Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Saints and robbers – painting on a glass

Dance at the bonfire by Jan Gąsienica-Szostak, 1922 [1]
Few days ago a picture Dance at the bonfire by Jan Gąsienica-Szostak attracted my attention. What has intrigued me is the secretiveness of the two mountaineers figures dancing around the fire. The hidden faces make them anonymus, we just feel the energy coming from their dance.  The colourful fire seems to be very lively too. It fascinates me. I also like the gentleness of the sky and grass. The picture is an example of regional art popular in Podhale - paintings on a glass.

Few words about it...
Nowadays Zakopane and surroundings are considered to be the center of the glass painting. You can find here many artists more or less inspired by a traditional art, recalling traditional motives and technics or searching their own solutions. But the first paintings made by anonymous authors from 18th and beginning of 19th century came from Slovakia, Moravia, Czech lands and Silesia. They originated nearby glass factories. Polish mountaineers used to buy them from wandering glaziers. In the 2nd half of 19th century they were replaced by the cheaper chromolithographs

Before the World War I and right after it the glass painting became the subject of researches in Poland. Some artist fascinated by this type of art tried to bring it back. The real heyday of a glass painting in Poland came after the World War II and still continues. 

Pietà, 19th  [1]
The first paintings represented scenes from life of Christ and His Mother, saints, angels, religious symbols and miracles from the Catholic Church’s tradition. They had important religious functions – protected house and its inhabitants, saved from illnesses and disasters. The icons were put on a special places – a wooden lath in both white and black room (room for guests and room for everyday life).
 Beside the sacral themes one could find the laic motives. Those were mainly highwaymen. How comes highwaymen next to saints? The Carpathian highwaymen in local tradition were the heroes taking care of justice, helping the poor and robbing the reach ones (like Robin Hood, see the legend about Janosik). That is why their images could be placed next to saints.

What inspired me to write about the painting on a glass?
Temporary exhibition of Ewelina Pęksowa works, posters, The Tatra Museum in Zakopane
Few days ago I visited two exhibitions. One is the permanent exhibition in the main building of the Tatra Museum. It presents works of different artists from various periods. They are a part of etnographic exhibition. The second is a temporary one placed in The Museum of the Zakopane Style - Inspirations. It shows works of the famous glass painter Ewelina Pęksowa. It is really worth seeing.

[1] Source: Złota legenda. Malarstwo na szkle ze zbiorów Muzeum Tatrzańskiego, Muzeum Tatrzańskie im. Dra Tytusa Chałubińskiego, Zakopane 2005

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