Po oczach


To claim that Mysyrowicz’s “exhibition of caricatures and cartoons”, appearing as a relation of the whole variety of the author’s interests and fields of activity, is actually a show of poster art, comes not even as a paradox but rather as a cliché. The Artist himself has already stressed not only once that everything started with a poster, derives from a poster, and it combines with a poster, too…

All kinds of artistic activity present here have one thing in common, they would be noticed even in the most packed column of any press title. Despite their small sizes, they appear to be monumental. Quite many of them would fit large size best, and then they would flourish, let it be, as a billboard covering the whole facade.

An imposing number of portrait caricatures actually also remind posters of a crazy “event” called life. Many years ago Jerzy Urban pinpointed their masterful realism in the first place. Still it would be sheer simplification if we just said that the less realistic the presentation is the more people from these portraits become historical or cultural phenomena…

The main characters, “people from the covers of magazines”, or those who should find themselves on the front pages, are often depicted as surrounded by stage lights. Or perhaps The Stage Lights. Nomen omen, it happens metaphorically, and in the poster series literally. Neon reflections that slide down their faces in a clear way both transform the heroes into pop culture idols and X-ray them. One could even dare to say that the Artist’s glance decompose them into prime factors, reduce to pixels and basic colours the same way the white light is dispersed by a prism, and then he arranges it anew. We know fathers of this style of painting, from Impressionism to record covers by Świerzy, still Mysyrowicz’s caricatures shine with their own, often demonic light, against the background.

The world depicted by Mysyrowicz is a really demonic place (what is stressed by pure, strong and dark colours). The Ten Commandements happen to be an uncomfortable humpback, with a lot of objections and corrections. The most intelligent people are perhaps most supposed to be bitten by pride, which is so typical for the world of elites, and seduced by Mephistophelian whispers. Not excluding – what we can observe in the jubilee series of self-portraits – the author himself who also belongs to this world…

The idea of transforming a caricature into a poster is explicite the basis of “theatre posters” series. The very concept of combining portraits of politicians with opera and theatre classics. These collisions, even extremely malicious ones, somehow ennoble these “one action heroes”, and allow us to see in them certain types and general phenomena. However, we should say at the same time, that it is not about profound analysis, rather about the repercussion of the well-known titles used as advertisement slogans, aptly accentuated by drawings which are the base for all these jokes.

The whole series leads directly to probably the most important for Mysyrowicz subject, being the theatre of power, which is treated by him in so many different ways. Succumbing to slogans, we could refer to a “Shakesperan theatre of power”, but also to New Year’s Eve political cabarets. A crown, a jester’s cap, a stick, a carrot (and a few more items) are elementary symbols, frequently and masterfully used by Mysyrowicz since the very beginning. The daily version of most up-to-date comments are hundreds of political cartoons published on pages of “NIE” magazine and also these sent in to monthly cartoon contest of the Museum of Caricature and Cartoon. To say that Polish sauce, or straw coming out of Polish authorities’ shoes is the most frequent topic would be yet another simplification. So on the one hand we are happy that there is somebody who has ventured to be so uncompromisingly sharp-tongued, at moments cynical indeed, and up-to-date, while on the other hand we could even regret that such an Artist serves with his talent so evanescent and fugacious issues. As we can notice with our own eyes how quickly they become history. Thanks to Mysyrowicz we are also able to call the most recent fragments of the latest history in our minds, as they are so immediately forgotten. But there is one fact worth mentioning. The concepts, tested in his cartoons every week or every month on the occasion of present-day matters, often become eventually the base for what we love most. And what I mean these are his universal and dedicated to the most universal issues posters. The Chopin tradition which is transformed into a vodka standing on an abandoned piano. Poland divided precisely by a cross. Elegant demonism of venal femininity crammed into an illustration of a broad slogan: “You’re first, you’re next”, sharp as a razor tongue of a cabaret. These were the works thanks to which Mysyrowicz was awarded or at least short-listed at Satyrykon. And these ones exactly will survive not only humble forty years but also any imagined anniversaries.

And if – according to Mysyrowicz – both in posters, caricatures and cartoons the most crucial element is a punch line, then the core of Mysyrowicz’s punch line is most often an apt comparison, which derives from treasures of artistic inspirations, knowledge and life experience.

Beata Adamek

Mysyrowicz graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Faculty of Painting and Graphic Arts, later Faculty of Graphic Arts. He was awarded a diploma with distinction in the studio run by Prof. Henryk Tomaszewski (1973). He focuses on graphic design, cartoons, occasionally his active in other artistic disciplines. He has participated in a few hundreds of poster, painting and drawing exhibitions in Poland as well as in a few dozens of countries on all continents. He won more than 150 awards and was honorary mentioned for his works (posters, graphic logos and cartoons). He has been among laureates of Tadeusz Trepkowski Award twice, the Legnica Satyrykon twelve times and the International Contest in Zielona Góra and Kożuchów eight times. He introduced 32 solo shows, including an exhibition at the Museum of Caricature and Cartoon Art in Warsaw in 2013. In 2014 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his artistic activity a benefit was held at the Rampa Theatre in Warsaw. On this occasion he had an individual exhibition which comprised over 500 cartoons and a few dozens of posters. A 496-paged author’s book accompanied the event. It combines an exhibition catalogue with historical narration and autobiographical tales. Mysyrowicz is an author of hundreds of posters, he has designed and illustrated dozens of books, publications and advertisement prints.

In the period of 1990-2010 he collaborated with a Weekly Journal “NIE” where he published over 5000 cartoons. The artist’s works are in private collections and in many museums in Poland and abroad. In 1974-1982 he was a member of the Association of Polish Visual Artists, he was also a secretary of the former Society of Polish Design Graphic Artists, since 1987 he has been a founder-member of the Society of Polish Artists of Caricature (SPAK). In 2005-2011 he was a treasurer, and since 2011 the President of SPAK. He was honoured by SPAK with ERYK ‘2011 and the Badge of 25th Anniversary of SPAK. He was awarded in 2013 by the Movement “More Beautiful Poland” under the patronage of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. He lives and works in Warsaw.

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