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EssayZofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

By Małgorzata Czyńska

The Weaving of a Painting

Painting was a dream, designing fabrics – a life necessity. In both, she showed talent and invention. For a past few years, Zofia Matuszczyk-Cyganska has been living her dream and just painting. However, in her colour-pulsating abstract compositions, and in her organization of work on the canvas one can see a weaver’s touch and way of thinking.

Zofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

Heat and cold. Joy, sadness and melancholy. Down and dusk. Sunset and multicoloured auroras. The colours of moods, times of a day – the energy and poetics of Zofia Matuszczyk-Cyganska’s paintings can only be felt through the colour and the pure abstract allows the most complete creations. Painting doesn’t have to tell a story or ‘take photographs’ of things, its aims are purer, more profound – convincingly says the artist – it’s an opportunity for a personal declaration.

Zofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

She makes up her compositions with tiny squares of colour, spots and fine strokes – it reminds one a bit of the colourful mosaics which enchanted her in the Byzantine basilicas of Ravenna and Venice. Her paintings have rhythm; they flicker and vibrate with light and colour.

The genesis of Zofia Matuszczyk-Cyganska’s painting style is not that simple. In the thirties, she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw with Professors Mieczyslaw Kotarbinski, Tadeusz Kulisiewicz and Tadeusz Pruszkowski. She graduated after the war (WWII) under tuition of Felicjan Szczesny-Kowarski. In her landscapes and nudes of that period one can clearly see the teachings of the French post-impressionists and the native Polish Colourists. Kapists’s (members of the Paris Committee, a group established by Polish Colourists – translator’s note) influence was huge.

Zofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

Later came a period of searching: the fifties would bring a breeze of modernity and Matuszczyk-Cyganska would only paint still life with subdued colours, simplified and synthesized. She would outline the objects in paintings with a thick black contour, emphasizing their static and weight. Then she was only a small step away from the abstract art. Her first mosaic on canvas entitled “The Centre” was created in 1956. The artist painted just a few more pieces in this style. She would only come back to building up canvases with tiny squares of colour in the late nineties.

Zofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

Parallel with painting, Zofia Matuszczyk-Cyganska was doing the weaving, and at some time the art of the loom dominated her creative activity. Back in 1936 she started working with the “Lad” co-operative and she continued with them after the war. She would design unique tapestries as well as beautiful fabrics made with Jacquard looms. Her work, both painting and the textile art, was presented at over two hundred exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She would also teach. The few paintings from the sixties, seventies and eighties are mainly abstracts or abstracts bordering with figuration.

Zofia Matuszczyk-Cygańska

Only recently has the artist become occupied exclusively with painting. It has been the most conscious and autogenous period in her creative activity. She has painted over three hundred pieces and every day she starts up a new colour game on a canvas.

The work on the canvas, the subsequent stages of creation may remind one of a weaver’s work – the warp threads are hidden under a multicoloured weft, and a weft’s thread of a colour weaves the warp only within this colour’s swathe. Zofia Matuszczyk-Cyganska’s oil paintings are like a pattern woven from multicoloured threads.