A magical realism of Paweł Szadkowski

For thirty years I have been observing attentively the creation of artworks by Paweł Szadkowski – actually since his first exhibition in 1980. His works were an astonishing mixture of metaphorical presentation of the world and perfect workshop advantages. The artist boldly uses the poetics of surrealism; gaining graphical compositions  which are fresh, unique and lyrical. They depict realistically treated and surprisingly  different components e.g. an old locomotive on the blooming meadow from whose chimney a cloud of butterflies is flying out (Travel, colour etching- aquatint 1980), or an archaic Singer sewing machine standing in a field, sewing clouds and being moved by a slipper of an absent person (Unmöglichkeit , colour etching- aquatint, 1984).

The title of this last work accurately shows the artist’s interests of what is impossible in a real world and what, at the same time, leads to new associations. Only in the sleep and in Paweł Szadkowski’s graphics we can see an old windmill which a river and a waterfall are flowing through (Three time dimensions , colour etching- aquatint, 1988). One can experience lyrical and poetical surprise by watching parts of male and female clothes lying on the bed and a butterfly flying away through the window – an expressive symbol of the situation which precedes the butterfly’s take off (Awakening, colour  etching- aquatint, 1980).  Another graphic work which must be mentioned is Christmas (colour etching- aquatint 1979) which depicts flowers, herbs  and butterflies growing and flying out of the opened parcels.

In the graphic works created in the 80th of the last century a human being hardly appears. Exceptionally a secretive woman of an extraordinary beauty, hidden in a tangle of branches symbolizes complexity of sex (Temptation). A series of miniatures which came into being after 2000 demonstrates jokingly treated decorative cherubs (banquet, correspondence, fleeting, sports, sleep-inducing etc).

The artist seems to be fascinated by nature and its influence on a man, a remarkable kind of pathetic nostalgia brought by blurred ,country landscapes (Fences) constituting the background for flowers, insects and birds appearing in the foreground (Thorns, Midge, Two pins). Paweł  Szadkowski skillfully creates a mood of the ambiguous mystery by contrasting realistically presented insects, fish and birds (or their fragments) with the old wooden houses and country furniture (Huba, Twelve drawers, Mountain, Like a bird). On the one hand, the mood of such works as Island or Return is strongly evocative , on the other hand, the mood of Illumination (moths flying out from the drawer of an old chest toward the burning candle) is extremely  dramatic. It is worthwhile underlining that Paweł  Szadkowski creates not only symbolic oneiric compositions, he is also able to evoke the feeling of menace and awe (Evacuation, Mystification).

In his graphic works there exists an exceptional kind  of magical, poetical mood which distinguishes their originality and testifies in favour of not only Paweł  Szadkowski’s sensitivity but fertile and fruitful imagination as well. The mood of his works is also an evidence of author‘s abilities  of describing   the surrounding world, in fact microcosm of people’s thoughts, moods, fears and hopes. The stress should be also put on the author’s craftsmanship, a huge easiness and a precision of a drawing, the composition-carefully thought over, attentiveness of details and well chosen colour of copies which underlines their  emotional sending. It is possible to interpret metaphors applied by Paweł  Szadkowski in many different ways dependent on the sensitivity and life experience of recipients of his art. In my opinion, the greatest, universal advantage of his works is their ambiguity which allows us to feel as co- creators because the artist evocatively makes us understand his metaphors through the prism of his own experience .

Parallel to the graphics, Paweł  Szadkowski has been practising the oil painting for about 10 years. Some of the motives he used in graphic works are reused in the paintings. (Three time dimensions, Awakening, Travel, Impossibility). The new element, which only occasionally turned up in graphics, is a human being. The topic of emotionally treated Sleeping (2004) attracts our attention due to a figure of a centrally located woman, her overcoat resembling the chessboard of plots in the mountains and the image of saints from a picture hanging over the woman- they might know the contents of her dreams .

Some pictures have a sacred character, though distant from the traditionally presented images of saints which one can see in churches. To this group  we may include : Woman with lily, Expectation, Beneficial Inflexibility, Quest, Stand by me and Madonnas – of Morsko and Harklowa. On the opposite pole one should put demonic Joanna in aggressive red colours and full of expression Rock and Feathery sunset.

Very important elements, which draw the spectators’ attention, are decorative, carved frames of paintings. They are created with talent and passion of a gifted wood-carver in beech wood, then coated with monochrome old gold. In some pictures the painting matter is undergoing far–reaching reduction because Paweł  Szadkowski finds an artistic fulfillment as the sculptor carrying the family tradition on. Motives, which he curves in wood, are already known from the graphics:  birds, fish, lizards, plants, grotesque  imaginary animals. Combining the painting and sculpturing gives a new quality and lets the artist strengthen the expression of his works of art. The central part of  a triptych Undeniable purity of intention, similarly  to works The Bermudan Triangle and Stag, are low relief.

Paweł  Szadkowski might be expressing himself by creating graphics, paintings or sculpture. Nevertheless, he remains the artist sensitive to essential, existential problems of a man.  He also metaphorically presents universal, human emotions and moods appealing to our subconscious associations. The artist does all the above with great talent and poetic sensitivity as well as with exquisite  craftsmanship of a graphic artist, painter and a sculptor. Thus he proves to be both a mature and a versatile artist.

Grzegorz  Matuszak

translation: Magdalena Bednarek