Polish Book Illustration and Digital Art Exhibition.
From Classics to Contemporary Artists: Retrospective Overview.
The exhibition presents a selection of most interesting illustrations created by Polish artists from 1920s until now.
The goal of this project us to present the phenomenon of Polish illustration, starting with Jan Maria Szancer, its most respected doyen, who began his career in 1920s, and finishing with contemporary artists creating virtual worlds of the latest videogames.
The most important artists are presented chronologically in a 3D walk, which shows their biographies and the style of their work. The walk includes illustrations by the most renowned classics: Themerson, Grabiański, Butenko; as well as the latest “hot” names: Ignerska, Szymanowicz, Gawrońska. Apart from the walk we present a virtual exhibition of six artists selected by us. Three of them: Katarzyna Bajerowicz, Marta Ignerska, and Maciej Szymanowicz consider themselves primarily book illustrators, who work with traditional techniques, sometimes using computer graphics in post-processing. The three remaining artists: Bogna Gawrońska, Jakub Cichecki and Jakub Różalski are digital artists. However, regardless of the technique they use in the art, each of them has their own unique and original style. The multitude of said styles is a testament to the richness and complexity of Polish illustration art, which is at the same time deeply rooted in modern times, and draws significant inspiration from tradition – both in its style and imagery.
The Polish School of illustration flourished in 1950s, as a result of total nationalization of publishing industry in 1949. Despite the difficulties related to the limiting of freedom of printed word in the Polish People’s Republic, books were printed in huge numbers and both the artistic and literary values were hight – especially in the field of illustrated children’s books. “Nasza Księgarnia” publishing house continued their cooperation with pre-war graphic artists, such as Jan Marcin Szancer, and was also starting to work with upcoming young (at that time) artists, such as Bogdan Butenko and Roman Owidzki.
The term “Polish School of Illustration” emerged in 1960s. Its phenomenon was a combination of painterly qualities and solutions used most often in poster art, that is the simplicity of form, metaphorical message, and the use of large areas of colour. Polish School of Illustration stood out from other international publishing markets due to the freedom if artistic impression, humour, multitude of forms and colours, as well as the individualism of its artists.
At the end of 1980s and during 1990s, Polish illustration went through a period of crisis caused by fascination with everything, which before 1989 was not available – the iconography of the so-called West. The market was flooded with Disney-like works. The readers, for several years, turned their back to the local, artistic illustration.
Over the last few years, we have seen a return of the Golden Era of Polish illustration – there appeared new outstanding artists, who make us of the tradition and do not hide their fascination with masters from several decades ago, but they also form their own, strong styles. Polish creators are also very successful in the computer games market, which in turn increases the number of artists specializing in digital art, whose works often fall into the fantasy genre.
As we can clearly see that the world of Polish illustration is constantly developing. Beautiful images are available for readers of books and newspapers, but also to the fans of multimedia world.
This exhibition presents a small section of a very wide and interesting spectrum of Polish illustration.