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.