Monika Malkowska’s review of my exhibition at Galeria Milano in 1991

I came across this place in the autumn: the bar “Milano” has been transformed into a sales gallery of the same name. The art presented here is more ambitious than in most commercial showrooms. Coffee. Served to guests by the manager. “Milana” is much tastier than the lura. served in the café in the past. And the vernissages are held in an almost family atmosphere. On Tuesday 8 January, the silver jewellery was cleared out of the display cases in the showcase just after 7 p.m.. The drawer cupboard full of artwork was covered with a pink tablecloth. exactly the same “angry” shade. in which the column occupying the centre of the room was painted. Cocktail glasses were placed on this improvised “reception table”.

At quarter to six, the gallery manager. Elżbieta Kochanek touched up her make-up and at that moment everything was ready for the guests. A large group of them had arrived.

The opening of an exhibition of paintings, watercolours, drawings and objects by Jan Niksinski was being celebrated. The author was also present. He opened the exhibition with an extensive speech. in which he laid out his artistic philosophy to those gathered.

I was pleased to learn how Niksinski, an artist who is almost unknown in Polish circles but who is quite successful in his neighbours across the western border, comments on his own art. His works appealed to me even in reproductions, his curriculum vitae also made me curious. The thirty-nine-year-old painter received a thorough education: a diploma with honours from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, before which he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and then at the Akademie für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna. Since 1981, he has worked with experimental theatre in Vienna. In 1982, he was an assistant at the Sommerakademie in Salzburg.

In Warsaw, the first and, until the current show, the last presentation was from 1979. at the MPiK Gallery “Ściana Wschodnia” Niksiński’s original works, created over the last few years, attracted from a distance with their subtle, subdued colours and metaphorical, although abstract, form. When viewed up close, they drew the viewer in with the surprising technical tricks the artist has employed.

The multi-layered paintings have the rigour of simple. often geometric shapes:-nourished by rich and varied textures. Into the orderly ‘technical’ world intrudes biological matter, subject to the constant transformations imposed by the passage of time. The resistance of stones. Appearing both literally and illusorily in Niksiński’s compositions, it makes us aware of the fragility of other natural entities. The artist deftly balances between allusions to reality and its imaginary image Privately, he calls his, as he says, repeated debut show “The Mystery of Death” But he immediately withdraws from the explicitness of this -interpretation. He cares about the viewer’s own associations. This is a wise attitude towards the viewer – there is no need to impose the content of the paintings on anyone. It is better to create such ambiguous forms that they inspire the imagination of others.

This is what Jan Niksiński has succeeded in doing. Whoever wants to. can convince himself by driving up to Rondo Waszyngtona. where he will easily find the “Milano” gallery. Whoever finds Niksinski’s art can be bought – drawings and watercolours are priced at around two million, paintings at several million zlotys.

Anyone who likes art that avoids literalism and easy anecdotes is welcome to visit Milano.