Kissing the Wind

October 24, 2019 · 8 min read

Interview with Malwina Cieślik
Price winner of 7th International Biennial “The Art of Miniature”

Kissing The Wind by Malwina Cieślik at BeArte Gallery
Kissing The Wind by Malwina Cieślik at BeArte Gallery
Malwina Cieslik

Malwina Cieślik, artist from Radomsko, Poland.

Graduate of the Faculty of Arts, the Academy of Fine Arts in Częstochowa (currently the University of Humanities and Natural Sciences of J. Długosz)

She completed her artistic diploma with distinction in the lithography studio under the supervision of dr hab. Krystyna Szwajkowska.

Grand Prix Seventh International Biennial The Art of Miniature, 2019, Ruse, Bulgaria

I am constantly searching for different methods of expression in paintings.
My inspiration is mainly journeys, a space around me, a piece of music, wind and water and of course good coffee.
I like to paint places associated with memories and emotions. These are especially ports, sea landscapes and architecture of the visited cities

Malwina Cieślik

Beata Piechocka: First of all, congratulations winning the Grand Prix for the miniature “Kissing the Wind”. At BeArte Gallery this news was very warmly received, we are all proud and pleasure of cooperating with you. My first question to you, why did you decide to participate in Seventh International Biennial The Art of Miniature, 2019 Ruse, Bulgaria, what has attracted you to this event?

Malwina Cieślik: Thank you very much. I often take part in various competitions, biennials etc., so I thought, why not look for something abroad? I thought about the miniature because I like this form very much and I focused on searching art events for miniature. I found the Art Biennale in Bulgaria organized by Gallery Rose and addressed to artists from around the world. The topic was “… by the memory of the past …” (quotation from The Professor’s Knife by Tadeusz Różewicz) I was born in Radomsko, just like Tadeusz Różewicz 98 years ago.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I read the topic of the biennial. The matter was obvious. I couldn’t let it go!

By Michał Kobyliński from - Poetyckie Foto Niusy - File:Rozewicz Grass.JPG, CC BY-SA 2.5,
By Michał Kobyliński from - Poetyckie Foto Niusy -
SoMe Ads For Biennale (Newsletter 800x250)

BP. I can only imagine how excited you were. It must be your perfect topic as in the end you beat more than 100 artists from many countries. This is a real reason to feel proud. Will this award somehow change your approach to the current technique or subject of the painting?

MC: Perhaps. I am a graphic designer and architect by profession, but I paint because I love it. All these fields of art complement each other nicely. When I paint I think about line and form rather than colour. I am constantly looking for different methods of expression. Miniatures often complement my exhibitions. I try not to close myself for anything. I don’t exclude anything. I allow myself to flow, try, search. Maybe someday the existential philosophy will completely dominate my work, who knows?

BP: The theme of the Biennale was referred to Tadeusz Różewicz’s poem “Professor’s Knife”. In your miniatures, you referred strictly to the topic of occupation in Poland, the Treblinka camp. Do you have any personal, family stories related to this?

MC: My immediate family happily avoided such tragedies. Only my grandfather had been sent to forced labor in Germany. He survived the war and created a family. He died in 2001. His wartime stories were often the main topic of our talks. The topic of occupation in Poland is an important and difficult topic for every Pole.

“Professors Penknife” by Tadeusz Różewicz, is a book of poetry, which became the inspiration for 7th International Bienale.  Malwina Cieślik has chosen a sentence from one of the poems which became a title for the winning artwork of her “Kissing the Wind”. Read more about Tadeusz Różewicz here.

Professor Penknife by T.Różewicz

BP: The title of the painting “Kissing Wind” also refers to one of the poems in “Professor’s Knife” by Tadeusz Różewicz. This is the moment when the female sculptor Alina leaning out the window of a cattle wagon and she kisses the wind. Why did you decide to choose this part of the poetry?

MC: This fragment was most remembered by me. There is everything in it that cannot be directly described. I do not want anything to add or deprive of the painting. Or create any secret in it. I want to give the recipient the possibility of creating his own interpretation.

B.P. You usually work with marine art motifs, but before in your paintings, you’ve been inspired by literature. I mean paintings as Solt or Malachite Meadows. However, the topic of the Biennale and especially poetry Rózewicz is slightly different, it’s heavier in terms of meaning and existential approach. All the time you probably had been accompanied by difficult emotions and reflections on the cruel part of human nature. How did you work with this topic?

M.C:  A poetry accompanies me from an early age, both read and sung. Often, when I paint a picture, fragments of poems come to my mind and process of painting happens naturally. My admiration for the beauty of the Dalmatian and Solta landscapes and the poetry of Krzysztof Baczyński resulted in a large series “Malachite Meadows”. Therefore, working under the slogan of the current Biennale was very interesting to me, because it also concerned poetry. The interpretation of “the memory of the past” can be very diverse and rich as the message of Różewicz.

His poem contains a lot of emotions, many layers of meaning; human destruction, helplessness in the face of fate, mutual relations, death … Sea, which I often paint, is also a huge metaphor of existence. There is everything in it. I am also aware of important problems concerning our planet and the individual. After all, it is not just sadness that is beautiful.

BP: You also presented 2 other miniatures at the biennial. Whether they were series or each of them should be treated individually?

MC. The competition regulations allowed me to send only three works of art, but I created much more. Różewicz’s poem, as I mentioned, aroused a lot of deep emotions in me, which was manifested in the artistic work. I made a whole series of miniatures on this topic. They are very different stylistically, but they share a common motif – railroad tracks. Rails that remember cattle cars that transported people to death. And yet these wagons told us about human relations, there was a young boy, and a young girl, whose work we could never know. Simple stories of ordinary people happened, after which only a trace remained.

BP: Let’s tell our readers a little more about the other two miniatures. I admit that the artworks with the numbers of the prisoners, the cars going on the tracks towards death and the red thread are quite impressive. It’s actually a collage. What does the red thread symbolize? Is it just blood or is it the past connected to the future through blood?

MC: Hmm… I would like everyone to find their own answer to this question.

BP: Comparing “Kissing the Wind” to the other two miniatures the “Kissing the Wind” is basically the calmest, the most reflective and basically very universal. It does not have to be associated only with war and annihilation. Do you that is the true reason why this miniature was chosen by the jury?

MC: Perhaps. It is difficult for me to answer this question. I have not seen other works of other artists. I do not know what kind of criteria the jury has used. The biennial theme was strongly referring to Różewicz’s poetry, whose poetic language is very accessible to the recipient. Realism goes hand in hand with poetry in Różewicz’s works. The speech of silence is also strongly present. The awarded work has realism, it is also a subtle miniature directed towards quite and silence. Maybe the analogy was found in my artwork? It could also have been the universalism that you mentioned.

Miniature Trains Depart From Small Stations
Miniature. The Trains Depart From Small Stations
Miniature Departure Into The Unknown
Miniature. The Departure Into The Unknown
Kissing The Wind Bearte Logo 1200x1080
Winning miniature. The Kissing The Wind.

BP: The painting “Kissing the wind” is a 9 x 10 cm miniature. Could you describe what technique you have used?

MC: While doing this artwork, I used a lot of different media, I used the knowledge I got in the studio of prof.Krystyna Szwajkowska. The “Kissing the wind” miniature is made of very old, primed cardboard, dating back to the student days. I keep different, similar treasures in boxes, and when I need them, I take them. Such old stuff is my little memory of the past.

BP: What is the future for the awarded miniature?

MC: All awarded works become the property of the Art Gallery in Ruse.

BP: When did you hear about the announcement of the results of the Biennale?

MC:  The awards were announced two days after the poet’s birthday and during the annual Różewicz Open Festival in Radomsko. A great surprise and joy for me! City Hall Cultural Division in Radomsko showed their great interest in the above-mentioned biennale. They are very serious about inviting the exhibition to the city of the Różewicz brothers.

Alina, the Sculptor, the student of Xawery Dunikowski,

in a cattle wagon,

opens a window,

leans out and kisses the wind

closes a window mutilated by barbed wire…

The speculation is that this part of Tadeusz Różewicz refers to Alina Szaposznikow, who was sentenced to Auschwitz.

A fragment from the “Professor’s Knife” poem regarding the title „Kissing the Wind” in Beata Piechocka’s translation.

BP: You could not pick up the Grand Prix Prize yourself. As I know Jarosław Godun, Director of the Polish Institute in Sofia, spoke on your behalf. Did you have any problems organizing such a replacement?

MC: It was not a problem. I wrote a letter to the Polish Embassy in Bulgaria, in which I informed them about the problems with receiving the prize personally. The prize, which is important, concerned also the Polish culture. I did not want to leave such a high distinction without receiving it. The next day I received a congratulatory letter from the Polish Institute in Sofia with the information that their representative will collect the award on my behalf. I thank, with all my heart, Jarosław Godun, the director of the Polish Institute in Sofia.

BP: What are your plans for the artistic future?

MC: They can be very different from what I did for Biennale. I may proceed with the last topic “Radomsko ordinary – extraordinary”, and continue to paint nice or less pretty corners of the city where I was born. It may also turn out that I will go on a cruise and fall in love with the sea again, its strength, horizon lines, and I will want to bring back my nice memories on the canvas. I am still asking myself where I am now and where I am going.

It may also happen that during the rainy, cold autumn days I will fire the fireplace, and while being wrapped in a blanket and drinking a hot tea I will pick up Różewicz’s poems and completely different ideas will arouse in my head… I like challenges and getting to know new things.

BP. I wish all of your dreams come true. We look forward to your further successes and great new artworks. Thank you for the interview and on behalf of myself and other BeArte Gallery members, I wish you all the best.

MC. Thank you very much.

See more artworks by Malwina

Goldfinger by Alina Szapocznikow
Alina Szapocznikow "Goldfingers". “Photo made by Goldfinger, 1965 Copyright: the Estate of Alina Szapocznikow/Piotr Stanisławski/ADAGP, Paris. Photograph: Piotr Tomczyk/Courtesy Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź

Alina Szaposznikow (Szapocznikow)

Born in 1926 in Kalisz, Poland.

Died in 1973 in Paris, France.

Polish female sculptor with Jewish origin.  In 1965 she won awards from Copley Foundation for assemblage “Goldfinger”.

Her work was judged by a jury of the most famous artists of the XXth century: Marcel DuchampJean ArpMax Ernst and  Roberto Matta.

Sculpture of  Goldfinger was made of cemented gold-painted car parts.

“The Guardian” about Alina Szapocznikow

Maternity by Xavery Dunkowski
Maternity by Xavery Dunkowski, Nationa Muzeum in Warsaw

Xavery Dunikowski

Born in  1875 in Krakow, Poland.

Died in  1964 in Warsaw, Poland.

Dunikowski was a Polish sculptor, pedagogue, and painter. A descendant of the Polish nobility, professor at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. Most of his occupation time he spent as a prisoner in the Nazi German camp in Auschwitz.

Learn more about Xavery Dunikowski

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About the Author:

I am a co-owner of BeArte Gallery, art marketspace based in Denmark. I have an art education and I paint myself. I am also a part-time paint teacher for artists amateurs. Communing with art and contact with the artists is what moves me in life. Without art, my life would be devoid of emotions, higher meanings. I believe that thanks to Art, each of us has a chance to touch an absolute.

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