Ilse Kersten’s at the opening of the exhibition “Images and Images” Jan Niksinski

Kleine Kellergalerie in Hannovesch Münden 23. October  2004

Dear art lovers, dear Jan!

      For many years, I successfully objected to giving speeches on my exhibitions because I believed that pictures can’t be explained, that they can only be experienced. They should speak for themselves, and words, in my opinion, spoil everything. It would have never crossed my mind that one day I would be working on a speech, that I would desire to explain another painter’s pictures to the viewer, that I would dare to take this challenge.

      I still believe that pictures cannot be explained, but I understood that an exchange of thoughts may prove useful.

      Naturally, there are criteria which are considered as objective in the world of art: composition of the picture, harmony of the colors, the golden ratio, aesthetics etc. So what? They still don’t get through to the viewer. It’s like with music: if the name of Beethoven doesn’t ring a bell, or if we don’t really like his pieces, they won’t impress us, even if played with mastery. I want to say that an objective judgement of a work of art is barely possible, because it will always be tinted with personal response.

      Jan’s pictures, which I first saw in a catalogue, moved me instantly. Bewildered, almost fearful, I noticed that he had opened some doors which usually remain closed for me when I look at modern art. Out of this bewilderment, I decided I would try to open Jan’s pictures for you, dear art lovers. I am going to do it in my own, subjective way. I now know that what Max Liebermann said was more applicable in his epoch. Because who wants to wait for the picture to speak to him today? Who tries to feel it, time and time again?

      Jan’s pictures need to be permeated, they take you to the world that has nothing in common with what’s visible. They don’t have to be “liked”, the basic means are enough – the surface, line and space of the picture, the light and the shade, the thickness, the clarity. They are built in an unsophisticated way, with simple platforms differing only in length and width. Structuring of the layout brings in subtle movement, some traces, and life to the painting’s base. Diagonals create tension, and balance, too. Curved lines and arches introduce the element of movement, or create connections. With resignation from the ornate and from effects, with explicitness and reduction to the essence, they assume the necessary character. Some of the pictures are characterized by cool severity, others – by multilayered light and spaces which infallibly suck the viewer in. Attention is captured by strong light and shade contrasts, several pictures come to life through the contrast of black and white. Contrast, weaker or stronger, is always present, its sharpness mitigated by the delicate cuts and connections with the neighboring surface. The multilayered chiaroscuro shading connects the material world to the spiritual. The shed light and transparent spots penetrate through thick and dark places, wide stretches are followed by concentrations. We encounter soothing clarity and solemnity in these works of deep internalized beauty.

      In his pictures, Jan also starts with the surface, and sticks to it, for him, it has the meaning it deserves as two-dimensional. Plasticity comes from the multi-layout play of surfaces. The applied textile elements introduce height differences, an additional tension. What results is chiaroscuro effects, in-between spaces, degrees and cracks.

      Jan resigns from sudden strong color contrasts, and from colorfulness. The explicit color message comes from the co-resonance of colors, strong and very subtly differing. In an interesting way, he uses complementary colors, and puts together cold and warm hues, thus strengthening the resonance of the picture. Red, applied in many layers, with the dark force of blue or black creates depth and invites the viewer to stop for a while. Imaginary shapes appear, transparent spots meet thick spots, and the fiery spirit of red enlivens the space of the picture. Brightness and light in concord with darkness connect All and Nothing.

      Jan’s pictures are characterized by an unending strife for perfection, searching for simplicity and truth. Considering the perfection of Creation, it is quite natural that every person carries this longing. Jan satisfies it in a very personal way, intently and sensitively. I see his pictures as spiritual works, they are inspiring, very pure and simple in their essence. These pictures have a peculiar strength. We should give in to their influence, without trying to evaluate them. Opening our souls and hearts is quite enough.