Tel. + 48 12/ 267 - 53 - 55
E-mail: nykielpl@yahoo.com
Born in Bielsko-Biala. Graduated (in 1966) from the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts, Faculty of Painting and Graphic Art - specialisation in tapestry.
Group exhibitions:
1974 - All-Polish Exhibition of Interior Decoration, Warsaw
1975 - Studies - Proposals - Realisations, Cracow
1975 - Fair in the Royal Castle, Warsaw (distinction)
1977/78 - Man and Environment, Cracow
1978 - Tapestry of the year, Cracow
1979 - Pryzmat Gallery, Cracow
1979 - Bergen, Norway
1980 - Poland '80, Novea, Germany
1982 - Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cracow
1983 - Plastyka Art Gallery, Cracow
1983 - Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cracow
1984 - Modern Tapestry and the Bible, Warsaw
1985 - II International Art Fair, Poznan
1989 - Contemporary Art Exhibition, DESA Gallery, Cracow
1994 - Cracow '94, Gent
Individual exhibitions:
1978 - Sculpture Gallery, Warsaw
1986 - BWA Gallery, Opole
1996 - Janineum, Vienna
1998/99 - Art Gallery in Vogelmaierhaus, Rauris, Austria
1999 - Cathedral and Diocesan Museum, Vienna
Tapestries in private collections in France, Norway, the United States, Canada, Germany, the Vatican and Poland.

    The decorated cloth has accompanied man from the beginnings of time. It was made by prehistoric man, by the Egyptians, Cretans, Greeks and Romans. They ornamented the cloth, filled it with symbolism and figurative depictions.
    The textile is present in virtually every culture, it accompanies almost every religion, race and society. In Mediaeval Europe great woven masterpieces were created both by noble woman at princely courts and nuns shut away in monasteries. Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque were periods that brought forth the gold enriched Flemish arras, dazzling embroideries, elegant lace and gemstone studded stitches. Along side great masterpieces man also produced the more popular textiles for everyday use and those created in the folk tradition and style. The next phase of the fascination with textile as art emerged at the culmination of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.
    It can be said that every artist working today, concerned with and involved this wonderful area of creativity, more or less consciously draws from and refers back to various stages in its rich history.
    Tradition is the foundation on which Jadwiga Anna Nykiel builds her unusual art. She was introduced to textile design and work early in her life in secondary school in Bielsko. As a student at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts she developed further her natural talent in the workshops of Professors Czeslaw Rzepinski, Stefan Galkowski and the man whose teaching is particularly valued by her Professor Jan Szancenbach. She has specialised the field of artistic textiles and completed her diploma under direction of Professor Galkowski.
    For many years Jadwiga Anna Nykiel has created beautiful textile pieces, all exhibited, admitted and often bought throughout Europe. The technique that Jadwiga Anna Nykiel has adopted as particularly "her own" is the gobelin, which has been used in Poland since the 17th century. It involves creating a one sided decorative cloth which imitates a painting.
    It is this pattern or the particular composition of the piece, which is made beforehand in the form of a cartoon - usually a painted one. The second phase is the weaving of the cloth or gobelin from the previously completed cartoon template. In the past this was done in separate, specialised workshops, however in the case of Jadwiga Anna Nykiel's work this is done differently. The entirety; the preparation of materials, the design (i.e. the cartoon) and its realisation are all the fruits of the artists own mind and hands. Jadwiga Anna Nykiel, herself, dyes the wool for her goblins, she prepares the painted cartoon for each and everyone of her works, and finally it is her own hands which weave the whole cloth. She works without exaltation even with a certain humility of a conscientious worker earning his daily bread.
    Is it however possible to look on her work as something other than a piece of art?
    Bent in concentration over her colourful bundles of wool, over the paper and eventually over her loom, gradually builds up her unique, woven paintings.
    The works of Jadwiga Anna Nykiel refer back to woven art and textiles of the past, however there are no links to the arrases of Rafael Santi and Michael Coxcien or to the aristocratic pieces by European cottage manufactures of the 18th century. Her gobelins instead demonstrate a fascination with simple, spontaneous production such as went on in Coptic monasteries in Egypt or in the homes of nobility and townsman or even country folk in Poland, Austria, Hungary, Germany and Scandinavia - in fact throughout the Europe of our great-grandfathers.
    The works of Jadwiga Anna Nykiel also dazzle with colour. This aspect is understandable as it reflects the colour sensibilities of among others Czeslaw Rzepinski and his pupils. Easy to detect in Jadwiga Anna Nykiel's work is also the inspiration taken from the polish folk tradition (particularly Polish painting) with its unlimited imagination, richness of forms, iconography, symbolism and clarity and lack of speculation and convolution often caused by a preoccupation with religion.
    Gobelins such as The Last Supper (Ostatnia Wieczerza) - Christ and the Apostles gathered beneath a Baroque canopy - a tent arranged in the middle of a fantastic meadow, Jubilee (Jubileusz) with Mother Mary of Czestochowa and adoring figures with Primate of the millennium of Poland (cardinal Stefan Wyszynski) and the Polish Pope at the head, The Delights of Hell (Radosc Piekiel) with Adam and Eve under the tree of temptation, St. Francis (Sw. Franciszek) preaching to the birds, all illustrate well the above mentioned attitude to Christian tradition and culture. This is not all. In the pieces such as The Tree of Life (Drzewo Zycia), Beset (Osaczona), Going By (Przemijanie), the Kraków born artist takes on universal topics rooted in tradition much older than the thousand-year-old Poland or the even older Christianity. By this she underlines the passage of everything that has been created. At the same time we see here the formal aspects of both Romanticism (for instance William Blake) and Expressionism. Themes of fairy - tale fantasy, sentimentality, romance are shown to us in works such as Gardens (Ogrody) or Sadness (Smutek).
    These and other works portray well Jadwiga Anna Nykiel's culture both personal and professional, her sensitivity and passion. In being so much like paintings, her works give an image of a person conscious of her own creative abilities. They illustrate the peculiarity of cloth as a medium and the great value of tradition, the significance of which is difficult to forget when watching her goblins.
Pawel Pencakowski, Ph. D.
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