Marian Siwek

Marian Siwek (1936 – 17 May 2007) spent his youth in his beloved Cracow. He graduated from the High School of Fine Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts, where he graduated from the Faculty of Painting. At the beginning of the 70’s, Marian Siwek’s studio in Cracow burned down and fire consumed almost all of the painter’s accomplishments. An outsider artist, disagreeing with the prevailing political system, so his work did not reach the state institutions. Vernissages and meetings for friends were organized in his home. In the audience’s consciousness it was only in the early 90’s, when he was discovered and appreciated by connoisseurs of art.

In 2000 he became ill with Alzheimer disease, but he created new works in spite of illness. His recent works have served as research material for Jerzy Vetulani. Marian Siwek is the author of portraits of George Panek, Ida Haendel, Tadeusz Kantor or Jon Stahl. He produced the world’s only drafted document, The Strangers (1981/1982), illustrating the miners’ massacre at the Wujek mine (1981). Important cycles of the drawings are: Bloody Spring in December (1971), Television Sketches (1980/1981), Panic Theater (1980s), Going Through the Streets of Cracow (1990s to 2005), Death of Karolina (1998–2000), Dziwolągi The Family (1970–2003), Maria Magdalena (1998). His drawings deal with social and political issues.

He liked western movies, frequent visits in Zwis and gourmet of porter. He could sit with his favorite beer for hours and listen to the people in Zwis, which is rare, because people usually come there rather to talk. Dad was screaming in his works drawing lines with a gull or goose pen. He watched life in his own way and made notes in notebooks, which he carried with him, packed in his pockets.

Marian Siwek drew reality as it is. It is a greedy record of everyday life. From comics elements he went to paintings and back. He drew and painted mainly the rejected ones, which we would be rejected even today. He did not hide, he did not embellish, he could bring out humanity even where we pinch our noses and where the triviality of existence makes nausea.

In the last years of his life dad had trouble walking, Alzheimer’s disease ruined his health. But as far as he was able to do so, he drunk his favorite porter and stayed with his cheerful colleagues. All thanks to my mother, who helped him to move. He struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for ten years.

The art was Dad’s passion. He did not create for prizes, compliments, trends. He built his own area of freedom and independence and stayed there. Dad’s works are incredibly modern, today the art has gained even more importance.

The power of expression of these notes from the land of the absurd, increasingly distant on the map of the history of archipelago of quirks and debauchery, is still absorbing. Just as absorbing is the figure of an artist locked up in the four walls of his studio, sentenced to the non-homeland by the administrators of Polish People’s Republic. Lonely, isolated in the drawings, He exposed emotions, even shouted comments on the world that has marginalized him. He chose the inner emigration, but he found a free world in the environment of art, so far away from the land of lies… and consistently, day by day, month by month, year by year, he drew…


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