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He is one of the best known Polish contemporary composers of pop musics as well as film and theatre music. He has collaborated for years with the famous cabaret Piwnica pod Baranami. He is a graduate of both the State Music School and the Faculty of Architecture of the Krakow University of Technology (1961–1967). He began his artistic career as one of the founders of the cabaret “Anawa” together with Marek Grechuta. Some of the songs by Pawluśkiewicz have become absolute evergreens for the generations of listeners, to mention but a few compositions: Niepewność, Nie dokazuj, Świecie nasz.

J. K. Pawluśkiewicz also worked for many Polish theatres. He composed music to numerous performances at the Stary Theatre (Damy i huzary / The Ladies and The Hussars by A. Fredro directed by K. Kutz), the STU and the Ludowy (Beggar’s Opera by J. Gay directed by K. Orzechowski) Theatre in Kraków, the National Theatre (Na czworakach / On All Fours by T. Różewicz directed by K. Kutz), the Dramatyczny (Sezon w piekle / The season in Hell after Rimbaud, directed by A. Sroka) the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw . He is the co-author, together with Marek Grechuta, of the musical adaptation of texts by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz under the title Szalona lokomotywa (1977) and the opera Kur zapiał (with Wiesław Dymny’s libretto, 1980). He also made film music for several dozen short films (an Award of the 12th Festival of Short Films in Kraków, 1975) and a number of feature films directed by F. Falk, K. Kieślowski, A. Holland, W. Krzystek, J. Zaorski, T. Zygadło.

Since the 1990s the formula of Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz’s music is shifting towards the classical one. His compositions – the oratorios – were defined as “Mystery Music”. In 1992 he created Nieszpory Ludźmierskie/Vespers of Ludźmierz based on psalms written by Leszek Aleksander Moczulski. The oratorio has been performed over 100 times in Poland and abroad (also at the Polish Day during EXPO 1998 in Lisbon). In 1994 his first symphonic poem Harfy Papuszy/ Papusza’s Harps with the lyrics of the Gypsy poetess Bronisława Wajs-Papusza had its premiere at the Krakow Commons. In 1999 another oratorio Droga-Życie-Miłość (Path-Life-Love) was staged in Chorzów with libretto of L. A Moczulski, and in 2002 Ogrody Jozafata (Gardens of Jozafat) were presented, again with the Moczulski’s libretto.

Pawluśkiewicz has been awarded prizes at the Festiwal Piosenki Studenckiej (Festival of Student Song), Song Festival in Opole (1977), TV Art Festival (1992) and the Festival of the Polish Film in Gdynia. He was nominated three times for the Fryderyk award in the Classical Music and the Composer of the Year category. In 2005 he received the “Laur Krakowa”, an award for excellence in the fields of science, art and business.

In the following interview for “Dziennik Polski” daily the artist said: “I am a persistent person. This after all is the immanent feature of the highlanders tribe. This stubbornness often drives my collaborators really mad. However, I think it results from my striving for perfection. Owing to lucky circumstances I enjoy lots of freedom. I can largely control my life and do things which fascinate me. To some people this may sound like being selfcentered and selfish but to me freedom, understood as a lack of dependence, is the only way to trigger one’s great energy. Persistence and love of freedom; these two features mark me as a highlander to a degree, even though I do not wear the regional dress or dance on Saturdays to prove it”
(Dziennik Polski, 272/1995).

Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz, the distinguished Polish composer of theatre, cabaret and film music, the author of the monumental oratorios and cantatas and a pianist insists that he has been drawing all his life. The fascination started as early as at the Music School. It was a kind of “ inner dialogue, imagination cleanser”. “It's was drawing that attracted me to architectural studies but it also helped me with writing my music”.

While at the Department of Architecture of the Cracow University of Technology he developed his interest in painting, drawing, graphic art and sculpture. Later when music took up almost all of his artistic world it was through painting that he could “ master the form of the composition, find the most dramatic or lyrical elements of the piece of music, to sketch the situation – either soothing or awakening the public from lethargy. My drawings on the score were like ECG record which helped me to trace down the narrative, the story.” His first exhibition took place at the Piwnica pod Baranami premises in January 1999. The next series of paintings “ 21 Trudnych obrazków na karnawał/21 Troublesome Pictures for the Carnival” was exhibited at the Szalom gallery. Next series of paintings, drawings and prints followed :”Wędrówki po Morzu Czerwonym/ “Wandering through the Red Sea”, “Znów Wędrujemy/ On the Move Again”, “Krajobrazy/Landscapes”, “Ściany, Fakty,Ludzie/ Walls, Facts, People”,“ Podhale de Paris”, “Vive les Hieroglyphes”,”Ogród Jazafata/ Jazafat's Garden”. The artistic visions of Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz which are mostly conjured up in his dreams are both exceptionally fantastic and emotionally charged. The splashes of intense , bright colours, hundreds of dots and lines, realistic and abstract patterns of forms and colours constitute for the paintings of unique magical sound and sublime harmony. He has created a poetic universe full of joy, cheerfulness and happiness. These charming, cheerful paintings are reminiscent of his childlike enchantment with the picturesque folklore of the mountains, echo of the youthful readings and musical fascinations. They abound in humorous commentaries to the life's experience of the author. The world is inhabited by manikins with wings, wanderers, flying horses, fish, dragonflies and dragons, strange birds, crawling snakes and tortoises, flower -like trees, funny cars and bicycles, bizarre creatures and objects . All this menagerie is ceaselessly moving in a jumble from place to place.

His paintings do not only tell stories about experiences, enchantments and impressions. They tell us about magic and real gifts from Earth and Heaven. They are also a collection reflecting his thoughts on the world around us ,on time elapsing and the colours of everyday existence. They move something in our souls, generate good mood, give joy.

Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz seeks inspiration in everyday life, verses of the Old and New Testament, his favourite book “Catcher in the Rye” by Salinger, poems of Baczyński, Moczulski, old Egyptian hierogliphs, the magic air of Cracow, the cabaret stage Piwnica pod Baranami and the “Maska” café , actors' place in the cellars of the Stary Theatre.

He paints his works with watercolours, inks and above all – with Indian drawing gels, the hot technological experiment among the painting materials. “ Gel fascinates me. I enjoy its magical qualities. It sparkles, spills and jumps, gives a three dimensional effect. Gel-art is the combination of modern eccentricity with a convulsive classical approach”.

In one of the reviews Tadeusz Nyczek, theatre and art critic wrote:
“Among many roads and paths of contemporary art Pawluśkiewicz creates his own, which is more and more interesting. Probably most interesting is the fact that its possibilities are unforeseeable”.
I hope that you will agree with the above opinion.

Jerzy Brukwicki

The texts was first printed in the catalogue „Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz maluje żel-art. Z cyklu Sensy Byty Mary” („Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz gel-art paintings.)” , Galeria Zamkowa, Lublin, September/October 2007)

More at www.pawluskiewicz.pl

photo by Natalia Szułdrzyńska

Copyright by Konrad Glos, Rafal Zub 2010