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ICONOSTASIS OF LIGHT


ADAM STALONY-DOBRZANSKI


The signature compsed by the artist in the form of Gothic tracery made up of the initials of his name and surname: AS-D, shaped as St. Peter's boat, and set on an equal-armed Greek cross.




BIOGRAPHY OF ADAM STALONY-DOBRZANSKI

Adam Stalony-Dobrzański (1904—1985), painter, graphic artist, artwork conservator, professor of Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. Born on 19 November 1904 in Mena, Czernihovska Province (now Ukraine). Grandson of a January 1863 Uprising insurgent and deportee, the eldest son of Felix (1865-1928), an examining magistrate in Chernihov, a Polish Roman Catholic, also an exile for patriotic activities, and Anna nee Kowalenko (1880–1941), an Old Believer Ukrainian. After a few years younger siblings were born, sister Aleutyn (1906-1978), a Russian language teacher, and brother Seweryn (1908-1985), a lawyer and attorney in law. In 1906 the Stalony-Dobrzański family left for county town Czerikov (now in Belorussia), and in 1917 returned to present Ukraine, where they settled in Pryluki near Poltava in the house of the mother’s father Kornij Kovalenko. There, in the dramatic years of the revolution and civil war, since the age of 13 A S-D worked hard doing manual jobs to ensure maintenance of his parents and younger siblings hiding away from the Soviet law. From his father and mother he received a thorough education in his family home, familiarised himself with masterpieces of literature in Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian languages, he spoke fluent Latin and Old Church Slavonic. He also studied drawing and painting under M. Chitagurov’s and A. W. Skalon’s tutelage.

In 1922, when bitten by a rabid dog, he got hospitalised in Kiev. That was where he found his relative Felicja Jankowska, who helped the Stalony-Dobrzański family to settle repatriation formalities. In March 1923 A S-D and his family came to Poland. After a short stay in Warsaw and Inowrocław they settled in Miechow near Krakow, where his father Feliks Stalony-Dobrzański was appointed examining magistrate. There, a student of the local high school for boys, A S-D painted his first wall polychrome in the school's auditorium.

In 1927, after passing the entrance exams at the Faculty of Law of the Jagiellonian University and the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, he chose studying painting at the Academy. His professors were Władysław Jarocki, Fryderyk Pautsch, and Ignacy Pieńkowski. He also attended classes with Xawery Dunikowski and Józef Mehoffer. He was particularly fond of lettering classes with Ludwik Gardowski, a professor at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Close cooperation with his favourite professor would result in Adam Stalony-Dobrzański's post-war appointment as the head of Lettering Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, the only such department in Poland, and perhaps in Europe.

Still a student, in 1929 ASD showed his drawings in ''Beautiful Book'' section of the Art Exhibition at the National Exhibition in Poznań, and in 1931 the Academy of Fine Arts awarded him a prize for his graphic and lettering works. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1933. During his studies in 1932-33 AS-D worked with Władysław Cichon on the discovery and conservation of the medieval polychromy in the wooden church in Harklowa in Podhale, Poland's southernmost region in the foothills of the Tatra range of the Carpathian mountains, which was subsequently passed by both artists to the National Museum in Krakow.

In 1934 he restored a Gothic crucifix, and in Józef Mehoffer’s team he co-painted the polychrome in the parish church in Turku. In 1934, together with Ludwik Gardowski, he was awarded the third prize in the architectural and urban planning contest for the design of the surroundings of the Mound of Józef Piłsudski in Krakow's Sowiniec neighbourhood. In the inter-war period, he painted individually and in teams the polychromes in churches in Boleszczyn and Poręba Górna (1935) and in Tuczno (1937). In 1939, just before WWII, he painted the polychrome in the church in Dobromil, in today's Ukraine (now preserved). During WWII AS-D didn't stop working for Catholic and Orthodox churches. At the Bernardines church in Radom he continued the Gothic sculputures’ restoration commenced in 1938, and in 1941, together with Wiktor Z. Langner, they painted the polychrome in the church (1941, now overpainted except a side chappel). Moreover, in 1943 he painted the polychrome in the Catholic church in Bobino and in the Orthodox church in Tarnopol in Ukraine (blown in the air in 1962 by Soviets).

Just after WWII, in the autumn of 1945, he joined the staff of the Department of Architecture at the Mining & Metallurgy Academy in Krakow (now Department of Architecture of Krakow University of Technology). Since 1947 he lectured at the Lettering Studio of the State College of Fine Arts, which in 1957 restored its original name of the Academy of Fine Arts. After a few years AS-D developed the Studio to the Independent Department of Lettering, which he headed until his retirement in 1979. Because of his work for the Catholic Church and involvement in it, he hadn’t been granted the academic title of professor, despite repeated requests of the Academy’s Senate. Earlier in the 1950's he was a regular guest at the Security Office in Krakow, where he was offered the mission of the Office's undercover associate in the Church community. Although the refusal would mean a car accident or suicide, the artist rejected the explicit command and left his fate in the hands of Providence. The ''Polish Thaw'' of 1956 ended the series of meetings, but didn’t deprive him of the Office's ''care''. It returned in 1962 in the form of censorship and full ban on public display of his works.

In parallel to his teaching, A S-D kept working on monumental sacred art compositions. He provided polychromes, stained-glass, and mosaics for Catholic and Orthodox churches, and for an Evangelical Lutheran church in Warsaw. In 1945, together with Ludwik Grabowski, they made paintings in Blessed Simon of Lipnica chapel at the Bernardines church in Krakow, and in 1946-67 he completed the polychrome in the parish church in Bobino near Proszowice, which he initiated in 1943. In 1945, to honour the first after WWII St. Barbara’s Day at Mining and Metallurgy Academy in Krakow, he produced his first stained-glass (in cooperation with L. Gradowski) that depicted St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners (removed from the Academy in 1952, and stored until 1981 at St. Barbara church in Krakow). In 1950-56, at the commission of Ms. Izabela Żeleńska, owner of Krakow’s most prestigious stained-glass studio that procured works by Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, he designed stained-glass windows for the parish church in Trzebownisko near Rzeszów. This commission ultimately reinforced the artist’s interest in stained-glass.

In 1950-64 he provided sets of stained-glass works for the parish church in Zawiercie, and in 1953-55 for the Orthodox church in Gródek Białostocki. In 1953-61 he provided polychrome and stained-glass for the parish church in Rozwadów, and in 1958-67 stained-glass for choir windows in the Gothic cathedral in Nysa. In 1964 he provided stained-glass for the Orthodox cathedral in Wrocław and for an Evangelical Lutheran church in Warsaw. In 1969-70 he provided polychrome and stained-glass for the parish church in Tenczynek, and in 1973-78 stained-glass and polychrome (now overpainted) for the parish church in Kozy near Bielsko-Biała, and stained-glass and polychrome for the Orthodox church in Warsaw’s Wola district. And further on, in 1979 stained-glass windows for the parish church in Wilkowice near Bielsko-Biała, and the Collegiate church in Jarosław.

Apart from stained-glass, he still painted monumental wall polychromes, such as that in the Orthodox church in Michałów near Białystok (1954-55). In 1960, together with his student, friend, and many-year collaborator Jerzy Nowosielski, they painted the polychrome in the Orthodox sanctuary on the Holy Mount Garbarka, and in the Orthodox church in Białystok-Dojlidy (now demolished). He also provided mosaics, for the church in Gołcz near Miechów (1949), and for the Orthodox cathedrals in Wrocław and Warsaw.

Besides sacred art, he designed layouts for Jan Matejko’s albums: ''Clothing in Poland 1200-1795'' (Krakow 1967) and ''The Kings of Poland'' (Krakow 1969), as well as for books by Archbishop of Warsaw and Primate of Poland Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński ''In the Lights of Millennium'' (Krakow 1961), and by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła ''Love and Responsibility'' (Krakow 1962). A S-D designed the Tadeusz Kościuszko oath memorial plaque in the Main Market Square in Krakow. He designed vestments and embroidery for the Reformates monastery in Krakow, and banners for the Mining and Metallurgy Academy in Krakow and for CPN Gasoline and Oil Trade Company.

In 1956, a documentary film was produced under direction of Jan Łomnicki presenting the stained-glass in the Orthodox church in Gródek Białostocki (awarded at the Venice Film Festival). A S-D’s first individual exhibition was held at TPSP Palace of Arts in Krakow in 1957. Then it was relocated to a museum in Przemyśl. Because of the sacred content of the works, his second and last exhibition in 1960 in Katowice was closed by the Censorship Board just after the opening, and its catalogue was recognised as ''prayer book'' and confiscated. Also, then a complete ban was imposed on A S-D’s publications, exhibitions, and – in connection with a cooperation offer from a leading US studio The Willet Stained-glass Windows – on foreign travels and even sending his works abroad.

Only in 1981, in the ''Solidarity days'', the artist's grandson, student of the Department of Architecture of Krakow University of Technology Jan S-D, produced an exhibition of cardboard patterns for A S-D's stained-glass windows in „GIL Club'' at Krakow University of Technology, and then in 1988 opened the already posthumous exhibition of AS-D's stained-glass at the cultural centre of the Pauline Convent in Paris. Since 2011 A S-D's works were presented as part of a governmental program of the Polish culture promotion abroad in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk (formerly Stanisławów), Berdyczów, Vinnitsa and Kamieniec Podolski. The artist's exhibitions were also opened in Rozwadów and in Paris. Exhibitions of the artist's stained-glass in Belgrade, Skopje and Podgorica in the Balkans are currently being prepared.

A S-D was a pioneer of ecumenism in Poland. As secular counsellor, he was a member of the Polish Orthodox Church Council to Metropolitan Bishop Basil (Doroszkiewicz), and of the Artists Council to Krakow Metropolitan Cardinal Karol Wojtyła. The artist died 22 March 1985 in Krakow, when working on his last work — a set of stained-glass for the Orthodox Church in Hajnówka.

He signed his works with intertwined initials of his name and surname: AS-D in the form of Gothic tracery, shaped as St. Peter's boat, and set on an equal-armed Greek cross.


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