Polish Artists You Hate You Couldn’t Love

Why no one heard about so many Polish artists is — verily, verily — something to make foreigners angry. Every time anyone is satisfied with their English reads, visions, produce of the monolingual civilisation, there could be at least two irritants in the back of their mind:


#1: Hmm, maybe a haiku born somewhere far away is worth more than all Shakespeare – and I can walk no way to find out?

#2: Hmm, maybe that haiku was never written because its author died in poverty, as most funds went to promote Shakespeare?

Release your anger. I’m giving you a short list of ‘why da
heck don’t I know ’em‘ artists:

PAINTING: Andrzej Wróblewski, died 30, when mountaineering. (Admittedly, a James Deany way of dying scores bonus points for the artist.) If you want to get a handful of his pictures on fine paper, buy this thing. Mind, it’s not an album of Wróblewski’s paintwork.

Shot by a Nazi

It is Arw, a script by Stanisław Czycz [a weirdnik in his own right], about Wróblewski’s life. The script was never put in motion – had it been, the movie would have been made by an honorary Oscar awardee, Andrzej Wajda, who commissioned the script-writing. You may want to find out for yourself why.


THEATRE: Jerzy Grotowski. Nuff said. (As you may know him after all.)
Can NoneTheatre come to YouTube? Apocalypsis Cum Figuris, an example.


POETRY: Bolesław Leśmian. This one is tough — to fully appreciate the flavour of the whisky Leśmian (though I think he’d probably think of himself as absinth, fresh meadow fragrant), one needs to know Polish natively, have a knack for words. Appreciation for deathly eroticism is appreciated, too. If your favourite scene of Wuthering Heights was Heathcliff lovingly opening Cathy’s grave, you’ll catch it.

Cathy, you’ll die on 20th March

Leśmian is a good way to find out if your Polish is native enough. If you don’t find anything extraordinary in the guy’s work, you still have much to learn. (It goes for several millions Poles, too, I know. So?)


SCULPTURE: Read here: “This artist / sculptor created and wrote more by age 30 than DaVinci did his whole life.”. The opinion comes from Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, one of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) Whom does he mean?

Szukalski, Defense

Stanisław Szukalski, his name flowing a bit more vividly in the memesphere recently. I spotted several sources about the artist this year, and if this post could be another straw that breaks the silence’s neck, may it be!
Some intro in Polish here. Some info in English here. Propagate the meme, people. Sons of Yeti, as he would dub you, don’t you love the guy who made this?


POLITICS: The mere alliteration should catch your attention: “poet, private printer, pamphleteer, pagan and pretender to the Polish throne” — Phrone would be as good. — Or Phorn. Well yes, Potocki de Montalk, a Polish New Zealander, authored “Here Lies John Penis“.

Alexandros Pantazopoulos shot it

As well as “Katyn Manifesto“. We can finally talk about it — and not be arrested by British secret agents. (More can be found in the post “The Count” blogged here.)


FILM: I can’t tag Jan Potocki (yes, another by that name) in any Polish category, for his Saragossa Manuscript was written in French. But the book–based movie was all Polish.

The Weird Sisters

“Luis Bunuel (who seldom viewed movies more than once) liked the film so much he watched it three times” — Which makes 9 hours of watching. (I think I already said that.) — Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese financed the restoration of the movie. (Their efforts are the other of so few things why America should be spared, for a time.) [Wait, wait, maybe I must not put Potocki in any human category? For all we know, “we” including Neil Gaiman here, Potocki was a werewolf. He died like one, at least.]


MUSIC: No way. Music speaks One Language. I mean, if I can easily pick up a Polish folk dance in the main Godzilla theme, for instance, why should one translate music? And into what?


I have more. But your suggestions for additions are welcome.

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17 thoughts on “Polish Artists You Hate You Couldn’t Love

  1. […] Polish soldiers. (Why they never won their battles, anyway? The whole truth in two half-truths.] 3. Polish artists. (Why no one heard of them?) 4. Polish scientists. (Why they speak American English?) 5. Polish […]

  2. michael farris says:

    “Music speaks One Language”

    No. It. Doesn’t.

    There’s all sorts of cases of people from another culture interpreting music in _very_ different ways than members of the culture the music comes from.

    Three examples in my experience:

    Vietnamese class in Poland. The teacher is using a film of a kind of modern Vietnamese opera, and claims that the singing is so beautiful it makes her want to cry. Music starts, much suppressed snickering from students.

    I used to have a record of Tibetan music with one song that was so beautiful and sad sounding that more than one person cried listening to it. Apparently the lyrics of the song were about … yak wool and its many uses.

    Music is every bit as prone to culture specific interpretation and reaction as any other art.

  3. guest says:

    ps: and no island ,i am not a chinese spy software. ;)

  4. darthsida says:

    thanks but as I mentioned Saragossa Manuscript, I included Cybulski there (and was it the only film for which he took his black glasses off?) It’s better to get someone watch a movie rather than watch an actor.

  5. darthsida says:

    Yes. it. Does.

    Opera won’t serve you good as an example: operas, operettas, cantos and such – use human languages. But I meant Music. Not Music-Plus-Words.

    Counterexamples would be songs in any language(s) I don’t follow, that made me feel [something].

    So, there is Music potent enough that no lyrics can harm. I may adore Bizet’s Carmen but not because I understand what it’s sung about. Lyrics / librettos in languages not available to the listener become music: the rhytm, the intonation start to matter more then semantic messages.

    Or, there are metal subgenres, vocals supposedly in English, but beyond my reach, that I can’t decode without lyrics sheets in my hand, cause what I get is the gurgling, the growling, the screaming. It does not however stop Music from making my blood boil, bile seethe and pulse trying to catch up with the 200-250 beats/min. (Knowledge of the lyrics can be distastrous (read: beneficial). E.g. I never liked the Beatles meme. She loves you yeyeye [and such] put me off for good, being even less interesting than songs about uses of yak wool. (The latter is boring, perhaps, but at least is a new thing.)

    PS You gave two examples, not three?

  6. michael farris says:

    “So, there is Music potent enough that no lyrics can harm.”

    My point wasn’t that yak wool is a boring topic that won’t hurt a heartbreakingly beautiful melody, my point was that all the evidence was that to Tibetans the melody wasn’t heartbreakingly beautiful at all but rather vaguely pleasant, sort of like ‘Pop goes the weasel’.

    Were the Polish students (who were investing a lot of time and effort into learning an extremely difficult language) being insensitive? tone deaf? How could such beautiful music (for Vietnamese people) sound so silly to them?

    The third (abandoned) example involved an Andean instrument whose name I’m having trouble recalling (sort of like a quena but with balls, very aggressive sound with lots of dissonant overtones). Short story: Andean natives think of it as just another pleasant sounding instrument and Gringos (IME) go crazy (I mean kind of literally) when they hear it.

    No human on earth can understand metal lyrics (and I’m not sure why any would want to). Interesting (maybe) note: The kind of smart, slightly alienated teen or young adult that’s heavily into metal in Poland is absolutely not the profile of US metal fans IME (which is old and out of date, but hey). Metal was for the more materiliasitc whose spiritual needs could be fulfilled with more cash on hand. Those with more … intellectual? concerns got into punk.

  7. darthsida says:

    OK, Michael, I got your point. I think.
    There are still two points where your logic fails me:

    1. How can you know the differences in perceiving music are national, not individual? I mean, we could be born under the same roof, and you’d hate doom metal and I’d love it. — I would argue Music speaks One Language — its dialects being genres rather than geographically-ordered folk things. For the sake of this post, there is nothing, I repeat nothing, that you might give as Polish music to any non-Polish world.

    2. Music speaks One Language. It doesn’t entail every human listens to, let alone understands.

    = Why would punk and metal have to be mutually exclusive? If you don’t want to take me as an example of someone who can enjoy both, take Slayer, they’re American, and released this. Or is it all about money, you say, again?

    = Metal lyrics are for educational purposes, for starters. E.g. no other genre could provide me with a thesaurus of death / kill / pain / sorrow / weaponry synonyms. Knowledge of general English can be tested against some metal band’s lyrics, too. Handle this sheet over to any Pole claiming to know English and ask for the meanings. (Whereas “She loves you yeyeye” goes no problemo.)

  8. island1 says:

    Guest: I didn’t mean I thought you were spyware of some kind. I was just joking that perhaps you are some emissary of the Polish government employed to post positive and amusing things about Poland on any blog that mentions it. It’s amazing that you seem to have an image, video, or reference ready for every occasion.

    Btw, I once had a very weird experience concerning Cybulski. I was at Wroclaw train station talking to my girlfriend and looking at a map of the city (visiting for the first time). I noticed a street called Cybulski and asked her who it was named after, probably because to my Polish-illiterate eye it looked like the Polish word for onion and I thought it was funny. She told me who the actor was and mentioned that he’d died young, possibly as the result of a suicide (she couldn’t remember the details). As we were walking down the platform not 20 seconds later we saw a plaque commemorating the fact that he had been killed on that very platform when he fell under a train. Spooky.

  9. Jacek says:

    From Wikipedia:
    “Zbigniew Cybulski died in an accident at a Wrocław train station on January 8, 1967, at the age of 39. He was running to catch a train leaving the station to Warsaw. As Cybulski jumped to the already speeding train (as he often did before) he slipped on a stairway and fell beneath the train, run over by its wheels. He was buried in Katowice.”

  10. darthsida says:

    => Guest, I second Island here:
    you’re most welcome with your comments and links.

    => Island
    Gets even spookier for a student rushing for trains leaving from / arriving to that platform – on a daily or at least weekendly basis.

  11. […] writes about Polish artists and Polish poster art, and posts another installment of the Inside Warsaw series: Q-U. Share […]

  12. […] their coats, but not of more — about kissing woman’s hand, but no further. Not choosing better artists, but regurgitating some romantic writers the world does not know or care about. Making kids […]

  13. Hi everyone,

    Just to let you know about a new site set up to accompany the release of Saragossa on DVD.


    Hope it adds to your enjoyment of the film

    Timjim (site creator)

  14. darthsida says:

    Thanks, Timjim.
    Btw, allegro has put a few Manuscripts on sale, Region 0 dvd’s, for prices pretty easy to swallow. I have finally got my copy :)

  15. […] culture, Polish life, Polish Movies, Potocki, Saragossa, sculpture, Szukalski Polish Artists You Hate You Couldn’t Love Our secret ags in their show […]

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