Born in 1926 in Krakow, died in 1987 in Warsaw.
Born in 1926 in Krakow, died in 1987 in Warsaw. Along with Marek Oberländer, Jacek Sienicki, and Elżbieta Grabska, Dziedziora was a member of the core group which conceived and implemented the idea of the "Against War, Against Fascism" Polish National Exhibition of Young Visual Arts, mounted in the summer of 1955 at Warsaw's Arsenal.
Along with Marek Oberländer, Jacek Sienicki, and Elżbieta Grabska, Dziedziora was a member of the core group which conceived and implemented the idea of the Against War, Against Fascism Polish National Exhibition of Young Visual Arts (Ogólnopolska Wystawa Młodej Plastyki Przeciw wojnie - przeciw faszyzmowi), mounted in the summer of 1955 at Warsaw's Arsenal. It was at this exhibition that Dziedziora first gained recognition as a painter.
He spent his childhood in Krakow and joined the Home Army at age seventeen, becoming a member of the "Żelbet" ("Reinforced Concrete") grouping in the same city. He was awarded a Warrior's Cross for his participation in the resistance movement, and Dziedziora's two brothers, Franciszek and Władysław, were also members of underground organizations during the second world war.
He began studying art in 1946 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under the Colorist painter Zygmunt Radnicki and continued his studies from 1946 to 1951 in Warsaw, where he studied with Aleksander Rafałowski, an artist whose works he admired. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw for short time, from 1980-85, although this time of instruction was interrupted by frequent periods of hospitalization. He was encouraged to teach by his friends, who saw Dziedziora as a moral and artistic authority. During the last years of his life he enjoyed something akin to a cult following, though he lived beyond the limelight of exhibition salons and expressed unending faith in the value of painting in solitude. When at the beginning of the 1960s he realized that the changes occurring with the thaw of October 1956 were at best transitory and fundamentally superficial, he chose internal exile. He had only two solo exhibitions, both at the House of the Visual Artist in Warsaw, in 1966 and 1975. The second of these was organized in connection with his receiving the prestigious Jan Cybis Prize, for which he was nominated by friends. Dziedziora became active again in the 1980s with the advent of Martial Law; it was at this time that he became a part of the independent exhibition movement. He was honored for his stance in 1982 with a Solidarity Prize.
Dziedziora was a painter and draftsman, though he also created monumental art (sgraffito murals, mosaics) at times in an effort to make money. He viewed the exhibition at the Arsenal as the starting point of his artistic biography. The show included a series of his still lifes with simple objects (Martwa natura z chlebem / Still Life with Bread, Martwa natura z pietruszkami / Still Life with Parsley - for which he won a prize) and some restrained charcoal drawings (Pijacy / Drunkard, Śpiąca / Sleepy). Also impressive was a painting remembered to this day, a scene depicting The Meal / Posiłek. With this work Dziedziora created a canvas that was overtly anti-Socialist Realist and clearly anti-Colorist, in its drama and pessimism corresponding rather with some works by Andrzej Wróblewski. In it the artist depicted a poor, overworked man bowed over a bowl of soup set upon the raw wood surface of a table; a piece of dark bread and a simple knife lie alongside the bowl. It was the author of these paintings who was referred to as the "Warsaw Siberian", but their heroes also bring to mind the lonely exile, similar to the men we already know from the early, Siberian paintings of Jacek Malczewski. Lack of care for the subtleties of color and course depiction that augments expressive power made Dziedziora's works almost programmatic and cause them today to be readily set alongside Oberländer's Cebule / Onions.
Dziedziora is today viewed, along with Jacek Sęmpoliński and Jacek Sienicki, as one of the leading carriers of the moral message behind the show at the Arsenal, a message according to which art should be uncompromising and existentially engaged. Throughout almost his entire creative career he remained interested in suffering and the working classes as subjects. Above all, he painted humans degrading under difficult labor (Praca / Work, 1958-60; the Asfalciarze / Asphalt Layers series, begun in 1955 and continued through the end of the 1970s) and physical and psychological pain (the series Postać milczaca / Silent Figure, 1979-83, and Zbity / Beaten, 1979-86). "I create paintings that depict humans in distress, beaten down, swaying on their own legs", he once stated. He would add that in this way he sought to give form to his own anguish and suffering, but his art clearly carried more universal meaning. He agreed with interpretations of his work that claimed this, just as he agreed with overtly Christian readings of his portrayal of suffering individuals. While hospitalized in 1982 he noted, "[...] I painted images of suffering Christ in 1970 from the photograph of the workers massacre in Gdańsk. But the beginning was always within me."
The formal transformation that occurred in Dziedziora's art was marked by his abandonment of his legible figuration of the 1950s in favor of the deformation of later decades, an accenting of textures, and his dismantling of forms into arrangements of smaller elements modeled out of pulsating paint. This resulted in aesthetically refined compositions that contradicted the principles employed by "Arsenal artists" and acted counter to the intentions of the author, who struggled incessantly against his natural sensitivity for color and an inborn and ever more confident and mature ability to create paintings of exceptional beauty, enchanting for their refined, vibrating colors (Zbity / Beaten, 1985-86). Dziedziora often took years to complete a canvas, as if wanting in this way to neutralize the charm of its colors; often, however, he would achieve the opposite, only augmenting their beauty over time. He simply failed to complete many of his works. In his last paintings, which are almost abstract, the silhouettes of human figures (Postać milcząca / Silent Figure) or distant echoes of landscapes (Cimochowizna, 1979) are barely evident within the arrangements of color planes. The artist also left behind a series of black and white drawings; simplified yet dramatic, these are sometimes more directly expressive than his painted works.
Examined as a whole, this outstanding artist's output is exceptional in the context of Polish art, and his uncompromising stance impresses if only through unflinching openness and honesty. During recent decades audiences have been reminded of his paintings by Jacek A. Zieliński, curator of the "Krąg Arsenalu" ("Arsenal Circle") Collection at the Jan Dekert Lubuskie Museum (formerly the Regional Museum) in the city of Gorzów Wielkopolski. The collection of this museum includes the afore-mentioned painting Posiłek / The Meal (exhibited alongside Oberländer's Cebule / Onions). The first posthumous solo exhibition of Dziedziora's work was held at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1990. However, the monographic exhibition organized at Warsaw's Zachęta Contemporary Art Gallery in 1994 proved to be the first true summation of the artist's achievements.
Author: Malgorzata Kitowska-Lysiak, Art History Institute of the Catholic University of Lublin, Faculty of Art Theory and the History of Artistic Doctrines, December 2001.