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From June 26 until October 2 we would like to invite you to the Władysław Hasior Gallery for an exhibition of works by Grzegorz Pecuch, a well-known sculptor from Zakopane – Grzegorz Pecuch. You will be able to see works from the Tatra Museum collection, as well as pieces from a private collection that are exhibited here in public for the first time.


With me it all starts with fingers and eyes. First I examine a piece of wood for a really long time. I feel and I observe, I familiarize myself  with it. It convinces me of something, and I do it. Will it listen to me? Because if I underestimated it, I’d be a criminal.

During the interwar period (1918-1939), Zakopane's School of Woodcrafts was famous for its high level of education and unusual teaching methods. Instead of working with clay models, they would emphasize freeing the creative potential of pupils. In the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to Antoni Kenar (a graduate and teacher of the school), a new chapter in the school’s history started. This new chapter was led by Kenar and his pupils who included Stanisław Kulon, Antoni Słonina, Antoni Rząsa, Władysław Hasior and Grzegorz Pecuch. Kenar told his pupils that he would not teach them how to create but how to think.

Looking back at the works of Kenar’s pupils, one can find many common denominators. Whatever theme they would find for their work, materials were chosen with intuition and precision. Kenar taught them how to use the qualities of the material, how to use the experience withheld inside a man, how to translate it into the language of a sculpture.

Grzegorz Pecuch (1923-2008) originated from Florynka, near Nowy Sącz. He was admitted to the Zakopane school in 1946. He graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts where he trained at Marian Wnuk’s workshop. Later, like Hasior and Rząsa, he worked as a sculpture teacher at the State School of Art Techniques in Zakopane (1955-1976). He would say: Since my earliest days, I have been interested in sculpture. My first, though still quite inept, sculptures came to life while I was grazing cows.

The exhibition shows a selection of works from a private collection, as well as the Tatra Museum collection. From among many preserved sculptures, few were selected that refer to nature in the material – most of them were done in wood – as well as in the theme. This choice is a result of the interpretation of the artist’s words – he thought that they [sculptures] were born earlier, somewhere in the forest, in the wind and in the sun. The power of rushing air, warmth and frost shape the growing tree […]. It’s not a sculpture yet, but I can already see it. It is in the wood and it awaits my hands.

For Grzegorz Pecuch, working with a piece of wood wasn’t only tooling a material until you get the desired shape. It was an act of creation, prolonging the wood’s lifespan and giving it more meaning.

Am I killing the wood? This piece of pearwood that I’ve carved a horsey out of, is alive […], I gave it immortality, because even if any misfortune happens to it, the photograph will survive […]. Therefore, I have prolonged the life of the pearwood. I told it to mean something more than it has meant. How it needs to live it’s old life and mine as well.

 We invite you to a forest, the forest of the artist’s imagination, where different species of wood and animals live in harmony. Grzegorz Pecuch said he wanted to talk and sculpt life and energy. His works are an interesting counterpoint for the collection of Władysław Hasior’s work exhibited at the Gallery – in his works the material plays the main role and also tells us an entirely different story.

Julita Dembowska

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Translated & edited by: Joanna Holzman, Adrian Smith, Anna Wende-Surmiak