Beata Adamek talks to RYSZARD KAJA
Beata Adamek, Satyrykon: Some years ago, a woman deeply in love with your creation (affection which she seems to share with half of the country) wrote that You only make excellent and very good posters, the good ones happen rather rarely and the bad ones don’t happen at all. You called yourself your beginnings “miserable”. But are there any of your works which you like more than others?
Ryszard Kaja: Gosh! I wish life was so wonderful as you’re saying! I wish I could beguile the hearts with my works… I wish they were so excellent… But the dish I’m serving by drawing on paper is rather a kind of nosh from a cauldron. I cook it the way bigos [Polish traditional dish – trans.] is prepared – I mix everything, add some spice and serve in 100X70cm format. There are a few posters which I’ve made and liked but that is rather not due to their good or bad quality. It’s rather because of what’s around the poster itself, the things I link it with. But there are quite many posters by some other authors which I like. I love Lenica’s posters, I adore Tomaszewski’s ones, I like many by Kaja Renkas, Wiktor Górki or my father’s – Zbigniew Kaja’s ones. Rosocha’s… and those by Cieślewicz, Krajewski, Staniszewski, Rzyski, Starowieyski, Wasilewski, Bajtlik, Górska… Wow, I love a lot of posters which authors would need to be listed for a long time. And mine I like a little less – it might be because I’m still painting, to make the ones I’d like to love.
You once – in 2007 – already made Satyrykon poster. Two times lucky? And speaking more seriously, it’s easily observed and You admit it yourself that You like painting in cycles as one version is not enough, to make all the ideas come true and You like coming back to once mentioned topics. Was it the same in case of Satyrykon? (And what has changed in your approach?)
Indeed, working in cycles appeals to me. In graphics and monotyping, which I like so much, it’s common and acceptable. I transfer the concept of cycle to the poster though. I once made a poster with a butterfly for “Pigasus” gallery where I was having an exhibition, and soon after I finished it I made the second one, and the third and the forth to follow. So in the and the exhibition was promoted with four posters which complemented themselves. I somehow can’t fit into one work, which may be due to my inability to make it well enough, and this is not coquetry. So, there’s being created a cycle of film curiosities, and the biggest cycle I have been making is a series of posters called Poland. However, in case of Satyrykon it’s a bit different. After some time I simply received another commission from the organisers, which I gladly accepted as I wasn’t fully satisfied with the first work and had a chance to rehabilitate. It seems to be typical of me – I need some distance to see whether what I’ve done is good or not. And while I’m working I’m totally engaged, full of enthusiasm, losing the mentioned so important distance. Once the work’s been printed and nothing can be changed at all, I see what’s been good and what’s been bad in it.
Shall we talk a bit about the “backstage” of Satyrykon poster making? I’ve got the feeling that the first version of the idea had a little more frivolous and erotic even character. Has some self-censorship influenced it? Not so long ago poster creating turned out to be a dangerous activity included in the prosecutors’ scope of interest…
Well, my posters are rather polite! Although I do like to wash them with some erotica – used as recollections rather as I’m turning in the years in which I’m slowly losing some turgidity. It happens in our country that a bit of piquancy rouses indignation which makes me feel indignant a lot. And once you touch a serious topic you need to stay very serious. Of course, there are some artists who want to make a scandal but paradoxically they usually fail in their attempts. They keep thinking hard and tiring themselves with the idea to move or offense and what they get in return is nothing, nil, silence, nobody notices their effort – no jumping board for their career, no success at all. But on the other hand, some marginal detail can make the avalanche fall. Such was the case of my poster advertising beer. A really decent poster. The beer name is Pantokrator and I’ve used a bottle cap as if it was an aureole. However strangely and meaningful it may sound, the beer got some interest from the prosecution of which I’m even scared to say. Fortunately, the poster was not closed in cell, it just hangs.
When all the mortal ones await their inspiration and ideas, You seemingly are full of them and 24-hour clock is just not long enough to bring them into life. So, how long does it take to create a poster (for example, such as the one for this year’s Satyrykon)? And how to reach such a creative potential? Do your travels have anything to do with it?
That makes me wonder myself too. Of course, there happen works which I don’t know how to make and I exhaust myself a lot. I try to bite the topic here and there but nothing comes right. But that’s much true that most often I experience explosion ideas, a flock of thoughts. Sometimes there are far too many of them and so I can’t choose or frequently I choose wrongly because they buzz like nagging flies. And I’m like a flypaper hanging from the lamp decorated with flies. What’s more, I love drawing and painting – that’s my idea for life which I like and generally I don’t get tired of creating, though I happen to be tired now and then. This year’s Satyrykon poster has been created in Chulumani, Bolivia. It all want the following way: I go away once a year for a shorter or longer time. I wander through the outskirts with my backpack and I never know where I’ll end up. This year I went to Guatemala and Mexico and followed impulsively to beautiful Bolivia which I adore so much. Unfortunately, Altiplano in Bolivia is located very high, the capital city is at 4000 m and my body can’t cope well with it. So, once I landed in La Paz I hoped to get some acclimatisation after two or three days but it didn’t happen this time – I’m growing older and the process wasn’t going the right way and thus I got on a bus, crossed the Andes, followed the winding road a thousand or two thousand metres down and stopped at green slopes of Chulumani. It was there where chewing banana I opened my e-mail box and received the offer to make this year’s Satyrykon poster. And so I painted it staring at what I had at hand. But I didn’t have the possibility to prepare it to the print – as I said, I was far away, with just backpack – so I couldn’t even scan the drawing and did it later in the US because coming back to Poland I happened to visit the Happy States of America, as Hrabal used to call them. The poster was born overseas then, partly in South partly in North America, and hopefully it smells of this exotic. I know it’s senseless but firstly, Satyrykon organisers don’t have to know about it, and secondly, it roots this poster in my everyday reality which was a little distant in this case.
What must a town or a place have in order to be depicted in your poster? We know it doesn’t have to be famous or big or even traditionally beautiful. Would then Legnica do?
Aaaa, you’re talking of the series of posters “POLSKA”! Well, I’ve been taken, seduced and deeply poisoned with the topic. It’s been started quite modestly but there’s already been made 72 posters by now and the collection is still growing as using the poster I talk of Poland, and a little quieter about myself. Though it can’t be seen, the series is very personal. I choose the most significant places for me and as I’ve always liked travelling and have scaled Poland all over I’ve got a lot of topics. There are big cities and smaller towns like Wolsztyn which is just being painted right now, and the little one situated on the forest side like Warnowo where I hide myself in the garden full of hydrangeas in summer. Of course, Legnica will be one of them! Not only due to the fact that boss of Wroclaw’s Poster Gallery which commissioned the series comes from Legnica, but also because I’ve been here and felt well. The poster itself has already been stared, but hash, I won’t tell what’s in it. It’ll probably be finished and published this year. There’re more layers in these posters – not only I talk about Poland or myself but I’m trying to link them to different aesthetics – set properly, they could depict the history of Polish poster. As Legnica used to be contaminated with soviets, the poster will surely, if I successfully match it with the topic of the drawing, smell of the old, well-gone socio-realism. Legnica surely will be there! There might be place for burning-red fringe, as for me personally, the owner of this squirrel-like hairdo is symbol of Legnica too.
You keep repeating that a poster should be commissioned. Could this commission be a very private request? In other words, is the personal relation with the event, with topic in this case, of any meaning to you? I’ve got impression that Satyrykon poster is much more personal, that it reveals your very personal relation with Satyrykon.
Well, when I was drawing a cat in my first Satyrykon poster I was honestly realising an order. It was a puzzle which I tried to solve in the best possible way. Legnica Cantat poster was a similar case but choir topic is quite close to me as I’ve worked in theatre and opera for long years and am deeply fascinated with the choirs. I now have got to know Satyrykon, have been here, had fun, laughed, watched, shown, and what’s probably most important I have met a lot of people. It’s much easier and nicer to make a poster for the event which you know and like.
Still though – if not tomato soup, then what? (the question to a gourmet). Well not bananas hopefully?
The duck! If not tomato soup then duck, oh… how I like it… or potato pancakes, the ones made by my neighbour, or fish soup, the one we used to have at home at Christmas Eve supper, with nutmeg, or Thai soup, the one straight from the pot in the street, or beetroots with caraway seeds, courgette in any form, or Mrs Jamrozikowa’s leek salad, or Tamara’s fish soup, or Leszek’s goulash, or… how much time do we have?
Unluckily, You could not be in Legnica when there were shown your “gryzmoły” (extracts of your diary), dziwozwierza (strange-animals poster series) during Satyrykon. Shall we expect you’ll appear this year?
I like it here – I’ll come!!!
more images: http://www.pigasus-gallery.de/kaja-poster.php