Farewell to Jerzy Nowosielski (1923-2011)
#photography & visual arts
no-image, Farewell to Jerzy Nowosielski (1923-2011)
Polish painter Jerzy Nowosielski died on Monday, February 21 at the age of 88
Jerzy Nowosielski in his workshop in Kraków, July 12, 1987 photographed by Włodzimierz Wasyluk
Jerzy Nowosielski was among the most renowned contemporary painters, illustrators and designers in Poland. He painted female nudes, landscapes and abstract compositions, with a great part of his works inspired by the Byzantine style.
His friend and confidant Andrzej Starmach called Nowosielski his "second father", explaining "everyone knows that he was a great painter, but he was above all a wonderful person. He was able unite the art of the East and the West".
Jerzy Nowosielski was born on September 7, 1923 in Kraków. He studied at the city's Kunstgewerbeschule until Nazi occupation led him to enter a Lviv monastery in 1942, where he remained for several months until illness urged him back home. At the monastery he gained familiarity with theology and iconography, which later became quite an essential element of his art. In 1945 he matriculated into what is today's Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, studying under Professor Eugeniusz Eibisch. He didn't receive his degree, however, until 1961 as he strayed from his studies to explore other disciplines - working as an assistant to Tadeusz Kantor, serving as the Artistic Director for Poland's puppet theatre network and working on set design and costumes for various plays directed by Helnut Kajzar. He soon joined the Kraków-based Young Artists Group - Group I - and in 1957 he founded Group II. Between 1957-1962 he lectured at the Higher School of Arts in Łódź and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków up until his retirement in 1993.
In addition to creating works that were typical of the style of modern and contemporary art, he painted sacral scenes as wall paintings, iconostases, polychromes. His religious compositions can be found in a number of Orthodox and Catholic churches across Poland (Warsaw, Zawiercie, Gródek Białostocki, Górów Iławiecki) and in the Greek Catholic Church in Lourdes, France. His works are considered among the most significant examples of contemporary sacral art. His breakthrough came in 1955 with the "9 Contemporaries" exhibition in Kraków, after which his paintings were included in the Biennale exhibition in Venice that year. Today his paintings are part of major collections in Poland and the USA, Canada and Germany.
He received an Honoris Causa Doctorate from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in 2000 and the city's "Cracoviae Merenti" silver medal. In 1996 he and his wife Zofia set up the Nowosielski Foundation, which presents awards to young, promising artists.
In 2008 he was honoured with the Gloria Artis gold medal and in 2010 he won the Erazm and Anna Jerzmanowski prize from the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences for his artistic accomplishments, as well as his consistent efforts on behalf of uniting houses of worship and nations. He was already too ill at the time to accept the award in person.