Art creates “another reality”(1986)

Article in Salzburger Nachrichten 9.01.86 – Karl Harb / extracts

The Pole Jan Niksinski lived and worked in the guest studio of the Province of Salzburg

For some years now, the province has had a guest studio in the Salzburg Künstlerhaus. Artists from all countries can live and work here under favourable conditions. Robert Kritzer from the cultural department would now like to look for new perspectives, the most important of which are encounters and exchanges. Getting to know each other helps to improve understanding and opens up opportunities for Salzburg artists to make contacts. The dates for 1988 are fully booked. The guest studio will be occupied by Peter Coler, Wintried Muthesius, Rolf Viva, Peter Poncratz (who is to work for the Rupertinum), F; M. R. Ringel; Hubert Aratym- (at the request of the Minister of Education), Hans Weyrmeer (who is thus redeeming the audience award he won at the Faistauer Prize in 1983), artists from the GDR and Trento as well as the Australian George Foxhill from Salzburg. The last guest of 1985 is just packing his bags: Jan Niksinski, a Polish painter and graphic artist,

Jan Niksinski, a Polish painter and graphic artist who worked as an assistant to Rudolf Hradil’s class at the Summer Academy four years ago, was able to work here in peace, as he assured the SN in a conversation, which he appreciated and needed as a meticulous visual designer. Trained as an artist and teacher in Gdansk and Warsaw, he has created many book illustrations (and his works have been published by Ueberreuter Verlag, among others). His encounter with literature has always had a formative influence on his pictures, even beyond the specific literary context. Niksinski sees art as an opportunity to tell stories by transforming given material (such as photographs) with his own means. When asked about his “bread and butter” profession, the artist says that in Poland the genre of book illustration respects the respective personal artistic level, in contrast to our latitudes, for example, where the “commercial graphic” element (“colourful and realistic”) is still very much to the fore.

Niksinski’s pictures should all bear a personal signature, resulting from the “tension between realistic thinking and emotion. Individuality is the most prominent feature of Polish art today, in which young people in particular are increasingly interested. Nevertheless, literature, music and theatre have a higher status because access to these genres is also very cheap. A standing-room ticket costs “almost nothing”

I ask Jan Niksinski whether art is political for him. He denies that art has to “create a different reality”. Art begins where reality ends, he says, it is “not a documentation of the world”. Starting from concrete things, art, artistic creation, changes the real through a chain of associations. Stylistically, one could speak of “abstract symbolism”, but Niksinski rejects this. So here, too, an individual trait.

Karl Herb