Forment rapped – form set free
Winiecki’s world is that of constant metaphorses, a world full of shapes unknown to our quotidian experience. In the space created by the artist, there is a place for a sphinx-like dachshund, a gigantic horse, a Fern-Eater built of thallodal matter as well as a Music Lover with a cat’s appearance. It is a world impossible to be defined, one that defies ordinary perception. Nothing is entirely what is seems to be.
Certainly, one cannot interpret this oeuvre without referring to the category of the marvelous, one of the most important categories of surrealism. What is it like then, this land of fantasy, “the trysting place of opportunities?”2
An important feature of this world is transgression. Rarely does the artist contemplate just one object and even if he does so, the object appears before our eyes in all of its complexity and multi-layerdness. The forms remain oblique, arrested in the process of metamorphosing, never reaching an ultimate crystallization. As if Winiecki aimed at catching things in the act of becoming. On the one hand, we have the precision of detail, the alchemy of graphic matter, on the other – the shapes that blur and merge. Traditional points of reference, perspective, scale, become unbalanced. Matter is never dead, it moves incessantly and undergoes constant metamorhoses. All forms enter certain configurations and interact, one form leads to another; they elude unambiguous definitions and lead as astray – what at first glance we take to be familiar and obvious, at a closer look proves ambiguous.
“Matter has been given infinite fertility, inexhaustible life capability as well as a misleading power of temptation that talks us into producing forms. Deep in the matter vague smiles are shaped, tensions spring, the attempts at shapes are getting denser. The whole of matter wavers with the infininity of possibilities that flow through it, shivering lightly. Waiting for the invigorating breath of the spirit, the matter floats abundantly and tempts with thousands of sweet curves and softnesses it emanates from itself in its blind fantasies.”3
In Winiecki’s work the line between the animate and the inanimate, the human and the animal, is blurred. Everything undergoes constant transformations – what constitutes a part of a given form, can suddenly be incorporated into a different one. Human body is plagued by slow decomposition and deformation, and the forms of the world show signs of life by taking part in the process of endless transformation. Therefore, Winiecki’s works are full of hybrid creatures that are proof of events’ discontinuity. If there were no exceptions and anomalies, the world would be flat. Metamorphosis is a sign of openness, an act of acceptance of change. Winiecki discovers forms that could exist but nature, for whatever reasons, has not brought them into being.
Dances, secrets and fantasies. They constitute the canvas against which events are built. In this world time and space stretch, reference points change with incredible speed, and norms are suspended. Unexpected events, interferences, coincidences, the marvelous, fear, terror.
Winiecki, indifferent to external reality, explored the sphere of dreams and myths, looked for extraordinary situations that make one transcend one’s ascribed roles. Crossing the borders happens not only in the spiritual sphere but also in the physical one. Thus, Winiecki’s world, suspended between oblivion and loss, is marked by constant transgression. On the one hand, we have the characters of Cannibal, Nishakku, Ishtar (Anna Mother In), the figures connected to Eros and Thanatos, and on the other – the dream-like visions illumined by moonlight, landsapes with an ellusive horizon, built of a delicate matter not subject to the laws of physics and the linear time. In this world, a sort of kingdom of Figures, there are monarchs hungry for power, vindictive gods and warriors as well as promiscuous women, musicians, rioters, rebels and outsiders.
“I dreamed crusades, unimagined journeys of discovery, invisible republics, failed religious wars, moral revolutions, racial and continental drift: I believed in every enchantment”4
“Is the dream any less restrictive or punitive than the rest?,” asks Breton rhetorically in the Surrealist Manifesto and, criticizing excessive trust in the power of rationality, adds: “Not only does the mind display, in this state, a strange tendency to lose its bearings (as evidenced by the slips and mistakes the secrets of which are just beginning to be revealed to us), but, what is more, it does not appear that, when the mind is functioning normally, it really responds to anything but the suggestions which come to it from the depths of the dark night to which I commend it.”5 Surrealists posed the question of the criteria for truth in cognition, and Breton, ironically called the Pope of surrealism, called for an abolition of the sharp division between dreaming and wakefulness. His attitude was radically antimimetic: “to make the magic power of figuration with which certain people are endowed serve the purpose of preserving and reinforcing what would exist without them anyway, is to make wretched use of that power. In fact it constitutes an inexcusable abdication.”6
Winiecki naturally adopts the assumptions of surrealism. Like his predecessors, he believes in the power of dreams, in the unbridled imagination and the deregulation of the senses. He makes use of chance or the so called ”magic of circumstances” (the results of a fresh approach to a well-known object). His poetics has characteristics usually associated with dreaming: the discontinuity of events, unlimited possiblities of transformation, smooth identity changes.
Sometimes Winiecki refers to dreams directly in the title: “Dream Book – a Wasp Bite,” “Dream – Escape through Hornbeams.” At other times, the reference is formal – the perspective is oneiric, the work set in lunar time (e.g. “Our House,” “Leaf,” “Wiktoryna”).
The early works of Winiecki are dominated by the alchemy of matter; the line coexists with the ever more dense structure but very often it is subordinate to the latter. The engravings are full of contast; usually there are no subtle tonal transitions or chiaroscuro, characteristic of the later works of the artist. Winiecki starts with matter and a casual pen and ink drawing, enriched by nervous signs similar to calligraphy. No matter how complicated the drawing is, the artist can easily experiment and change from positive to negative drawing thanks to the structure of his compositions based on patches and lines. Often he would prepare two variants of one matrix and therefore some of his works have their negative counterparts (“Wave,” “Beater,” “Regent”).
His approach to signs changes in subsequent periods, the line aims at autonomy, the style gains virtuosity and becomes inimitable.
The most interesting works from Winiecki’s early periods have simple structure. They refer to Greek vase painting, in form and colour – masterfully drawn lines tearing apart the patches of black (”Warrior”) – as well as in theme and composition. We have a sort of horizontal frieze entitled “Dance” from 1966 or the work called “Beater” printed, in one of its versions, using two matrixes – a black one and an ochre one, the latter resembling burned clay.
As far as theme is concerned, Winiecki aims at depicting a situation, building a story and uncovering a figure that he gradually specifies by differentiating the matter.
There are several lithographs very unusual in this respect – in them, the figure/object has become pure form, without any mimetic element. Good examples are: “Regent,” “Wave,” “Composition.” They are outstanding instances of Winiecki’s style. They are devoid of material ornament as if their author wanted to speak with an open text, doing without the subtle, shiny and eye-beguiling fabric of decoration and to simply show the simple scaffolding underneath.
In the works created after 1968 Winiecki strongly emphasizes the figurative and mimetic elements; the structure of his engravings becomes denser, there appear tonal nuances, penumbras, half-lights and rich details. Next to the oneiric strain (moonscapes like “Leaf” 1970, “Wiktoryna” 1975, “Anna K” 1975, “Ring” 1976, “Our House” 1981) and group scenes referring to the motif of dance-struggle and a sort of danse macabre (“Dance in a Tent” 1977, “Dance 9” 1977, “Crusade” 1969), there appear strong and evocative, figurative depictions that work through contours and silhouette. Some of them make up a cycle entitled “Ambassadors’ Secrets.” Interestingly, there is a clear division in all of Winiecki’s works – groups of figures are always vertical, whereas landscapes and other depictions – usually horizontal.