To see while looking. An icon.

Is the concept of the image exhausted? After art has questioned itself, does this basic term in painting mean anything authentic in the present reality? I feel that there is some deeper layer in referring to the concept of eikon and a sort of fashion for icons. People need the image. But what sort of image do they need?

The content of an icon combines experiences of human spirituality and corporality. It has preserved a complete representation of reality that was otherwise lost by Western art, as it explored only extracted fragments of reality – unfortunately paying a price in a certain fossilisation of forms. The language of icons became partly impossible to understand, partly it acquired new meaning in terms of its media of expression. Human awareness has evolved partly due to experiencing Western art, while the East remained blind to this fact and continued to treat counterpart painting as if it had gone astray. Was it right to do so?

I find the fragments of icons extracted and developed by Western art to be parts of a modified reality that don’t contradict themselves. I believe the icon needs the experience of Western art, and what the West needs is to integrate this experience. Is it possible to meet half-way like this? The attempts made so far have not given great cause for optimism and seemed unfavourable, particularly to icons. No wonder if they were made locally, accompanied by great unawareness on both sides (e.g. the Carpathian workshop icon and provincial Western painting). In my opinion these attempts were not entirely futile, yet they have usually received rather negative response both from art historians and from Eastern theologians.

Regarded within such a context, Nowosielski’s works seem to be the first consciously taken step toward the union of both sides. Is this a utopia? Did God really confuse our languages? Do we want to believe in this?

Is referring to the reality of the icon today like galvanizing a corpse? Is Western art really satanic? I found these opinions much exaggerated reflections of internal fears on both sides. Why do iconographers paint the icon of Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor as the first? The information about the necessity of seeing the truth and the light in the dark is carried by tradition. Jerzy Nowosielski, however, underlined many times how up to date the icon of Christ’s crucifixion was, possibly out of trust that consent to go through the dark would bring a joyful morning.

In order to unite consciously one needs to experience both Mount Tabor and the crucifixion; not globally, though, but rather individually and internally in each and every one of us. Save yourself, and then thousands around you will be saved. What we need is a mirror and love. And we can have it.


I don’t understand Nowosielski and I don’t know if it is at all possible to. I doubt if he understood himself, either – probably like most of us. What I understand is that experiencing art allows one to come closer to oneself, and that this is a trip into the dark (not necessarily pleasant, to be honest; and often tragic, as proven by history).

I must have wanted to survive instinctively. I looked for the possibility of going through the tunnel – from the darkness into the light. I was looking for a convention and I did find it. What I owe to Nowosielski is finding my freedom in this very convention, and the conviction that I neither need to be an individual, nor to paint nothing but brilliant paintings; neither should I voice elaborate theories, nor should I be ashamed of village work …I appreciate him for his brave way of speaking out his own intuition, and opening every single door, even if there was nothing but (painful) absurdity behind it. I appreciate him for allowing me to verify the meaning of the word authority.

Even if full of doubt, no doubt you mature in contact with Nowosielski’s art. There is no doubt.

Greta Leśko, lipiec’2018