An artificer defying classification or categorization, trend-wise, in world art. One of the world's most outstanding impudent artists Władysław Hasior departed on a warm July night. Forever..
I met him fifteen year ago, on the eve of his moving from the "Kenerowka" villa to the new imposing gallery. His old lair was called a villa only for show. The tottering highlander's hut was a terribly junked-up abode. There was no separation here of living and workshop areas. In the middle of the so called large room reigned a plush-cover couch of huge proportion. It was here that the artist use to sit his guests, with whom he was unusually candid and open. It was to have been a routine interview. Instead, in the company of a bottle of his beloved red wine, we talked till dawn. We talked about life and art. About his banners and numerous romantic affairs. He didn't hold back anything. The following morning came the famous move to the new gallery, so long in building. There were crowds. Radio, TV, journalists with his friend the editor Bialy in the vanguard. The youth of Zakopane formed a procession bearing his banners, his other works, the little altars, and so too the iconoclastic tatters of human existence. It was moving and sublime. Hasior was then really happy, for it was his mystrium. In the new gallery he singled me out to show me, as the first, the secret passage and spy hole through which he could watch unobserved the gallery and its visitors. It was a great experience. The fluttering banners against the panorama of Polish mountains, the songs and the highland band. Happiness and emotion. Unrepeatable.
The critics and the public taunted him often that he toadied to the communists. That to their glory he created his fire birds. But he extolled life. The war burdened him enormously, so on the piles of scrap iron he placed the tatters of humanity. He liked to show scarred reality. He was difficult and impudent. It was not easy or pleasant. But no one was indifferent to his work. For Hasior constantly provoked, overpowered, compelled reflection. He was interested in everything that took place around him. He skillfully combined Polish culture, its traditions with pagan ways. There were thus holy Christian images and pagan idols. He collected on overgrown paths and roads the oddest "wonders." He search junk-piles for old, deformed, useless items. And he created from them a different, a little magical and a little twisted world. His monstrous banners assembled within them the beauty and esthetic of his art. It was these that symbolized the greatness and pride of the artist in his art and motherland. He always looked upon them with emotion and personal pride. Hasior's oeuvre is a portrait of his innermost , the conditions of his mind and soul. Creations that were uneasy and not always beautiful. But great and unique. He frequently would say of himself: I am but a ordinary tinkerer, I like to putt around and create something from nothing. The Academy of Fine Arts gave me just a diploma. And what I make and create comes from my hands and mind. I am a tinkerer-craftsman. That he was great, his life attested, even in its humility. He attached no importance to the accolades of this world. His needs were satisfied by a denim suit and a bottle of red wine. He parted unwillingly with his creations. But he had to sell them, to survive.
He followed his own path
He was resistant to trends and fashions. He didn't surrender to rules in his work or his life. He was a nonconformist in life and his work. He sought the truth. He opened himself up and shut himself. He was able to skillfully combine beauty and ugliness. The subjects of his work were human dramas, lameness and deviations. He created by provoking. He annoyed, but as if unknowingly, He was simply impudent. And the world frequently would label him a scandalizer. In 1990 they would not permit him to organize an exhibition in Warsaw's Zacheta gallery. A that for the artist became his life's greatest artistic and personal setback. He lived among people but felt lonely. After his heart attack, part of his friends distanced themselves from him. He was happy when visitors came to the gallery. He watched them through the spy hole, then he would come out and chat for hours.
The illness was pitiless in its effects on him. On the ward of the Krakow hospital he found peace, help and consolation. He departed during a warm July night. The urn with the great artist's ashes returned to the gallery enveloped in white lilies and blue morning glories. There his friends and admirers of his art bid him farewell. He rests in an old Zakopane cemetery besides the great and the outstanding. And near Czorsztyn on the day of his funeral his controversial and now much corroded firebirds blazed once more.
August 3rd, 1999
trans. Peter K. Gessner
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