Saturday, September 21, 2013


I am amazed when I look at art from other countries, how different it is from what I think of as great art.

A case in point, is a Polish woman, whose very simple, yet colorful paintings are considered national treasures of Poland. Her works look like those of a young child and yet in her naive simplicity she gets her message across. Her love of God is most evident in her art.

KATARZYNA GAWLOWA (1896-2002) was born in 1896 in the small village of Zielonki, close to Kracow, Poland. As a child she worked long and hard on her father's farm- working the fields, looking after the cows, and making trips to town to sell milk and vegetables. When she was inside of their humble thatched home, she would paint walls, filling every space with birds, flowers, saints, and angels. When her parents died, she moved to a neighboring house and continued her passion, painting holy figures on the walls. This practice continued for years and fed Katarzyna's spirit.

Jesus in the Garden

Jesus Entombed
In the early 1970's, a young artist from Krakow and Jacek Lodzinski, a collector, encouraged the now almost 80 year-old woman to do portable paintings. Though she was timid at first, she immediately loved the sensation of seeing her paintings framed. Before long, people visited her from Kracow, Warsaw, and countries whose language she did not understand. She was amazed that all of these people wanted to see her work.

Though much of  Katarzyna's work is religious in nature, she painted objects from her own environment and events from her childhood, such as wedding feasts, pilgrimages, and folk bands. Her religious work most often features the Virgin Mary decorated with flowers, birds and butterflies. Katarzyna was not wealthy so her supplies were limited. Much of her work is on hard cardboard and plywood. Because she was taught not to waste, she wasted no space on her paintings, filling in many figures and often adding poems and lyrics in any free space. Her colors are generally bright, pure and direct, creating a two-dimensional feeling.

St. Veronica
Sacred Heart

On December 28, 1977 Kracow's Ethnographic Museum held an exhibition of her paintings, and art lovers were able to experience first hand an authentic talent that had grown out of contemporary Polish Folk Art. Katarzyna died in the 1980's, leaving behind a wealth of work. She is surely one of Poland's treasures.

Adam & Eve

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