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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.




THE ARTIST'S SELECTED MEMORIES FROM 1984

Anna, the artist's daughter: So who in the Stalony-Dobrzański family had come back to Poland, and who had stayed in the East?

 

AS-D: You'll know soon, one thing at a time. Władysław served in the Imperial Guard in Warsaw, a cavalry unit, he also administered estates. He knew horses and traded them.

 

 

Władysław, who was your father's brother, but what had happened there?

 

AS-D: Right, he was also a «victim of honour». Because what a scandal it was that Stalony-Dobrzański had cheated. How did he cheat? He sold four horses, beautiful, dun with black manes and tails, and with black stripes on their backs. And next spring one of the four lost the stripe, because when horses moulted that spring that horse had shed it. But it didn't wash off throughout the autumn and winter — what a painter he was! The next was Felix, my dad, followed by Stanisław, the youngest brother. And this same youngest Stanisław married badly, because a housemaid in his estate. Well, he couldn't get any worse. Not only she was of the Orthodox faith, but also a peasant, and a house maid on top of it. Because Felix, he at least married a half-noble and high school graduate. She had her own horse, own room and maid, and she was the personal secretary to a gentleman by the name of Tierieszczenko. And there she met a young Pole, who had arrived as an investigating magistrate. She was just graduated, didn't go to a college, because there was no money for it.

 

And what about that Stanisław?

 

AS-D: When Stanisław had married the maid, his family — well, just cursed him out.

And because like the other Stalony-Dobrzańskis he was not a soft character, so he said: OK, all right, suit yourself — bye, bye. I don't know you either. And hence we don't know his children in Ukraine, or in Russia or Belarus perhaps.

 

And when the October Revolution broke out, you went to Pryluky, and then what?

 

AS-D: A mad dog had bitten me, a little pup actually. So they took me to a hospital in Kiev. For very nasty injections to the abdomen. When they were taking me to the hospital, my dad told me — go to Bulvarna – Kudriavska street, I don't remember the number, maybe someone still lives there, Fela Jankowska perhaps.

 

And who was Fela Jankowska?

 

AS-D: My cousin. So I came out there, introduced myself and told that I came for treatment. And she says: how good that you have come. In two weeks I'm leaving for Poland, as a repatriate. They'll send an invitation for you from Poland right away. After some time this invitation from Poland came. Well, so it begun in Pryluki — photographs, documents, full-fledged returnees. For documents I had to go to Kharkov to the Polish consulate. My father couldn't go, because anybody might shot him at any time.

 

All that in 1922?

 

AS-D: Already in 1923, because fixing this documents in Pryluky took the whole year. We arrived to Szepietówka, and here comes a train from Poland. So we came, everything's very well. We have already checked in our stuff — and in the last minute it turned out that some stamp was missing, one on these documents. And for this stamp someone had to go back, to Kharkov again. What to do? So Mom says – Dad cannot go, I'm afraid to let Adaś go. I'm going, because they'll do nothing to me. Imagine that in this Shepetovka, thanks to good people, because we had nothing, all things had gone to Poland, we were sitting still almost a month until Mom came back with the stamp. When we arrived to Poland, here the documents, right away. This, that, and yet something else, everybody went further on, and we didn't — we were referred to a quarantine camp in Dorohusk. And the first thing once we got there was delousing. All cloths had to be deloused, what the delousing was? It was a traction engine, to which they put all cloths of all these poor devils who just had come and now were left almost naked. And there they kill with compressed steam all those alleged insects. In a word, when they removed our clothes from the boiler and gave them back to us, then, well, all sleeves were half-elbow long. And everything was so wrinkled that it couldn't be ironed, and after all there was no iron.

 

OK, and how about that checked-in stuff?

 

AS-D: They gave us these things. They were waiting for us on the Polish side, we were still in the Soviet Union, while our stuff was in Poland already. When I saw what's going on, this quarantine, police with bayoneted riffles, I wanted to come back right away. I thought that they would welcome us repatriates almost in a triumphal gate. And here we go — the policeman, guard, and delousing. And we were sitting two weeks in this Dorohusk. The first time in my life I saw my Dad cry, because they took my younger sister and cut her hair bald. And she had beautiful hair. The first time I saw him cry, when he saw his child with her hair cut bald. After two weeks they escorted us, under bayonets again, to Warsaw. Because we were invited by our uncle Antoni, who was a professor at Warsaw Polytechnic.

 

And when he came from that Bessarabia to the Polytechnic?

 

AS-D: Nobody knew, we knew nothing. When they brought us to Warsaw, they put Mom and Sister to women's cell, and me with my Brother to another cell. And Father, because it was written in the papers that he was a judge, stayed in the corridor. I was so angry, I was the oldest sibling, an adult already, that I regretted that we had come to Poland. The first thing was, when they put us in that cell, that one or another inmate asked — what did they put you, shitheads, in here for? They might have thought that we were pickpockets, well, because we were small.

 

And you, what about that?

 

AS-D: Nothing, that we just have come... that — oh! They didn't want to believe. Uncle Antoni came, they ask him is this your brother? He says: yes, he is my brother. Is this his wife? Yes, she is his wife. Do you know her personally? Yes, I know her personally. Are these his children? Uncle says: Well, as my brother and his wife say that these are his children, well, who else’s they may be? Have you seen them? How could I see them, they are small, we parted long ago. And yet this last thing, why they are of the Orthodox faith? So, you know.

 

This one too? Was it also important?

 

AS-D: Of course, it was the main secret why they took us to Dorohusk, then with the police to Warsaw, and in Warsaw they still kept us the whole day in prison. As they finally let us go, we went to uncle Ksawery, out of Warsaw already. There the apartment was bigger, the air was better, and it was cheaper than in a big city. We were a party of five, who had arrived. Dad also lodged papers and an application with Ministry of Justice. And in some two, three months he got a job in Miechów.

 

When did you matriculate in the Academy?

 

AS-D: In 1927 I graduated from high school and passed the admission exam for the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. The Academy was then a hundred times more progressive and democratic than it is today. It wouldn't come to anybody's mind to ask who is your father or mother. A laundress or countess. Nobody would ever care for asking why do you want to study with this professor rather than with another. Almost every six month any student could chose another professor. And everybody understood that it was natural, because he wanted to learn something else from somebody else, isn't it normal? I was in Jarocki's class and in Dunikowski's sculpting class. And in Pautsch's, and then Pieńkowski's and Kamocki's. For some time I attended Mehoffer's classes, a visiting student kind of.

 

Visiting?

 

AS-D: One could attend other classes to. And if there was a place, one could exercise. And since I worked in addition, I was on the board of Bratniak — a student cooperative, which helped students to get a job — I had a business to the Dean. So we went with Staszek Westwalewicz to Jarocki. We have sorted out the business, thanked, and were leaving. And he says again: come back for a moment here. I recommend you very much that you be enrolled, a new professor is coming from Warsaw. And Stasiek, or perhaps I, asked what would he taught? Lettering. So it wasn't proper to say to the Dean: Come on, Mr. Dean, I want to be a painted, not a sign maker, I don't give a damn for such an offer. But out of politeness we only asked how long this course would take? He says: It's scheduled for 6 weeks, and then, if there are students, the professor's engagement will be extended. And Ludwik Gardowski kept coming from Warsaw for two, three days, and then he went back and came again. Later it turned out that it lasted not six weeks but two years. And then for 30 years after Gardowski I was teaching lettering at the Academy. Because with him it was that everybody was sitting late into the night and everybody was interested in everything. So that certain Nowak, a janitor, would come and say: Dear Professor, perhaps you might go home already, I'll have to get up at five tomorrow to fire the stoves. Ten o’clock already, I must lock the Academy.

 

And besides professor Gardowski, with whom did you study mainly?

 

AS-D: With Pieńkowski, although Dunikowski used to tell me, lisping, as he did: Stay in my sculpture class, painting is good for nothing. And Pieńskowski... after graduation I came to bid goodbye to him. And he says so: Well, now I have to call you Dear Colleague, as you have graduated already. I'm glad that you've come to say goodbye. Well, it suits to say something for the road of life. You are probably convinced after all these years in my classes that painting, and the entire art I guess, is nothing but logic and decision. Well, of course — we know this secret — one has to really love something. Good bye, Sir.

 

And what did you do for your diploma work?

 

AS-D: There was nothing like a diploma committee or anything like that. There was a diploma work, and besides some exams had to be passed, which were obligatory for painters. These were sculpture and graphics, and theoretical courses. I also passed an exam in pedagogy. I had managed easily, although it was funny too.

 

What was so funny?

 

AS-D: There was a professor Homolarz, very nice man, from Industrial School, who was there to ask theoretical questions. So he asked me: Should an incident in teaching of drawing at high school be eradicated or nurtured? And I wrote only Aurea mediocritas i.e. «The Golden Mean» in Latin. Rector Pautsch summoned me and said: Dear Adam, this is a waste of the money, which you have paid for this examination, you can't insult the professor. And I said: Mr. Rector, what do you think, should it be eradicated or nurtured? He said: Well, you are right, but please, write half a page at least. Who writes a Latin proverb at an exam. It's rude to the Professor. The Professor will reject such work.

 

But how come that it came to your mind, Daddy, just to answer with that Latin sentence, did you learn to memorise those Latin words of wisdom so strictly?

 

AS-D: You know a lot after a good high school.

 

And when did you paint your first church?

 

AS-D: Still a student, I went to a church in Harklowa in the Podhale region. My colleague, Władek Cichoń, came to me. Adam, I'm sick, you got to help me. To help you in what? Well, in painting a church. I said: how, after all I'm a painter of horses, how could I paint a church? And besides, that priest will excommunicate you, if you bring a schismatic to his church. No, this is a wise priest, and he knows that you will behave as in your own Orthodox church. You gotta go and help me. So I went to this Harklowa, and we worked there for two years.

 

Why so long?

 

AS-D: First they painted and underpinned the church, then reconstructed its tower and shingled its roof, and so on. We liked the job very much. The priest was giving us what he could — some honey or a sheepiskin coat etc. — just like Vladika Vasilij many years later in the Orthodox church in Grodek.

 

This means that you were coming and going, you didn't stay there all the time?

 

AS-D: No, not all the time. And then, when cleaning the attic, I found that historic ceiling painted with the «Dębno polychromes». So we were renovating that Dębno polychromes almost all winter in Harklowa, and they went to Krakow afterwards. And then the comedy begun. Neither Szydłowski, who was a Jagiellonian University professor and a conservator, nor Kopera, who was director of the National Museum in Krakow, gave the priest any money to rebuilt and restore these historical paintings. Although the priest, as well as I and Władek, we were ready to remove that new polychrome, which we had painted, and to restore those old planks there. Highlanders were very poor then. Szlembark was misery and hunger. There were seven hundred souls in that parish altogether. The priest had no more money. So we made the ceiling under the belfry of some of the planks, and brought the rest of them in horse wagons to Krakow.

 

So it all was there in the attic, those planks?

 

AS-D: When they fixed the church before us, they ripped those medieval planks as unfashionable, but the wood was good, so they made another ceiling in the attic of them, and the church itself they painted into a stony Gothic — this little cute wooden church. Dębno was the Harklova parish's branch church. And these patterns in Harklowa were either contemporary or even earlier than those in Dębno. When we had brought the planks to Krakow and carried them to the Gallery of the 19th Century Polish Art at Sukiennice, Director Kopera came and said: Well, I don't know if it’s good enough for this Museum, it is too new. So we, Władek and I, are explaining, that since it's a patterned painting so those patterns should be deciphered, and then, when you print a pattern, you print the whole of it, but there is neither pure green nor pure cinnabar, all this is toned. And Kopera: OK, but it doesn't look like museum, anyway.

 

So you had renovated these planks so thoroughly?

 

AS-D: In general, we reconstructed it, because the painting was wiped off in many places. So what to do? And there was Buczkowski, a super nice man, vice director, and he said: Well, why don't you wear it down a little. So we took the planks out one by one, and put them in pairs on that little balcony opposite the Gebethner bookshop and Bracka Street, and Władek Dynar and Władek Cichoń were pouring some water from a bucket and I was walking on the planks shuffling my feet, you know, so not to damage them completely, that something was left. And then Kopera came again: Well, now when I find a ceiling I'll not know if you haven't done it. Such was his praise. And when he came to Harklowa, because the priest wrote that he had donated these planks to the Museum, he entered the church, the priest came, and Kopera said: So where are these planks that the Reverend is donating? And the priest said: Since you are in a church, perhaps you'd care to take your hat off.

 

So he didn't take his hat off?

 

AS-D: No, he didn't. And then the priest said: You are standing on them, though. Because they were so piled. Oh, I'm sorry, Rev. Because there was a scaffold in the church, so Kopera was excused because of the scaffold, you know.

 

Perhaps you would tell something else about the student days?

 

AS-D: In the Burkenmeier dormitory also Wacek Szarbiński lived, and his last name was then Kura [Hen].

 

Does it mean that he changed his surname?

 

AS-D: Yes, and once something like this happened, suddenly we were told that he had two ribs broken. What? How broken? He came from home to the student house and Jaso Wilk [Wolf] met him, now gone already, a rather small guy in build.

 

And this Kura, how big he was?

 

AS-D: Kura was also slender, but not smaller than the other guy. So Wilk was happy to see him — Wacek, how are you, and embraced him. And then everybody was laughing and saying: you stupid wolf, don't you know that hens have weak ribs?

 

And how about that Nazdrowicz priest in Boleszczyn?

 

AS-D: For Reverend Nazdarowicz everything was very nice in his church, he liked it all. The church was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. I have no photos from there, Stasiek Westwalewicz and Józek Sękalski were helping me. Well, the priest liked it all very much, he fed painters well and kept saying the they eat too little, etc. He used to take us for strolls, so we wouldn't sit in the church too long, because it wasn’t good for our eyes. He believed that painters always need to be told dirty jokes. Since painters paint nude ladies at the Academy, they need such jokes. There were some other stories too. And one, about that monkey, is worth telling. When the monkey burst in the yard, dogs were hiding in the kennel right away. The monkey wasn't big, and yet the dogs, and yet even calves and young moose, were hiding. Not to mention a cow or horse. The monkey had to be watched, so it wouldn't hit the stables, because it would right away jump on the horse and had to be carried. The horse was tied, so it carried the monkey back and forth, and it was quickly sweating of fear, because the monkey tickled it all over its back. And at lunch the monkey always sat behind the priest's chair and scratched his head. And once Rev. Nazdarowicz said this: Gentlemen, I like it all very much, but just on that side, i.e. off the altar on the rainbow arc, be so kind and paint the Paradise for me, but with no people in the Paradise, only animals, please.

 

It means that the Reverend corrected the Good Lord's job a little, but when did you do your first stained glass job?

 

AS-D: I made my first stained glass together with Ludwik Gardowski in 1945 for the first St. Barbara's Feast Day celebration at the Mining Academy, a student party. There was a bay at the entrance to the hall, and what to do with it. So we painted St. Barbara on a sheet of tracing paper and backlit her. The Academy's rector was Mr. Goetl. And right away he ordered us to make a stained glass from the tracing paper. We made it, Goetl paid well. The stained glass was set in a lovely forged frame. And Mrs. Żeleńska, at whose workshop it was done, liked it enormously. However the «authority» didn't like it at all, and as soon as Mr. Goetl wasn't the rector anymore they transferred it to St. Barbara's church secretly, but they didn't set in any window to keep it out of sight. And then Rev. Józef Burda from Trzebowiska village came to Mrs. Żeleńska. That he would like to commission some stained glass but he didn't have much money. Mrs. Żeleńska said: Here is a young painter. He recently made a good stained glass window, so perhaps he'll make some for you. So I made for Rev. Burda all stained glass windows in the whole church at once. This was the first church that I made stained glass for. I liked working there. It was also fun at Rev. Burda's place, because he used to say: You don't eat anything, more and more hens, turkeys, and ducks are running around the yard because you don't eat. And his housekeeper was fat like a whale. And we were painting there a month and a few days, the whole church. A small church. And the dinner never repeated, not even once, every day a new «menu». There were Jurek Jelski, Helenka Korzec, Jurek Nowosielski, Staszek Westwalewicz, and an older colleague by the name of Bieńkowski. Then also Mr. Kurcz, who was a retired revenue officer, and a landscapist. He beautifully painted the Gniezno Doors on a wall, i.e. St. Wojciech's hagiography. And there was an older colleague, who was also a church practitioner, Mr. Adolf Zdziarski. A small, balding, with a moustache, truculent, who said so: The Reverend, our dear little tomato, so nice, so good, and so fat. What to do with him to speed up his metabolism? So I said, OK, but nothing stupid. No, no, just an innocent little prank. And the next day the priest was indeed altered. Didn't show up for lunch, didn't show up for dinner. One day and the other he's walking around the church, so anxious, watching everything. Reading the breviary, tough, and so on. He missed lunch again. When nothing had changed on the third day, we said: listen, Tolek, get it straight with the Reverend today, otherwise you'll have to leave. It can't be like that any longer, everything, everyday was so cool and nice. And now the Reverend’s somewhat restless. But I haven't done anything like that. All the same, we do not want such an atmosphere here. OK. The next day the priest comes to lunch with two bottles of wine and says: Professor, I was supposed to get hit by stroke. And I say: Dear Rector, we've told Tolek today that if he wouldn't get this straight with you, he would have to leave, because we don't want to work in such an atmosphere. We see that the Reverend is somehow worried and restless. Worried... restless... It's worse than that, haven’t you said that I didn't know what was going with me for these three days. But what's happened? And do you imagine, he came to me and said: Dear Rector, I'm very sorry, but you better check everything whatever we paint here in your church, because otherwise it may happen that when the Bishop comes to consecrate it he'll refuse it. I got scared, so asked what had happened so dreadful. And he said, nothing hopefully, we all do our best to paint the church so you will be satisfied. But we might unwittingly paint something... uncatholic. How might you... uncatholic? The Reverend understands that Dobrzański and Nowosielski are schismatics, Bieńkowski is a Protestant, Kurcz is a Calvinist, Leski is an atheist at all, Helenka does'nt know herself who she is, etc. I'm the only proper Roman Catholic here, but I know the least what should be painted in a church. So you can imagine what is my position now. I'm checking everything, and everything seems very well to me, but who knows? So that's what has happened.

 

And after Trzebowisko, where did you do stained glass windows?

 

AS-D: Most of them I made in Zawiercie. There is a huge neo-Gothic church, and I made 36 large windows. I was working a few years there, there was Rev. Bogucki. And there was also such a funny encounter. Everywhere was so. Comes the prelate and says: Professor, I would like to hold a meeting on Sunday. You, Gentlemen, and the parish committee, because there are some uncertainties and disagreements in the committee so I want you to meet them, because I could not answer all of them myself. And they would like to voice their wishes somehow, etc. Even if the design has been approved by the curia and it all seems appropriate to me. But I'd like to meet them to cut it short. OK, Rector. Sunday, after the mass, a large catechetic classroom, huge table covered with a cloth. On one side painters have come, there were thirteen of us. On the other side the committee, nearly as many. When everybody had taken their seats, the Rector raised and said: Thank you very much, Dear Artists, for coming, and please talk with the committee. Please listen patiently, perhaps some of our wishes are inappropriate, but if something will be possible, please be so kind as to consider what the parishioners would wish to have, or explain what's the matter. I stood up and said, that, Dear Rector, we shall most willingly listen to everything, we feel very good here, Dear Rector is so unanimous with us, and whenever there were any questions in the past, the Rector was always unanimous. We strive to serve this parish as much as we can. And if here are any uncertainties, you are very much welcome, and I'll answer everything immediately. And then silence fell, for quite a while. After the while stood up an elderly gentleman, his name was Pasierbiniski, a pharmacist, and turned to his neighbour, a strongly built fellow, saying this: All right, go ahead, we have all met because of you, lunch is waiting, Dear Engineer. Speak up . So Mr. Engineer cleared his throat and said: Gentlemen, how much varnish do you add to your paints. And I said, Dear Engineer, we don't add varnish to our paints at all. And then he looked around triumphantly to all gathered and said: Now you can see for yourself, we are not meeting here in vain, it's even worse than I guessed. And I said, Dear Engineer, if this is the matter, we shall add as much varnish as you wish. We shall buy the varnish from Mr. Pasierbiński's pharmacy, but then I won't be responsible for how long this painting will last. What? I just won't be responsible, because I don't know how to paint with varnish. So how are you going to paint? I said, what do you mean «how»? Well, for how long do you guarantee that such painting will last? I said, I guarantee it for one hundred years. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid that these gentlemen's attitude is not serious, I'm seriously asking, for how long do you guarantee? As I said, Dear Engineer, I guarantee for one hundred years, provided, of course, that nobody hurts this plaster physically. The painting shall stay as long as will the plaster, and the plaster in Zawiercie is very well made. No, no, you must be joking, who will check it, who will live long enough? And I said, well our children, or grandchildren, will check. No, no Gentlemen, you can't do like this. I said, would you mind my asking what is your discipline, Engineer? And then Mr. Pasierbiński said: Sanitation. Very well then, Engineer, you must have noticed that in a place called WC there is always an oil paint wainscot. Yes, exactly, because it's strong. But have you also noticed that if someone strips this oil paint off, then the plaster beneath is rotten and it runs like fine sand? What does it mean? Well, it means that if I had painted the church with an oil paint, then the church would soon lose its plaster and the painting would fall down with it. And I wouldn't guarantee it for more than two years. But in the first place, I wouldn't take this job at all. And then again Mr. Pasierbiński said: Why are we arguing? Mr. Barrister, you are here with us, should we agree if the artists guaranteed their work's durability according to standards of the law? The lawyer said, sure, of course. So could you find out for how long? I said that I didn't know, I hadn't read this law now, but we'd very eagerly a’priori agree. But I only had to tell you one thing. A while ago, a few days ago, a priest from Myszków, from a neighbouring parish, came for advise what to do, because a painting was flaking, what does it mean? Flaking, peeling off in flakes. But why? Well, because they not only had painted the church with oil paints, but also had varnished it, so it couldn't last even two years. But I do agree, I guarantee that the painting we are going to make will last as long as the law requires, etc. And the lawyer is flipping through some papers. Flipping through the papers, and then he said that it was the building law. And Mr. Pasierbiński, an elderly gentleman, so impulsive, says: Can't you read what's written in there? And he says: Well, here is a two year guarantee. So I say, well, Ladies and Gentlemen. It's up to you, you may have it guaranteed for two years as per the law, or for one hundred years as per my law, but without adding varnish. So, gentlemen, what do you want? And then Mr. Pasierbiński said: Well, but why no one of you, Gentlemen, who are gathered here, speaks up? And one of them says: Because it's such an idle talk, about nothing. So then Mr. Pasierbiński says this: Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I think that we have fixed this thing perfectly well. The gentlemen here do agree to add varnish and buy it from me, so I'll make a profit. Only they don't guarantee that the painting will last any longer than the law requires. While if they painted like they want, they guarantee that even our children and grandchildren would watch the paintings. Well, but I reckon that it will be best after all to take the risk and let them paint their way.

 

And in Nysa, how many windows did you make?

 

AS-D: In Nysa there were three windows in the choir, the largest windows I've ever made, 12.5 m high, like a four-storey town house. These three windows' area was 106 square meters, and there was also a small chapel with one window. There were scenes from the life of Our Lady, because that's Our Lady's chapel. And in those three large windows, starting from the Old Testament, I made lines of prophets, followed by lines of apostles, lines of Polish saints, and emblems of Polish regions. And that cathedral is very beautiful, built in the 14th century. There were none, so to say, funny «qui pro quos». But there was a moment, one might say serious, that when we were setting the windows up it turned out that the apostle Thomas, and other two or three spots would require correction. That sodium-coloured blue glasses should be replaced. They become lighter when seen from a distance, while lead oxide-coloured red glass becomes darker, which results in contrasts that couldn't be seen before in the studio. In a studio you look from a mere few meters at something, which is later watched from as many as 30 meters. What's more, windows look at the clear sky, so some unexpected effects appear and final adjustments have to be made. So we asked the priest to keep the scaffolding. That we would go to Krakow right away, that we know the relevant patterns, I would only make a note, which ones were concerned. Mr. Ryniewicz would cut another glass panes of different colour, would patinate them and we would come here at no extra cost, Dear Rector. But the Reverend said: Gentlemen, these are so small things, who will see them, I've already promised to return the scaffolding, they will dismantle it now. It's not even that I have to pay a daily rent for this scaffolding, but this is so beautiful, that no error can be seen. And then I allowed myself an answer to the Rector, a bit... well... inelegant. OK, we don't, but I suppose that angels do know what's wrong, and they understand that those botchers, who have done it, do know what's deficient. But it didn't work, the scaffolding was dismantled, and those glasses still wait for correction.

 

Was it there in Nysa, that angel head which went all the way to Australia, where they 'plagiarised it?

 

AS-D: Yes, that was the head of the Angel from the Old Testament's «Holy Trinity». That very angel was reproduced in this elegant magazine «Poland» that flew through the world on board of Polish aircrafts. And that's how it got to Australia. And there somebody made the angel a trademark of great fashion shows. A Polish consul wrote that it was illegal, that they couldn’t do it without identifying the author and without the author's consent, and that he must draw consequences from this, sue them, and that they must pay for it. I responded to the Consul that I cannot sue them from such a distance. But if he feels like doing it, all right, I authorise him, and whatever money might be won should be spend for Poles in Australia.

 

Did you have any exhibitions?

 

AS-D I had three, perhaps four, individual exhibitions. Two in Krakow, one in Przemyśl, and the last one was in Katowice, and that exhibition was closed after the first day, and its catalogue was busted. They said that they would not publish a prayer book. Then I wanted to buy the catalogue in Warsaw, as scrap paper. In Warsaw at the BWA Art Exhibitions Bureau they didn't even know that there was such an exhibition at all, although I showed them the catalogue, which I couldn’t print myself, because there was written on its cover: Union of Visual Artists of the Society of Fine Art Lovers and the Central Art Exhibitions Bureau. But I've got only two copies of the catalogue that a colleague took by accident with him.

 

And where have you learned that stained glass came to us from Azerbaijan?

 

ASD: From a painter from Azerbaijan, who came here once with a group of Russian painters to visit the Union of Polish Artists, and I guided them. And he told me in detail, showed me the data, the years when they already were making stained glass there. Then in Europe we didn't even dream about it yet. He told also how stained-glass reached Europe via North Africa and Spain, and how it flourished in France and came to Germany, and from Germany to Poland. And the other branch went through the Balkan and was even in Russia. But here was such a turmoil that the glass hasn't survived. In the West they didn't let to break their windows so often.

 

And did you talk about the stained glass making technology too?

 

AS-D: Yes, I told him that you have to hold every such piece of glass about 10 times in your hand, first to select colour, then to apply template, to cut out, then to set all of them in a whole window. And then again to check if everything fits together, to draw graphics, to fire the glass in a furnace, to patinate it, and to burn again, to check again, and only then to set — and to check once again.

 

OK, but what does it exactly mean «to patinate»?

 

AS-D: If you want to get shadows, then you furnish the glass with a patina, and then you rub the light out, like in a negative.

 

And do you draw before patinating?

 

AS-D: Yes, you draw graphics, a drawing, and you separately fire it the first time. Or, if graphics are made accurately, not too thickly, and well, so no patina shall wash it out, then you may fire it only once.


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