Jadwiga was and still is not only a person very close to me, but at the same time somebody extremely interesting and therefore worthy to get acquainted with. She, an artist through and through, convinced of her own views, which are often based on emotions, moods, intuitions. I am, on the other hand, a consistent rationalist: we often had different opinions, also in terms of art. But now it’s all only about her and her personal relationship to her own graphics. Her way of thinking and approach to art was very familiar to me. And finding that again in her graphics has become something like my own research.
Jadwiga was reluctant to comment on the meaning of her individual graphics. She felt that the viewers should see for themselves what the artist wanted to tell. Although the titles of her work, as well as the rich symbolism helped with the interpretations, her later art works became increasingly illegible, at least for me. One of the causes was certainly the approximately 1000 kilometers that separated us and made more frequent contacts difficult. However, what I have learned from her and her husband Stanislas allowed me to explore her works more diversified, more deeply than anyone else would have been able to. And I would like to discuss these insights in more detail below.
In 1969 Jadwiga interrupted her studies because she had to undergo intensive therapy. Understandably, she then created her diploma woodcut and the graphics of the next two years under the influence of the formative experiences that she and her fellow sufferers had to live through. The themes of these works were suffering, the cooing of doves that could be heard through the open window, when you are tied to the bed yourself, or the thoughts about life and death. Increasingly, social issues, the pollution of the air, the poisoning of the North Sea, the dehumanization of sport, the suffering of women or the blind fascination of technology that destroyed nature (“Apocalypse of the 20th century”) were added.
From the year 1977 onwards she created all the graphics as wood engravings, except for a few linocuts for the opera in Adelaide. She handled this exceptionally difficult and laborious technique from the beginning masterly, and often made astonishingly large formats. Several times I heard praise from other graphic designers who allegedly gave up this technique quickly after their first attempts at much smaller formats. At that time she also introduced a new theme into her works, a kind of psychologized character study of certain personalities, of course from her own point of view. The themes elaborated by Jadwiga are in themselves interesting. In addition her way of dealing with them is very personal, since the emotional life of the artist is also reflected in the creation of the works. So it is, in my view, worthwhile to deal with them in detail, to understand them, perhaps even to experience them.
I start by comparing two wood engravings, which give a happy impression, a rather rare emotion among Jadwiga’s graphics.