Loading Events

The Sacrum – Icon – Abstraction. Around Jerzy Nowosielski.

The Exhibition at the IMO Gallery in Stary Sącz

April 20,2023 - July 31,2023

April 20, 2023 July 31, 2023

The Sacrum – Icon – Abstraction exhibition is a part of the celebration of the year of Jerzy Nowosielski, an outstanding Polish painter-theologian, reviver of contemporary religious art, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. We present a selection of his artworks thematically related to the issue of the exhibition, as well as paintings by artists of various generations who are close to the direction he was following. The exhibition includes icons by Anna Kopeć-Gibas, Paulina Krajewska, Greta Leśko, Danylo Movchan; metaphysical abstractions by Paweł Dutkiewicz, Krzysztof Klimek, Władysław Podrazik, Joanna Mazuś, Krzysztof Sokolovski, Agnieszka Tes and Tadeusz G. Wiktor as well as two paintings by Leon Tarasewicz from private collections.

Our main aim is to show the impact of the Nowosielski’s art and ideas, to point that this outstanding artist influenced the turn towards transcendence in XXth century art. The concept of the exhibition is built around the icon-abstract axis. Nowosielski, who in a phenomenal way combined the Orthodox tradition of icons with the awareness of avant-garde trends, particularly valued abstraction. He believed that it gave the possibility of contact with “subtle beings”, with the reality of the “supermaterial” order. He repeatedly emphasized that an icon looks exceptionally well in the company of non-figurative painting. This thought became a direct inspiration in the selection of works and arrangement of the exhibition at the IMO Gallery.


The most distinctive part of the exhibition, is the display of the subtle connections between the legacy of the eminent theologian-painter and the work of artists of later generations, who have linked their path to the icon, abstraction, or icon-abstraction. The return to the icon observed in recent decades takes many forms, from faithfully following tradition, through the introduction of individual sensitivity and new iconographic solutions, to free inspiration, often combined with original theoretical formulations. Nowosielski, who repeatedly emphasised his respect for the canon, undoubtedly brought to icon painting – which is rooted in the Byzantine canon – a breath of invigorating freedom. By moving away from the rigid copying of old patterns, Nowosielski reopened the way to combine the canon with an individual sense of the spiritual sphere. This possibility is also actualised in a very captivating way in the works of the artists included in the exhibition. What appears to be the common denominator for the icons by Anna Kopeć-Gibas, Paulina Krajewska, Greta Leśko and Danylo Movchan, made mostly using the tempera technique on board, is precisely Nowosielski’s lesson, a lesson of creative freedom, “the truth of sensing eschatological realism” while respecting the unchanging theology of the sacred image. 

Icons look especially appealing in the company of abstractions, as Nowosielski repeatedly emphasised. Expanding on this view, we include in the exhibition a wide selection of works representing metaphysical abstraction by Nowosielski’s students: Paweł Dutkiewicz, Krzysztof Klimek and Władysław Podrazik among others. But the impact of the painters’s thoughts and works reached significantly further than just to his studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, reverberating in the works of younger generations: Joanna Mazuś, Krzysztof Sokolovski (they both are authors of polychrome relief paintings on wood) or Agnieszka Tes. 

Finally, the exhibition is enriched by two works (a small abstraction and an Orthodox cross) by Leon Tarasewicz  and selected examples of Icons by Tadeusz G. Wiktor. Leon Tarasewicz, an internationally acclaimed Polish painter of Belarusian origin, has repeatedly emphasised his links with the Orthodox Church and his fascination with Master Jerzy. Developing his idea of total art, Tarasewicz evokes the experience of the icon, in which the world has been immersed since his childhood, in a way that is non-obvious and indirect. In turn, the affinity of Tadeusz G. Wiktor’s work with Nowosielski’s painting universe is of a more general nature, stemming from a common orientation towards the transcendental sphere, yet is not one of direct inspiration. Wiktor shapes his artistic and theoretical practice primarily in dialogue with the great pioneers of abstractionism, Malewicz and Mondrian, but he also directs his attention towards an unorthodox understanding of the icon. The abstract painting he practises is incorporated into the iconic realm, thus coming closer to Nowosielski’s intuition. His approach is also akin to the painter-theologian’s approach in his exceptionally serious attitude towards matters of art in general and the cultivation of a metaphysics of beauty and light, the origins of which date back to Byzantium. Works displayed at the exhibition, namely Ikony (Icons) dedicated to his loved ones, dating back to the 1990s, which glow from within, as well as Ikony Alicyjskie (Alice Icons), dedicated to his wife, which have recently been completed, are excellent examples of the intermingling of the sacred, icon, and abstraction.

The range of issues covered by the exhibition at the IMO Gallery dedicated to the memory of Jerzy Nowosielski is exceptionally subtle, complex and multi-faceted. Rather than aspiring to exhaust them, we propose to highlight only some aspects of the reception of the Master’s legacy. We hope that this will be an important voice in the discussion that has been ongoing for many years and shows no signs of ending anytime soon.


Rynek 5
Stary Sącz, 33-340
+ Google Map
View Venue Website