henryk waniek

︎Artist, Painting, Surreal   
︎ Ventral Is Golden

"I am considered to be a painter of magic. Magic depicts the world in symbols."

Hailing from the surreal folklore traditions of Eastern Europe, Waniek draws upon motifs consistent to the world of alchemy. Portraying mirco and macrocosm in alembics and distilling landscapes through luminous veils of supernatural geometry.

As an art critic, essayist and prose writer, but principally known as an painter, Waniek diversified his artistic discipline to encompass his far reaching interest in magic and the occult.

He composes symmetrical and concentric pictures from the traditional symbols of magic: windows, chalices, ladders, devils, rainbows, shooting stars. These pictures link geographical realities and spheres of human interest like a map; his essays can also be considered as maps of spiritual space that are clothed in words.

There is a kind of sublime uneasiness to the surrealism that emanated from Eastern Europe post WW2. In artists such as Rafal Olbinski and Piotr Kamler, their magical perspectives rise to the surface and float above the murk of spiritual and economic catastrophe brought about by war-time and social unrest. It is a great example of how the human spirit endeavours through great turmoil for no other reason than to communicate ideas of ‘the spirit’, in direct opposition to the flatness of Socialist Realism. Another example of how creativity had to findm more novel ways of growing through the cracks of imposed social order were The Bone Records of Soviet Russia - where bootlegged Jazz records from American artists were recorded onto disgarded xrays. The surrealism of eastern europe from the 1940’s onwards, “became a universal language of the region’s visual arts, expressing the emotions of local intellectual elites observing the collapse of the old order, the drawing of the Iron Curtain, and trying to imagine a utopia somewhat different than the one installed with the help of Soviet tanks.” - Aspen Review

Further Reading ︎

Surrealism Rules Eternal, Aspen Review
Surrealism in Central and Eastern Europe, 1940’s
Book Institute, Bio
Bone Records