Andrzej Gudanski - Poland's Premier Painter
A Review by Dr Janina Ramirez, University of Oxford - 30th Nov 2023
My journey of discovery into the work of Andrzej Gudanski began when I was searching
for a 70th birthday present for my mother. Born in the UK to Polish parents, her
connections to the motherland remain strong, and as a family we cherish our Polish roots. I
knew her present had to be something extraordinary which made her feel tied to Poland.
She is a trained artist herself, having studied at Goldsmiths, and has particular taste when it
comes to art. She revels in bold colours and compositions inspired by Polish folk art. As an
art historian myself, I wanted to find something timeless which would appeal to her, and
began my research into Poland's finest artists. As I scrolled through images by Zak,
Dobrowolski, Brandt and more, nothing captured me. Then I landed on Gudanski's site.
I was hooked. It was the colours that grabbed me first - like a stained glass window of
contrasts - but as I looked further I realised there was a passion and energy in his images,
the like of which I have only encountered rarely. At times he crowds the canvas, unsettling
the viewer by drawing them into the composition. Other times he is sparing, leaving space
for just a pair of abstracted faces or a flash of yellow. There is such humour in some of his
compositions, with larger-than-life characters engaged in dynamic, exciting activities. But
there is also a longing and sensitivity, a pain that reflects a turbulent life experienced against
the backdrop of Poland's rapidly changing history.
Clearly inspired by Picasso and cubism, Gudanski brings a unique approach which revels in
the human form, and the face as the vehicle for expressing the inexpressible. His figures are
in turn static and dignified, cartoonish and entertaining, graceful and fluid. He uses colour to
bring different emotions to the fore with such aplomb and one cannot help but feel moved
by his work. Gudanski is an artist who invites the viewer to be a participant in his art.
Narratives are not imposed and we are encouraged to find our own stories in the works he
produces. Needless to say, my mother was reduced to tears when I gave her a print of
Gudanski's as her birthday present. It hangs in pride of place in her home. Yet my
obsession with the artist continues to grow. I could happily fill my house with his artworks.
They bring joy and reflection in equal measures. He is a truly great artist who deserves to be
remembered as one of Poland's premier painters.