Sunday, September 06, 2009

Work of Jerzy Duda-Gracz

This art dates from 1970s, it is a cynical reflection on Socialist-Liberal "paradise" that all Poles were lead to believe they lived in. Obviously Duda-Gracz would not be a fan of Chavez. Anyway, he made a lot of people pissed, especially in the Party.
P.S. I working on some inks now, I'm not really sure when they'll be finished, I'll post something new as soon as I can.


Robert Adam Gilmour said...

It's really great work,, I've always wondered how the process works when good artists tackle politics,, because whenever I attempted doing it,,, it never felt right. I wonder how they ballance the message with the beauty of the shapes and colors.

Aeron said...

Incredible paintings. There's a grit and tactile filth about them, like an ugly dream.

Human Mollusk said...

Yeah really nice art!
It seems that you're projecting a lot of your own opinion into it though. I think it's safe to say that Polish socialism was far from liberal. Also, I don't know about about Duda-Gracz' political views, but many social critics within former communist /socialist countries were in fact socialists themselves who felt that the system had gone horribly wrong. You would have to present stronger evidence as to what he actually thought. And bringing Chavez into it is a bit of a stretch.

Looking forward to seeing your new drawings!

MD Encolpius said...

Well FuFu, I just re-read what I wrote, and it seems to me that my post is not as inflammatory as your comment- which is what I make it out to be. So let me break this down for you. No.1 - I was born and lived in Poland at the time of Communism, also known as Russian Occupation. My father actually fled during the period of martial law. The reason I say this, is to point out that I am very familiar with the context in which Duda-Gracz was making his art. Since I, unlike you, was a genuine physical part of it. No.2 - It seems, to me, that you pointed out 2 words, starting with liberal. It's understood that a socialist-liberal paradise was really no such thing.(The same as, say in 1984, the Ministry of Truth was everything but.) However, the word liberal in this context is correct. Because, keep in mind it was put up against the ancient conservative Roman Catholic Church. Which, before the war (part of the bigger picture) had supported the wealthy land owners. You see, in the new socialist-liberal paradise a peasant could live in an apartment in Warsaw next to a once-land-owner. Also, you say that there were socialists that criticized the party, but what you forget to acknowledge is that fundamentally there was only 1party- everyone was a socialist. And again you generalize that all the socialist countries as if they were one. But that is not true, you see, Czech was very different from Poland and East Germany. And those differences were always dictated by Moscow. I hope I'm at least convincing you why I'm not going out of my way proving that his artwork is cynical, because for me it is just simply understood. As far as the second word- Chavez, who is a neo-communist (next generation), that's just simply connecting dots with today's audience. And the fact that if you lived like I did under socialism you know he can stick his "helping the people" up his ass. In closing, I think that Duda-Gracz presented a very sophisticated look on his society, which lacked that sort of brute simplicity say of the "Puck movement"- which worked so well in the west. So frankly, I find it weird that I even have to explain myself to someone who has a third-hand experience, or at least understanding, with the world I came from.
P.S. I really don't want this to come off too heated, but political correctness gets to me and I feel that's what your comment represented.

Human Mollusk said...

Oh dear. "Don't mention the war."

Sorry if my comment came off as inflammatory. It wasn't meant to be. Perhaps I read too much into what you wrote. As for the "socialist-liberal paradise" part, I may have misunderstood what you were saying. In the context of retarded way those words are often used to create hyperbolic scare scenarios in contemporary political discourse, it just rubbed me the wrong way when you only put the word "paradise" in inverted commas, for it sounded as if you were suggesting the system was effectively liberal-socialist but the "paradise" part was an illusion, whereas now you make it sound like the entire three words were only deception, which I would agree with. My impression was fortified by your bringing up of Chavez (the standard left-wing bogeyman nowadays) right after. You seemed to have strong opinions about him, otherwise why bring him up?
So I took your post to be more about your own opinions than about Duda-Gracz'. Apologies if I was mistaken.

If that's the case I have to say that I'm surprised by your angry reply though. I'm sure you know more about Polish history than I do, having a Polish background and all (BTW how old were you when you left? did your dad leave before you?), but what you wrote so far (rather patronizingly) is really common knowledge. Also, being personally affected by a given topic doesn't warrant one's perspective to be unbiased, in fact, it increases the likelyhood of it not being so.
I never said all countries of the Eastern Bloc were the same (in fact, I'm well aware of the differences), all I said is there were critics from within who still believed in socialist ideals. I don't see why this can't be true for Poland as well as other countries. And how does the fact that there was only one party mean you couldn't secretly be nationalist, capitalist, fascist or whatnot?It was certainly the case under the Nazis in Germany. I agree that Duda-Gracz' work transports a cynical view on Polish society under Socialism, but you know what they say: A cynic is just a disappointed idealist.

Only to be clear: I'm not particularly keen on Chavez (self-aggrandizing leader figures make me suspicious) but I don't think the situation in Venezuela today is the same as it was beyond the Iron Curtain 30 years ago, and merits a more careful analysis than just "connecting the dots" in this straight-forward manner. Ironically a Venezuelan, using your own argument, could just as well say: "What do you know about Chavez, you don't even live here."

I have no idea what Duda-Gracz political views were, and it would be really interesting to learn more about them. His paintings are quite obscure and not easy to interpret (at least for a Non-Pole, most likely a result of censorship making any outspoken criticism impossible (so much for liberal).
My post had nothing to do with political correctness, but was merely a demand for intellectual honesty. In a post like yours I expect information about an artist and maybe also about one's own political views, but only suggesting the former while in fact supplying the latter is not very interesting, which I had the impression was what you were doing. Perhaps I was completely wrong, in which case, once again, I apologize.

P.S. What's the "Puck movement"?

MD Encolpius said...

It's all good. Look dude, I think I'm pretty honest, I can tell you right now when it comes to some things I am very bias. And this is one of them. And I am fine with that. I simply believe that I am right. And I don't see a reason to over intellectualize this by taking what I wrote completely apart and applying reverse logic to the Chavez/Venezuelan comment. So I think we should just drop this. Opposed to our mutual interest in art, this is of no importance at all.
P.S. I meant Punk movement.

Human Mollusk said...


Human Mollusk said...

RE: Puck movement
Ha! I seriously googled for about 20 minutes trying to find out more about this mysterious art movement I had never heard about. Thought it had to have something to do with the character from A Midsummer Night's Dream.