The World between Light and Dark
text: Magdalena Boffito

The World between Light and Dark

Nyx, the daugh­ter of Chaos, a dark-​haired woman, gave birth to numer­ous off­spring, each of them dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers in every respect. Momos, the son of night, took after his mother a com­pli­cated and slightly dark per­son­al­ity, which must have made his rela­tion­ship with oth­ers dif­fi­cult. The god of irony and sar­casm had numer­ous sib­lings. His elder brother Moros became the guardian of fate and des­tiny, Geras took care of the pass­ing time, and the twin broth­ers, Hyp­nos and Thanatos, watched over sleep and death.

Momos did not get any spe­cial power, there was no wor­ship place devoted to him, he was not entrusted with any impor­tant tasks so in the end he became a spec­ta­tor and a com­men­ta­tor of phe­nom­ena and events. He was exces­sively metic­u­lous and focused on details which made him a sym­bol of dis­sat­is­fac­tion and discontent.

Per­haps he spent too much time in the com­pany of his sis­ters: Apate – the god­dess of deceit, and Eris – the god­dess of dis­cord or Hybris, the epit­ome of inso­lence and aro­gance. Cer­tainly, he did not have much in com­mon with Sophrosyne, the patron of tem­per­ance and balance.

An atten­tive observer, Momos must have been the wit­ness of many argu­ments but he did not solve any of them. He was not the best of arbi­tra­tors. The sar­cas­tic god could find faults even in Aphrodite, thought to be the ulti­mate ideal of beauty and per­fec­tion. He was one of the few who dared crit­i­cize Zeus him­self accus­ing him of vio­lence and suc­cumb­ing to lust. It is all the more inter­est­ing that he was the one to be cho­sen as the judge in the con­test for the most per­fect act of cre­ation. Accord­ing to Aesop, the par­tic­i­pants were the fol­low­ing: Prometheus who cre­ated man, Athena who cre­ated home, and Zeus – the cre­ator of the bull. Momos found faults with each of the cre­ations and his judge­ments were not received well. Con­se­quently, the sar­cas­tic god, hav­ing offended the gods numer­ous times, was chased out of Olympus.

It is impor­tant to note that Momos believed that the gravest of Prometheus’ mis­takes was that the lat­ter had not cre­ated a win­dow through which one could see people’s thoughts. Although Momos’ charges were not com­pletely unmo­ti­vated, we do not know whether he was moti­vated by the strife for per­fec­tion or by hid­den envy.

The inter­nal con­flict makes Momos a mul­ti­di­men­sional char­ac­ter. In clas­si­cal art, the son of Night was usu­ally depicted as an old man hold­ing a mask in one hand and a jester’s scep­tre in the other. Some con­sider him the god of slan­der and crit­i­cism, oth­ers believe him to be a mas­ter of irony and humour. Momos, a dethroned god, reminds us about the ambiva­lence of feel­ings and the imper­fec­tion of the world as well as about the right to voice our opin­ion, the right for which one has to pay a high price.

Let us go back to the start­ing point of the story. In the begin­ning, there was eter­nal dark­ness – Ere­bus and dark night – Nyx. From the dual dark­ness, the liai­son of Night and Ere­bus brought into the world the eter­nal light, Aether, and the bright day, Hemera. Night, the daugh­ter of Chaos, gave birth to chil­dren who became both the com­fort and the curse of mankind.

Momos, the son of Night, cease­lessly aims at uncov­er­ing the cur­tain. The god of irony stays half-​way between the sub­lime and the joc­u­lar, plagued by a feel­ing of non-​transparency, he longs to find a form that will not obscure the events’ mean­ing. Momos looks and wan­ders in the dark. Black­ness is full of hid­den mean­ings, one just needs to sum­mon them. Light is deriv­a­tive. “Only that which is invis­i­ble, is truly present.”1

And lith­o­g­ra­phy? Lith­o­g­ra­phy is black­ness, a dark love, a patient wat­ing. One can­not tame the stone. When the stone’s sur­face is too hot, it absorbs more and more paint, caus­ing a defor­ma­tion of form, the dis­ap­pearence of nuances. The shapes torn away from black­ness return to the realm of night – the light goes out.

Władysław Winiecki chose lone­li­ness, he chose lith­o­g­ra­phy with the aware­ness of the con­se­quences of the profession.

The choice of a work tech­nique where the form and the sign are brought to view by uncov­er­ing the light areas of the black matrix was not acci­den­tal either.

It is dif­fi­cult to eas­ily cat­e­go­rize Winiecki’s oeu­vre. It is impos­si­ble to define it using one adjec­tive: intrigu­ing, multi-​layered, ironic, the­atri­cal, unpre­dictable? Spread between two poles, like light and dark. Dark, unset­tling visions, full of finesse and an unaf­fected ele­gance at the same time. In the case of Winiecki, the job of the artist is cre­ation, float­ing on the wave of free inspi­ra­tion, fol­low­ing all kinds of vagaries. Play­ing with form means dis­in­te­gra­tion and rein­te­gra­tion, excesses and provo­ca­tions, vir­tu­os­ity and non­cha­lance, mirac­u­lous encoun­ters and events, as extra­or­di­nary as a “chance meet­ing, on an oper­a­tion table, of an umbrella and a sewing machine.”

Władysław Winiecki grad­u­ated from the paint­ing fac­ulty. Although the begin­nings of his painterly career were promis­ing, he soon aban­doned paint­ing for graph­ics and it was black and white that dom­i­nated the major­ity of his artis­tic effort.

Obvi­ously, it is not true that the artist’s eye stopped respond­ing to colours. Rather, a shift has occurred in his think­ing about art – from a cer­tain point on vision became more impor­tant than colour and it is vision that leads the artist’s hand and sets the rules.