Jan Dziędziora recognized the Polish National Exhibition of Young Visual Arts Against War, Against Fascism, opened in July 1955 at the Arsenal in Warsaw, as the beginning of his artistic path. He showed simple compositions with ordinary objects: Still Life with Bread, Still Life with Parsley, and Meal, which is presented in this exhibition. The pieces are clearly anti-Socialist Realist, but also anti-Colourist, which was broadly considered a risky choice to make, since in the mid-1950s Colourism was commonly recognized as the only escape route from the official Socialist Realist aesthetics. Meal depicts a weary man leaning over a bowl of soup standing on an austere wooden table. A piece of brown bread lies alongside. Dziędziora’s paintings are characterized by a lack of care for colour, a rough manner of painting, and a focus on the content and moral message: art should be uncompromising and engaged in reality. The topic of his painting is the mundaneness of the workers’ life, which is not heroic, contrary to how the optimistic Socialist Realist propaganda wished to portray it. Dziędziora’s works presented at the Arsenal exhibition expressed opposition to the empty mannerism of Socialist Realism and turned towards engagement. The artist took an interest not only in the political, but also in the existential sense of the work. His pieces mark a struggle with the notion of humanism and an attempt to reach the completeness of humanity via a painterly form.
Jan Dziędziora (b. 1926 in Kraków, d. 1987 in Warsaw) – a painter, educated in Kraków, during the war he fought as a partisan and a member of the Home Army. After the war, he studied at the art academies in Kraków and Warsaw. He participated in the Polish National Exhibition of Young Visual Arts Against War, Against Fascism in 1955. Dziędziora showed few of his works during his lifetime, avoiding mainstream artistic circulation. He returned to active cultural life in the 1980s, when he became engaged in the independent cultural circuit following the imposition of martial law.