Who is Janina Węgrzynowska?

We kindly invite you to the exhibition "Who is Janina Wegrzynowska", organized in cooperation with Studio Gallery and bwa City Gallery in Bydgoszcz.

Opening: February 9, 6:00-8:00 pm

The exhibition will be open until April 29 (we invite you by appointment)

Foksal 11/4 Warsaw

For several years, the Arton Foundation has focused on presenting women artists who were active in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Their works and biographies are fascinating, but each of them somehow found herself outside the art circuit. Some were never recognized by cultural institutions, while others were forgotten. Today, when we discover or recall them decades later, their work often proves inspiring, filling in one of the “missing features” of Polish art history. But why is it that so many female artists disappear from our field of vision? How many works by women are lost forever? What can we do to reverse this situation? What should we have done?

The story of Janina Węgrzynowska raises all of these questions. Her work—personal, progressive, interdisciplinary—practically never functioned within the field of art. Her name means something only to very few people. To tell her story required a whole chain of committed people.

For most of her life, the artist was tied to Warsaw. She lived in the Powiśle district, while her studio was in Wola. After her death, some of her works were moved to Lublin by a relative, Henryka Jarosławska. Then Magdalena and Ludomir Franczak got to know Węgrzynowska’s work. Fascinated by her activities and the silence surrounding her, they began to address all the facets of her legacy.

In 2021, while preparing for an exhibition of the collection of Galeria Studio in Warsaw, curator Paulina Olszewska took an interest in the op-art composition Grey and Orange Painting by Węgrzynowska, who was entirely unknown to her at the time. The curator was intrigued by the artist, about whom only scraps of information could be found, and began further researches.

In October 2022 Janina Węgrzynowska’s archive was delivered to the Arton Foundation for cataloguing. We are currently launching the digitalization of her works pursuant to the grant entitled “Hidden Visegrad Heritage: Artists’ Studios Online,” and the show now held at the foundation’s headquarters marks the inauguration of that process.

The show at the Arton Foundation presents works on paper arising in the first period of Węgrzynowska’s career, in the late 1950s and early 60s. Węgrzynowska wrote of these works: “My path in art has always been associated with movement and light. Movement, which exists continuously in space, mutually interacts with objects, in contradiction to painting, which is static by its nature. I remember that whenever I left museums I was always surprised by the contrast between the bustling street and the frozen figures in the paintings I had looked at. This feeling gave food for thought, provoking the question of what the painting of people entangled in the 20th century should look like. It was a challenge. To achieve this dynamism, in my collages from the 60s I used meandering ribbons and various forms suggestive of spatter.”

The show at the Arton Foundation is one of three devoted to Węgrzynowska planned for this year, along with exhibitions of her works through 12 March at Galeria Studio in Warsaw and from 23 March to 21 May at Galeria Miejska BWA in Bydgoszcz.

Janina Węgrzynowska (1930–2010) was a painter and graphic artist, a member of theAssociation of Polish Artists and Designers (ZPAP), and a long-time associate of Argumenty weekly (1958–1975) and Polish Television (1975–1991). In 1949–1955 she studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, earning a diploma in 1955 from the Faculty of Painting in the studio of Prof. Eugeniusz Eibisch. She created paintings and spatial objects using elements of op-art. Her works were shown at the Festivals of Contemporary Polish Painting at the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle in Szczecin and the Exhibitions of Painting and Graphics of the Warsaw Chapter of ZPAP at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art. In 1986 she had an individual show at Galeria Arsenał in Białystok. Galeria Studio in Warsaw held an exhibition of her works in 2005 along with the laser project Drawing with Light, prepared in conjunction with the Studio of Laser Scenography and Special Lighting Effects at the Warsaw University of Technology. Her paintings are included in the collections of Galeria Studio and Galeria Arsenał.

Exhibition organized in cooperation with Galeria Studio and Galeria bwa in Bydgoszcz


Foksal 11 St. app. 4 (2nd gate, 1st. floor), open by appointment
contact:  marika.kuzmicz@fundacjaarton.pl
  Marika Kuźmicz tel. +48 502 055 130