„The marvelous is not the same in every period of history,” Breton wrote. It could be romantic ruins or a modern mannequin. In fact, it is all about creating a game, a provocation, a new vehicle for our emotions. The artist, creating a new being or even just a doppelgänger, assumes the role of a demiurge. Our own body, so imperfect and so little known can be the object of our investigation. This statement is a sort of usurpation, an act of revolt and a declaration of the urge to know.
Winiecki deconstructs the body and his anatomy lesson develops in a very peculiar manner. One can sense both fascination and terror. The artist uncovers for us strange mutated growths, tangled muscles, knots, lumps, a complex tissue – and he does it as if he was performing an open heart surgery. The body consists of organs that seem to lead their own lives. What is more, the matter that makes up the organs also has a life of its own. The body keeps throbbing but at the same time it is constantly limited.
Winiecki shows characters trapped, hindered, caught in all sorts of clogs, tongs, as if petrified in their silent suffering. The omnipresent pain is immanent, it does not come from the outside but is an indispensable component of existence. On the one hand, we have wonderful products of nature’s fantastic fermentation; on the other – suffering. We suffer, therefore we are, Winiecki seems to be saying.
“The body can be compared to a sentence that demands to be taken apart so that one can, through an infinite number of anagrams, discover its real meanings.”11 “Murder is not a sin. Sometimes it is a necessary violence against stubborn and petrified forms of being that stopped being fascinating. Committed in the interest of an interesting and significant experiment it can even become a merit. Here is the starting point for a new apology of sadism.”12
Winiecki is undoubtedly fascinated by the infinity of combinations and configurations in which the body uncovers its secrets – assembling, taking apart, covering, uncovering. Sometimes one is struck by the frenzy and the hidden cruelty. The motif appears half-jokingly in “Portrait of Cannibal” and “Skinning.”
Winiecki returns to this motif in “Methuselah” (1972). It is difficult to determine whether the name refers to the biblical figure or to the oldest tree on earth (of the same name). The form of the work may suggest that the reference is made both to the Old Testament character and to the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine that grows in the White Mountains of California. In a world where everything is permitted and words stop carrying meaning, one can only resort to acts of the will or try to get closer to “a perception that broadens the horizons.”13
In his works Winiecki ask questions that have been posed for ages – he is looking for the meaning of human life and suffering. The artist returns to the subject of biologism, sin and carnality in the cycle entitled “Film Frame.”
Winiecki presents a vista of universal cataclism referring to the Last Judgement. In this crowd of bodies, a tangle of arms and feet, everyone is anonymous. Thus, we have a strong, evocative vision of human suffering, the picture showing people writhing in paralytical spasms of pain. In this depiction of the hord of bodies there are no divisions – there is no left, right, up or down – there is nothing but chaos. Thus, there is neither a reward nor a punishment, as if the division into good and evil had been suspended. There is no division into the sacred and the prophane either.
Winiecki recreates the traces of perforation on the engraving to stress the fact that the picture’s source is the photographic plate, that it has been registered automatically. God is absent.
“We come from a cramped darkroom. Humankind carries the cramped darkroom inside; thanks to it we multiply, we dream about it, we paint it. People have been always going into dark grottos to watch, in the torch light, the moving pictures unwittingly emerging from the calcareous walls. Millenia have passed. Now pictures emerge from screens in weird rooms, built in city undergrounds, where the darkness does not come from the gods but has been created artificially.”14
It is interesting that – even though carnality is so strongly stressed – there is not much nudity in Winiecki’s works and biologism is shown filtered by culture. Eroticism is treated with utmost finesse.