Interview with Jerzy Kędziora, Sculptor | Galeria Rzezby - O Artyscie

Conducted by © Rocío Heredia

::: Jêrzy Kedziora,, Galeria Rzezby - strona glówna (Polski):::

Please tell us something about yourself, where did you grew up and what did you dream of becoming as a child?
I lived in the suburbs of Częstochowa. My father work for the electrification of the post-war country, my mother dealt with minor production and sales. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in processions visited the city, the spiritual capital of Poland known for the wonderful painting of The Black Madonna. While my parents were still building their house, I lived in the Salesian parish, where cultural and sport education of young people were especially emphasized. The priests organized sport competitions and theatrical performances, in which I participated with big engagement. Perhaps that's why as a child I wanted to be a theatre man, an architect or, in the worst instance, a priest (my mother dreamed of me becoming a bishop).

When did you discover your talent and decided to become a full-time artist?
I didn't dream about being an artist. For me an artist had to walk above ground. I was more down to earth, practical, but since I was a child I knew I had artistic talent. My environment - colleagues, family, teachers assured me of that. I liked to draw and especially design. When I was five-six my first design works were introduced to production. My mother knitted woolen clothes and I designed patterns of arabesques, shapes of stars, mushrooms, Christmas trees and dwarves on paper. Later, in my primary school I had a few more examples of vocational plastics, decorations and theatrical requisites, patterns of napkins and tapestries to embroid. Love for art was born in me early, and has stayed there to these days. I consequently headed towards my aim of becoming a certificated artist, first studying in the Secondary School of Fine Arts, later in the Academy of Fine Arts.

Would you give us your personal definition of Art?
Not necessarily. I don't feel like a theoretic of art. I don't create artistic doctrines. But I know what is creating, what should be a piece of art. For me the most impressive thing is virtuosity of workshop, which allows to create deeper ideas, interesting visions, original forms. Also creative gesture, artistic joke, uniqueness, mystery, not defined aura, so called second bottom are important arguments of a piece of art. I need something worth admiring, watching, something intriguing, unachievable, touching.

What is your formal training? How did you acquire your knowledge and skills as an artist?
My training was classical in the beginning, due to the academic formula of acquiring workshop abilities and cooperation with tremendous professionals. Then for more than 30 years my formal self-training has been based on testing original solutions, plastic, often strange in technique. Achieving solutions in a practical and intuitive way, to create balancing forms. I concentrate on balancing sculptures analytically and systematically, trying how to make a fusion of scale, attention and light, because I have already planned the aim, that is the artistic effect.

You work several techniques such as sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics, theatrical scenography, etc., I'm tempted to ask which one satisfies most your inner self and why?
I think I am a so called plastic of many abilities and predispositions. I have taken challenges in, among the others, architecture, graphic, design, scenography. Usually more important than the domain, was the way of expressing myself, my creative possibilities, or the conditions and aims of creating the designs. But sculpture was the means which mostly absorbed my will of creating and my time. Because of sculpture I take new challenges. After all, I am a professional sculptor.

What was your first sculpture? I'm curious...Do you have a picture of that first work?
The first conscious sculptures I remember making were a maternity and a hockey goalkeeper sculptures in great hoardings, made during secondary school. I don't think they exist anymore, but perhaps I still have photos made in the making of these works, which I used some day to pass the admission exams to the Academy.

Were there any artists or mentors whom in particular influenced you in your career?
Yes, I think, but not directly or permanently. And they didn't influence my career or creation, but rather my idea of plastics and workshop. For sure they did make my imagination work, and me think, admire, and often refuse and envy, in a inspiring way, or take artistic challenges. The first ones were my teachers in the secondary school, and maybe even earlier, the patron of the altar-boys at the Salesians. Outstanding sculptors, The professors of the Academy were outstanding sculptors and they certainly had influence on me. I admire the work of a few of them.

What influences your art? Are you inspired by particular places or spaces?
I obviously have to take into consideration place and space when they are the context of the realized design. On the other hand there are some idea-places on Earth I would like to fulfill with my works or arrange them originally, for example cities crossed by a plastic grid of sewers, places carrying a mark of legends, and prophet sculptures in them - sculptures who would become marks. At the same time there are places which affect my consciousness and my sensitivity so deeply that they are for many reasons - landscape, cultural, social and even political - a source of creative inspiration.

Where do you find the muse inspiring your work?
Referring to the above question, I think that the sources of inspiration are places, but in various contexts. It comes also from events, people, social time, philosophy, existence definitely. My imagination is usually inspired by what steps out of the borders of the impossible, what penetrates the regions under and over consciousness, what steps out of the conditions of reality with its meaning, like fairy tales, legends, or forms defeating the laws of physics (vide balancing). My muses are my family and people who fascinate me, not always in the common meaning of the aesthetic inspiration. I let myself be seduced, but more for life than art.

Which movements have influenced you?
What mostly inspires my creativity are the prehistory, fairy tales, legends, shamanism and intuitionism.

Are there any contemporary or classical artists that you particularly admire?
Certainly. Miro, Klimt, Bacon, Calder, Canogar but also Rosso, Marini, something of Manzu, Haidu but also Hudon or the great classics because of their perfection of form and workshop.

As I see your artworks, I feel your perspective is extraordinary. This scene seems to get the viewer into the sculpture. How did you develop your unique style to the status where it is at now?
In my instance this question can be understood in many ways. The answer could be a lecture. I often provoke the watcher to actively participate in dealing with my creations, create situations and expressions of common living. I think you are more interested in that certain dose of "enchantment, hypnosis" (to quote others) alike to the feeling that accompanies us when we look into vivid fire or water in movement. The space arrangements of my sculpture are a kind of environment. Referring to this I want to get the unbelieving, surprised viewer into the balance of my sculptures, harmonized with the natural rhythm of this environment. I try to reveal the camouflage without revealing. Unable to go away before solving the riddle, the visitor is taken inside the works, becomes an active participant of the performance. He watches the sculptures suspended in different planes, usually above ground, from frog's perspective.

Please tell us about your sculpting technique. What are the materials that you prefer to handle?
This is also a complicated problem but, in brief, I work in a couple of phases using different materials and techniques - modeling in clay, preparing plaster, sylicon or combined forms, moulding, retouching and engraving, patinating. I also use stone, wood, bronze, ceramics, metal, syntethic materials, but also elements of water, fire, sunrays. The choice of material and technique depends on the idea of the work and the conditions of making it.

Which qualities determine your choice of materials for intermediate forms and tools and the final result?
I don't put it like that, the form does not determine my making but rather the idea. For the idea I search the material and the way of working with it. If I don't know the parameters of the material, or the technology well enough, I use sophisticated methods worked out by somebody then I find my own way. Having incomplete knowledge and experimenting I find a chance of being fresh, accidental, bending the technique to fit my expectations, sometimes for acting widely. I provoke myself, the material and the technique to discover something new, experience an adventure of creating, each time, again and again.

Do you make the construction yourself? How often? Why?
I think it isn't anything deteriorating the object, for example in moulds. A sculptor often has to use the help of a craftsman. I have used this form of realization rarely, unless I had orders for medals or occasional statues. In some group balancing sculptures I used a certain type of multiplication, for example when I was creating the illustration about the four brothers. The four figures of boys were realized in reference to one body-model, on which the attributes, details, kind of manufacturing and setting were being changed.

I fear that there may be health risks related to your work, how do you handle that?
Yes, a certain amount of risk is involved. The fever to work doesn't always come along with common sense. The materials and chemicals I use in my workshop aren't good for health. I try to minimize these risks, at least stick to the basic rules of safety and hygiene of work, but I'm not a good example to follow. I continuously promise myself to improve the health issue.

What challenges have you found in your work?
Various. Often strongly opposite. I humanized places of work. Entertained people. I fought with Communism and advertised the ideas of this "best of systems". I animated artistic events. I solved competition problems. I created works to commemorate, for patriotic reasons, pieces to "release me" from the "suffering of creation" and works to raise aesthetic sensations of the masses ... I saved, restored and conserved old buildings. I taught adults and youngsters. These are just some of the paths I have wandered along in the crooked way of my artistic and professional life.

Which is your favorite sculpture and why?
From the perspective of thirty years of creating it is probably the series of balancing sculptures. It entertains me, surprises, annoys me, but it also leads me to deeper waters and puts me into the light of reflectors, so far that I become vain. So am I an artist? Perhaps I am. A couple of times I was satisfied of my works, the nature of the satisfaction was mainly emotional. It was caused rather by the contexts of creating the works, than by artistic self-rating. I have an impression that my "beloved child of art" hasn't been born yet. Although the balancing ones fascinate the critics.

Will you tell us about the recognition and Awards you have achieved in your career?
It is a kind of satisfaction. It even used to be a significant part of my income, but generally it's just like the dust you make when you chop wood solidly, endurably, with God's spark. Medals have their dark sides. They give you more envious people and even enemies. They make the next employers feel unsure when negotiating the prices.

What are the most meaningful events in your career that you look back at with satisfaction and pride?
I don't know if they were happenings. Perhaps rather ideas, being born or already stroking deeper roots. Fortunately the solved problems sometimes carry me on the waves of satisfaction and pleasure. I don't think I have much pride in me. Life surprised me positively, the career came without asking. I have come think about myself as an artist because I am seen in this way and probably there is no turning back. I'll have to think about it, verify and re-rate some opinions.
Probably I was proud once or twice when I received some serious reward and heard many compliments but the pride was always accompanied by a feeling of embarrassment. Finally the personality of an artist with achievements conflicts with the attributes of a humble man unbelieving his luck.

What role does the public play in your creative endeavor? What do you expect people can learn and feel when they see your artworks?
I am pleased with the positive reaction as well as the critical opinions. I appreciate them very much and take them into consideration. I ignore critics without artistic, aesthetic arguments. A disinterested receiver is usually satisfied, even delighted, as he enters the world of form, idea, feelings that this world gives him and answers not only artistic but also existential problems.

What aspiration as an artist is most important to you?
I have a couple of artistic dreams, their realization being connected with The spectacular placing of a couple of my sculptures in some important places in the World. But, for now, I stick to the freedom of statement and I want to live properly without "suffering for millions".

What are your immediate plans for your future? On what are you currently working at?
Next year I am going to represent Poland in an official presentation of our country's culture in France and show myself individually in a smaller set of works in Washington DC. I am preparing for these exhibits. Recently I have finished a sculpture of The Resurrected Christ for the new town graveyard in Częstochowa. Maybe just after that I will begin making a balancing sculpture for the city of Bydgoszcz. Generally I have nothing to hide. What I do and how I do it can be always previewed in workshop and outdoors gallery "Przedstudio".

How do you think the Internet will affect Art? Does the Internet have a positive or negative influence on Art?
I haven't got any idea. I'm very bad at futurology. To some recipients - it will being them closer to art, while for many others it will make it a shallow experience. It will allow new kinds of art to be created. It's hard to tell, especially for someone who even now, with such unsharp criteria of defining it, doesn't fully understand what is and what isn't art.

What advice would you give to a young artist who is just starting and wondering where to begin with?
I haven't got such recipes. I am still trying to answer myself where I am now and where am I going. These are various discoveries and choices. You have to be yourself, save as much of yourself as you can and, depending on your Personality and temperament try to realize, explore, and widen your workshop because the bigger the arsenal of individual experiments, the bigger globally the suit of achievements, the richer the set of personalities and careers. The richer our life.

Finally, how do you feel you have been blessed personally as a result of embracing the life of an Artist?
Yes, I think so, without a sense of such a gift - God's spark- I couldn't live as I live, do what I do. And I do enjoy life. This professional fragment of life. But you can't live just with a blessing. You can start with it, trust its sense and, after that, seek, discover, chase, get lost, work, work ... I know no other way of doing it.

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