support this extraordinary initiative dedicated to the spread of his thought about Christianity, Europe, and Poland: the St. John Paul II Institute of Culture at the Angelicum in Rome. Future generations will significantly benefit from studying the thought and philosophy of this holy Pope from Poland, whose role is of incredible significance for the future of the Church, as well as that of the world. This is our humble attempt to pay back an unpayable debt which we owe to John Paul II.
Our rapidly developing civilization has increasingly strong and internal problems resulting from disregard of basic anthropological roots. I believe that exercises and lectures at the St. John Paul II Institute of Culture will help its students to develop and propose gospel solutions to the world by John Paul II. I am convinced that learning from John Paul II and thinking together with him can help all of us to build better world.
St John Paul II was a remarkable thinker and philosopher, an extraordinary Pole, whose intellecutal hertitage is of universal value. As such it should be furtherly studied and reflected on. Rome and Angelicum – his Alma Mater – are particularly well-suited for this purpose.
I consider the St. John Paul II Institute of Culture to be a fundamentally important center for spreading the Catholic faith by means of exploration and promotion of the teachings of our Great Pope. It is fascinating to be involved in a work which – in the face of today’s challenges – so broadly addresses the issues of the renewal of Christian culture. On a personal level through the cooperation with the Insitute I also experience a greater spiritual connection with my beloved Saint.
Jaroslaw Modzelewski graduated with a Master’s Degree in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and has been associated with the Academy ever since educating art students. He is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding living Polish painters.
In 1982, he co-founded Gruppa, a group of artists who protested against the system of political dictatorship in Poland at that time and against the artistic stagnation resulting from the post-avant-garde lack of new ideas. Gruppa painters articulated their rebellion in a neo-expressionist style, which is also characteristic of Modzelewski’s art.
Since the mid-1980s, the painter has been increasingly returning to figurative painting, the form which he continues to develop until now. Figures imposed on empty spaces of smooth backgrounds powerfully transmit messages to the viewer.
The end of the 1990s brought yet another transformation in Modzelewski’s art, this time much more significant. He decided to use (as it seemed at first, only temporarily) tempera paints. Modzelewski discovered that this way of painting suited him very well, and so he remains faithful to it to this day.
The technological transformation resulted in further significant changes, impacting his use of color in the paintings. They became much softer and filled with light. Painting with tempera on the one hand allows him to play with texture, which becomes more pronounced the longer one looks at it, and on the other to move away from his sometimes aggressive expression to a calmer oeuvre with a more analytical approach to the presented visions of the world.
Ignacy Czwartos studied painting at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, and received his diploma in Tadeusz Wolański’s studio.
Ignacy Czwartos’ art reveals very strong ties with two prominent painters, Jerzy Nowosielski and Andrzej Wróblewski. One can also notice a strong fascination with the culture of old Poland and the tradition of the struggle for independence, especially the underground independence movement after the Second World War. The dense space of his works, the empty backgrounds, the simplified forms of human figures refer us to the Sarmatian culture of 17th and 18th-century Poland. Thus, there are football fans, nuns, and members of the post-war independence underground in Czwartos’ paintings shown as direct descendants of noblemen, monks, or genteel burghers who once lived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
His paintings feature religious motifs which, while seemingly obvious and understandable in their form, are not signs with unambiguous meaning. It is not sacred art in the strict sense of the word, it does not serve the faithful in spiritual practice, but at the same time it does not treat religious motifs as symbols on par with other cultural signs.
Czwartos is not only a painter, he is also a cartoonist. A cartoonist who surprises. As he says, he is reticent and reserved in painting, while his drawing work is talkative. One would say, uncontrollable.
Wincenty Czwartos, a student of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, is still struggling to develop his own style that will allow him to create bold religious visions. As can be observed in the exhibitions in which he participates, he is very successful in his endeavors. In his works to date, one can see the painter’s strong ties to the best traditions of Polish painting, primarily the Baroque and the modernism of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
It is clear that in these areas the painter moves freely and operates without major problems not only in form, but also in subject matter, using motifs popular in ancient art, as well as those established in contemporary popular culture.
Jacek Dłużewski graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow under Jerzy Nowosielski, and has since been successfully teaching the art of painting in Polish art academies for years. The influence of his master is clearly visible in his artwork. It is not only the ability to synthesize the form of a painting, which absolutely must not be confused with simplification. What is important in his painting is the ability to peculiarly sacralize the subject presented. It is not a matter of a religious dimension of this art, but the ability to add a certain “extra dimension” to the paintings – a realm of mystery. It should not surprise anyone that such an ability may lead to religious painting.
To understand Dłużewski’s art, it is best to confront his series of paintings, which allow one to grasp his understanding of painting and his way of observing and artistically processing the world he views. The works he creates can best be described in terms of reaction to the reality which the painter confronts with his senses.
The synthetically captured figures presented in a condensed space gain astonishing energy due to their simplified silhouettes and being rendered by means of cubic forms. Planes that build a sense of space with only light and shadow are evidence of true virtuosity in his use of the brush. The simpler the forms and the more decorative, almost devoid of three-dimensionality the space of the composition, the more character it acquires. Despite simplifying the forms, Dłużewski gives the faces of the figures shown in his paintings a portrait-like character, endowing them with individual personality.
Wojciech Głogowski received his diploma from the Adam Mickiewicz University Department of Art Education in Kalisz, in the studio of Tadeusz Wolański.
In the paintings of this artist from Wrocław, we see an interesting synthesis of preserved memories, old photographs, advertisements, and artworks, as well as illustrations from books for children. The figures shown in stylized, verging on theatrical, poses powerfully affect the viewers’ senses. Their essential elements are the eyes: large, expressive, intensely staring.
Intuitively, we also sense the great importance of the equipment which forms the background for the depicted characters. Those old kinescopes, lamps or cameras are equal “heroes” of the paintings, breaking up the plane of the canvas and giving them an archaic character, thanks to which we discover that in Głogowski’s works time seems not so much to have stopped, as to be running with its own rhythm, often in unexpected directions.
The artist visualizes his ideas using two components: maximally condensed spaces, as if he tried to eliminate them, and a cool color palette, illuminated by light of indeterminate source. It has been repeatedly emphasized that Głogowski’s color palette (barely visible cobalts, plum purples, cool and warm pinks, deep greens, dark browns, emerald highlights) refers viewers to other, as it seems, immeasurably remote worlds.
Głogowski’s paintings are filled with subtle, warm irony. The painter maintains a distance from his figures, and paradox is as important a tool for him as the color palette or the texture of his canvases.
Jacek Hajnos OP
Jacek Hajnos, a friar in the Dominican Order, is a graduate of the Faculty of Graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. Very early he gained recognition as a creator of graphics, which are immensely expressive, yet frugal in the means adopted.
Although religious themes have dominated Fr. Hajnos’ art since he discovered his religious vocation, he has remained faithful to his style of jittery thin lines contrasted with large black spots. And while in his interesting illustrations – portraits of homeless people featured in the publication “Różnica” (“Difference”), we see some softening of the image, his style has remained so consistent that we have no doubt who the author is.
Krzysztof Klimek graduated from the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow as a student of Jerzy Nowosielski, which, as he claims, has permanently defined his work. Initiation into artistic arcana by that outstanding master caused Klimek to follow two trends in his painting, on the one hand, non-representational abstraction, and on the other, realistic landscapes.
His painting is a reaction to the world which he views and analyzes every day.
Landscapes, still lifes, everyday objects, or, finally, a view from the studio window are all disassembled by the artist into primary elements, only to be reassembled into works almost mimetic in their literalness. His abstract works, in contrast to his realistic art, are an attempt to paint impulses that come to the artist’s mind from beyond the range of light waves available to our senses. These paintings by Klimek are a form of his exploring such indefinite interactions through the means of painting – an attempt to paint the invisible.
Bogna Podbielska is not only a painter, but also a theater director. She graduated with a diploma from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow and the Academy of Dramatic Arts. She combines the talents and passions working as a graphic editor and illustrator for “Theater” magazine.
Her expressionist paintings are seemingly burdened with a mannerism created by a combination of sharp lines and expressive to the point of acrimony, often contrasting colors. However, in the artist’s works one can clearly see a search for a way to convey themes rather than for a strong expression. The themes we would commonly describe as “difficult”.
One of them is the search for a way to manifest the sacred of Christianity in contemporary painting. Her art is not only about creating new iconography which is easier for the modern viewer to comprehend. The goal is also to move into areas of aesthetics that on the one hand will transfer viewers to timeless spheres of prayer and contemplation, but on the other – by maintaining a contemporary sensibility – will allow them to feel at home in those worlds.
Beata Stankiewicz received her diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow in the studio of Józef Ząbkowski. She began her painting adventure by working on monumental works and large-scale canvases. As time goes by, her paintings increasingly appeal to the viewer with their concise form. The goal is not to show the characteristics of the painted object, but the visual play of its shape with the background, which is flat and monochromatic, sometimes suggesting the endlessness of the sky, and sometimes abandoning even this suggestion. Tree trunks or windows become the forms shaping the space of a painting, hence over time Stankiewicz’s compositions simplify the depicted figures into modules (as the artist herself titles them). The only question is: what can be constructed from these modules?
The development of her work is impossible to separate from her other major medium, namely film and photography. Beata Stankiewicz observes the world around her, looking at it as if it were a constantly transforming form that can be captured and, by the power of artistic imagination, fixed either in a digital or a pictorial record. Therefore, her paintings on the one hand present realistic studies of interiors and spaces, often in very large formats, and on the other hand show the world “from behind the window”, voyeuristic, hazy and not entirely clear.
An important aspect of Stankiewicz’s work is realistic, or even hyper-realistic, portrait painting, which aims to show not only the external appearance, but also the character and importance of the person depicted.
Artur Wąsowski graduated from the Graphics Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and is currently trying his hand at many areas of art, practicing painting, but also utility and artistic graphics, drawing, sculpture, and illustration.
Wąsowski’s art is characterized by strong expression achieved through contrasting color combinations and boldly shaped compositions. They are highly animated, which is due to the artist’s ability to give his figures either the impression of dynamic movement or the full energy foreshadowing the movement.
In his works the artist tries to depict the most fundamental problems of faith. At the same time, it should be noted that although he bases his search on juxtaposed (as strongly contrasting as colors) sacrum and profanum, as well as corporeality and spirituality, he makes his message understandable. He owes that to his skillful handling of elements derived from Christian iconography and motifs associated with religion, and, above all, to modernizing the message, as well as combining the religious message with contemporary culture.
Grzegorz Wnęk is professor at the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, head of the drawing studio.
The main subject of Grzegorz Wnęk’s paintings is the human; he focuses on character studies that are fleeting presentations of human fate and its relationship with nature.
His work can be classified as realistic or figural painting. Nevertheless, it is work that proves that he is perfectly familiar with the experiences of the history of 20th century art. We see realism reaching as far as the level of hyperrealistic painting, the neo-expressionism of the New Wild, painting reaching the depths of abstraction and, finally, far-reaching simplifications of composition and the presented figures, modelled on the avant-garde.
Michał Żądło is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. He defended his diploma in 2022 in the studio of Professor Janusz Matuszewski.
The work of Michał Żądło thus far consists of paintings which clearly invoke the work of the old masters, primarily those of the Baroque and Gothic. Yet it is not about simple imitation, but rather about the creative use of the best models. In his portraits and character studies, he uses a technique based on the realistic creation of the world analysed using colours. At the same time, the young artist creates a world filled with lyricism and mystery in his paintings, one which allows his work to be termed magical realism.