Painter of landscapes and portraits, as well as educator associated with the Łódź Film School. He was born on the 13th of July, 1917 in Kraków. He died on the 14th of June, 2012 in Warsaw.
Mierzejewski came from a multigenerational family of artists. His father, Jacek Mierzejewski (1883-1925) was among the pre-war painters associated with the group of Polish Formists. His brother Andrzej (1915-1982) was also a visual artist. Both took up the work of art under the influence of their father, who remains the most famous of the three. The art of the younger Mierzejewskis was know only to a small circle of art lovers. It was only in the 1990s that their art was presented to the wider public.
Jerzy Mierzejewski commenced his studies in 1937 at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, but only formally graduated almost twenty years later (in 1956). At the academy, he attended the studio of Mieczysław Kotarbiński. Shortly after the war, he dealt mainly with organisational activities: he co-founded the branches of Polish Artists Association in Lublin and Łódź. Just as many artists in his day, he made a living by working on architectural decorations: painting and ceramics. Acting in conjunction with his brother, he founded Zespół 12 (Group 12), which embellished buildings in Warsaw, Poznań and Wrocław.
Mierzejewski was constantly in search for his personal artistic path. After a brief period of hesitation, in the late 1940s, the artist began to make art films and documentaries, and later television. He was fascinated by the common elements connecting art and film, as he expressed in a number of critical texts dealing with this subject.
It seemed that film would dominate much of his artistic output, especially since joining the staff at the Łódź National Film School in 1950, where he worked for many years. He was a respected teacher, teaching drawing and art issues in film. He served as dean of the directing and cinematography faculties. From 1974-1975, he was vice-rector of the school. He also lectured at the film school in Brussels.
During this time, he did not abandon painting, although this was put on the back burner. This was in part because of his duties at the university, while on the other hand, it also resulted from prolonged artistic pursuits. Mierzejewski travelled extensively looking for inspiration, visiting England, Austria, France, Germany and the United States, among others. Finally, he created his own artistic language, which due to a traditionalism – not to say "anachronism" – earned him recognition abroad. In the mid-1970s, the artist decided to divide his life between the Netherlands and Poland. From 1975-1988 he worked mainly in the Netherlands. In 1989 he returned to Poland and settled in Warsaw.
The artist's fascination with artists ranged from Fra Angelico, Ingres, Cézanne, to Poles like Mieczysław Janikowski. From these artists, Mierzejewski learned how to focus on a theme, restraint and simplicity. These where elements which, in his own words, fascinated him. He was also intrigued by how to construct an image using only the necessary elements.
Sometimes, one has the impression that some of his works are characterised by excessive attention to geometry basis – and even the coldness – of composition. This impression is intensified by the artist's restriction by the themes of his paintings and severity of his colour. Mierzejewski mainly painted portraits and landscapes. His paintings were dominated by various shades of white, pale blues and greens. The narrow expressive language were justified, however.
He emphasised the atmosphere of solitude, which emanates from most of his works. A good example of this type of solutions can be seen in his desolate landscapes of the Łódka / Boat series, launched in the 1970s, and continued well into the 1990s, as with Kanał / Channel, 1993. A perhaps more claustrophobic ambiance is depicted by paintings of the interior of the artist's painting studio, which includes a series entitled Pracownia / Workshop from the 1990s.
In the 1990s, Mierzejewski did away in some measure with these rigorous compositional solutions and introduced softer subjects (eg. vegetation), but the paintings did not lose their original, melancholy and occasional gloomy climate, as exemplified by the Ogrody / Gardens series.
In early June 2012, the Museum of Cinematography in Łódź organised an exhibition of paintings by Jerzy Mierzejewskito mark the upcoming 95th anniversary of the artist. He was awarded with a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Łódź Film School, and won the Golden Frog award at the Camerimage Festival in Toruń. He was decorated with a Commander's Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland and a Gloria Artis"Cultural Merit" Gold Medal. He was also one of the oldest members of the Association of Polish Filmmakers.
Author: Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak, Institute for Art History at the Catholic University in Lublin, February 2002, Edited and translated by Roberto Galea: July 2012