Władysław Winiecki was born Novem­ber 4, 1941 in Kutno, to Stanisław and Helena, née Lubańska. He started his edu­ca­tion at a pri­mary school in Kutno, where he then went to Hen­ryk Dąbrowski sec­ondary school and obtained his A-​level cer­tifi­cate in 1960. Undoubt­edly, his stud­ies at the Acad­emy of Fine Arts in War­saw at the Fac­ulty of Paint­ing in the ate­lier of Pro­fes­sor Nacht-​Samborski proved a cru­cial expe­ri­ence, one that shaped his approach to visual phe­nom­ena. These influ­ences are still vis­i­ble in his work and ped­a­gog­i­cal practice.

In 1966 he grad­u­ated with hon­ors. He took part in six exhi­bi­tions, includ­ing a show in Zachęta and The War­saw Graphic Artists’ Exhi­bi­tion in Stock­holm. He also became a mem­ber of The Asso­ci­a­tion of Pol­ish Artists and Design­ers. In 1969 Winiecki received a prize and a one-​year schol­ar­ship at the Sec­ond Exhi­bi­tion of Young Graphic Art (Poz­nań, WBA) and the Gold Medal (The Ital­ian Republic’s For­eign Min­is­ter Prize) at The First Inter­na­tional Bien­nale of Con­tem­po­rary Paint­ing in Pistoia.

In years 1967 – 1981 he was the lau­re­ate of 52 prizes and dis­tinc­tions in the War­saw com­pe­ti­tion for the best engrav­ing of the month. In 1972 he won the sil­ver medal for a col­lec­tion of works at the Fourth Fine Arts Fes­ti­val in Zachęta, War­saw, and in 1973 at the exhi­bi­tion of the works that won the prizes in the com­pe­ti­tion “The Best Engrav­ing of the Year,” Łódź, BWA, he won the spe­cial prize of the Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and Art.

In 1977 he started teach­ing at the Acad­emy of Fine Arts in War­saw, at the Fac­ulty of Graphic Arts – he began work­ing as a lec­turer in the draw­ing ate­lier. That same year he won the Spe­cial Prize at First Art Encoun­ters in Madrid and in the national com­pe­ti­tion for the best engrav­ing in Łódź he was pre­sented the Spe­cial BWA Prize. In 1978 he became the lau­re­ate of the Grand Prix of The Sev­enth Inter­na­tional Print Bien­nale, Kraków BWA (for the work enti­tled “Film Frame II”). Pro­fes­sor Ryszard Otręba char­ac­ter­izes this lith­o­graph the fol­low­ing way: “I was struck by the work’s spare lan­guage, sim­plic­ity and the ease with which the artist delves into realms rarely explored by graphic artists. The print series enti­tled ‘Frames’ shows a world of enslaved, name­less peo­ple, forced into unin­tel­li­gi­ble frames of their time. Those teem­ing masses of peo­ple are what we see when we furtively observe the enslaved world. Winiecki passes a harsh judg­ment on peo­ple. He asks what we are really like.”

His works are part of the fol­low­ing collections:

National Museum, War­saw, Kra­cow, Szczecin; Muzeum w Toruniu; Leon Wyczółkowski Museum, Byd­goszcz; Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź; The National Library in Paris; The Museum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Tokyo.

Here is an artis­tic credo Pro­fes­sor Winiecki ten­ta­tively for­mu­lated: “As an artist as well as a mem­ber of the art audi­ence I would like to express my long­ing for dia­logue that could help search for pro­found life val­ues and processes that could broaden my artis­tic and intel­lec­tual awareness.’”

My mem­o­ries of Pro­fes­sor? It is easy to tell any story, pep­per­ing it with some facts and dates. It is much more dif­fi­cult to describe somebody’s life not los­ing its proper con­tent, every­thing that is squeezed between “he was born” and “he died.” Per­haps we could metic­u­lously recon­struct the sequence of events – the years in which Pro­fes­sor Winiecki was awarded this or that prize or had such and such exhi­bi­tion. And in 2004 he bought his first mobile phone. Even such a detailed descrip­tion does not ren­der his true personality.

Pro­fes­sor men­tally belonged to an era that did not acknowl­edge the exis­tence of free mar­ket econ­omy. Obvi­ously, it was also a world of dif­fi­cult con­trasts, not entirely black and white, full of nuances and com­plex deci­sions; some­how how­ever, it was a time when things man­i­fested them­selves more as they were – before adver­tis­ing and PR spe­cial­ists started tam­per­ing with them. With his heart and his soul Pro­fes­sor belonged to the era where “yes” meant “yes” and no meant “no,” where one and one made two, and where nobody offered you dis­counts that turned out to be oblig­a­tory instead of optional.

Władysław Winiecki was ret­i­cent and did not talk about him­self much. “I don’t like mak­ing fuss,” he would say, with a sneer or an ironic smile. He was sen­si­tive to form and detested excess. In today’s world where floor pan­els are called har­mo­niously beau­ti­ful, words inevitably lose their mean­ing. Winiecki enjoyed play­ing with words, some­times pur­pose­fully mul­ti­ply­ing metaphors to reach the essence in a round­about way, ruth­lessly mock­ing all absurd and lofti­ness. It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine him with­out the ever-​present expres­sion of self-​irony on his face as if he wanted to show the dis­tance towards him­self and to the whole world.

He was a recluse and went his own way. Some­how his char­ac­ter makes one think of the mys­te­ri­ous Cheshire Cat – he would appear and van­ish again, and was one of the few artists who could stretch and cross the bor­der between dream­ing and wake­ful­ness, the vis­i­ble and the invis­i­ble. In a mad pro­ces­sion of quo­tid­ian errands not every­one can afford to dream. Winiecki dreamed often and intensely: “the grin […] remained some time after the rest of [him] had gone.” He left sud­denly with­out check­ing out (as he would always do before leav­ing his lith­o­g­ra­phy ate­lier) – he just dis­ap­peared with­out telling any­thing to anyone.

He passed away on August 25, 2008, at 7.10 a.m., in a nurs­ing home in Łomi­anki. He is buried in the Kraszewski fam­ily grave in Zakopane.