February 10th was the opening of the International Japanese/Polish Print Exhibition at the Rondo Gallery in Katowice, Poland. This excellent exhibition first opened in 2010 at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and then at the Shimane Art Museum. The Krakow International Print Triennial Committee selected 83 prints from 32 Polish artists to participate in the exhibition along with the Japanese printmakers. Approximately 110 artists were represented in the exhibition.
I took the train to Katowice for the opening of the exhibition, it is about a 3 hour ride. It was nice to see the effects of our recent cold spell when temperatures ranged from -5F at night to +5F during the day. There was not a lot of snow but all the rivers were frozen and the ducks and swans didn’t look very happy. The train however was nice and warm.
Katowice is in the heart of the Polish coal mining region. Consequently most people heat their homes with coal. Since the weather was so cold and there was no wind the evenings were veiled in a smog of coal stove fumes. It gave the evening a surreal aspect with buildings, people and busses disappearing into the haze. Fortunately we were inside most of the time.
I met with old friends from the Katowice Academy of Fine Art for the opening. I have known Grzegorz Handerek and Andrzej Labus for a number of years and both are excellent award winning printmakers. They graciously invited me for the official dinner after the opening and I had a chance to talk with the Katowice Academy of Fine Art Rector, Prof. Marian Oslislo, Director of the Krakow International Print Triennial Prof. Jan Pamula and the Japanese organizer of the exhibition who is also a well known printmaker, Akira Kurosaki.
Strangely enough Akira and I had crossed paths in Seattle years ago. I was the Assistant for Prof. Glen Alps when I was a graduate student at the University of Washington. Mr. Kurosaki was invited by Glen Alps to provide a workshop in Japanese woodcut techniques. We didn’t meet in Seattle but it was very strange to meet on the other side of the world (for both of us) in Katowice, Poland
I became somewhat familiar with Japanese culture during my philosophical studies of eastern thought at the University of Toledo. Many Japanese approach their art in a very focused Zen-like manner resulting in highly elegant works. I share these ideals and try to stay centered when working on my own art.
There were many beautiful woodcuts, linocuts, etchings and lithographs in this exhibition. I have appreciated Japanese printmaking for many years and Japanese aesthetic philosophy has been an inspiration to me. I feel fortunate to have been able to take part in this beautiful exhibition.