Bust "Castle", private property.

Bust "Island", private property.

Bust "Falcon Knight", artist's property.

Serene fantasy

Anna Strzelczyk's art
Irena Huml

Anna Strzelczyk did not work in potery until the early 1980s. That she eventually reached out for it, was out of the curiosity of a graphic artist confined to two dimensions. After graduation from the Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, she had practised graphics art in various forms for many years.

She made her first ceramic "head", as large as life, of refined red clay excavated at Kartuzy, near Gdańsk. She covered that cast head with white glaze on which she painted a large green plant with a graphic artist's meticulousness. Without undue expectations, she sent her first ceramic work to the Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica in Faenza, where many well-known Polish artists had won their spurs. The prize she won was a genuine surprise to her, and prompted her to further research in ceramic art. Among her works completed later on, compositions related to the prize-winning head have an important place. All are characterised by the same mood of serene fantasy.

She is consistent in her departure from traditional portraiture based on rendering the sitter's character traits or the psychological expression of his/her silhouette in favour of her own vision. Her elaborate "heads" crowning sumptuous busts, mostly female, 60 to 80 cm in height, and completed in 1989-'95, were only an excuse for inventive solutions on the borderline of grotesque and fairy tale, at times even updated with quotations from daily surroundings.

Her language has turned out to have a remarkable carrying capacity. Compiled of well-known elements, it permits her to construct new wholes conveying a peculiar meaning, or rather being ambiguous, all prompting a wealth of associations. Her works bear fascinating titles like "Castle", "Ship", "Twilight", "Haunted Block of Flats". There are also titles like "Brisk Secretary", "Spiky Violin", "Swings" or "Waking on the Phone". Though they apparently enter the surrealist convention, they are closer to poetry of children's dreams, fairy-tale visions, and colourful reverie than to the distorting mirror of parody and deformation. Objects like a mediaeval castle, a ship growing from a female head or fit-in floral elements and others are symbolic and conjure up a serene fairy-tale-like atmosphere, far removed form awe-inspiring magic.

Her bright and naively simple colour scheme enhances the sense of directness and serenity, and brings out humorous elements, though at times the prevailing mood is one of nostalgic pensiveness. Anna Strzelczyk's world brings us back to childhood fantasies, to beautiful princesses sleeping in magic castles, forest fairies and cruel poisoners, to the breathtaking adventures of sailors, and other familiar and unfamiliar fairy stories. A parallel motif in her art is governed by thoroughly contemporary imagination, with objects like a telephone playing a symbolic role despite its literal quality, just like elements blended with a human silhouette apparently without rational motivation. Telephone long-distance calls are quite important in the life of almost every average man in the civilised world. The artist's jocular rendering of Bell's invention is quite successful. Finally, mention is due to the poetic and musical associations in her violin series and others, corresponding with the varying moods of every member of the public, and inspiring a serene mood in him. Altogether, Anna Strzelczyk's art, with its load of joy, pensiveness and relaxation, brings us into a world of fantasy.

Translation: Joanna Holzman.

Click on the images below to see full resolution images:

Winged cats

Doll with dragon Doll on fish

Lion family

Bust "Ship" Bust "Lady with parrot" Bust "Cage"

Bust "Winter Garden" Cats Bust "Valkiria"
Bust "Dragon" Cats Bust "Mysterious Garden"