The World between Light and Dark
text: Magdalena Boffito

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.