Hippo Hole, the stuff we drank together with Wojek Kliczka as we worked on our cartoon. The label name (in Russian) read “Potierya” and was the title of a humorous tale by Danil Charms. And so, we did get a good laugh at that one.
Tokay is what we have to visit every once a while, together with my friends Benek and Marcin Rząsa, to get our uri-muri there, using the Hungarian phrase. In a locality named Talliya, György Rozsa has his cellar. And so, we step down into the earth’s interior, getting immersed in the chill. Inside a mossy grotto, a dim light comes out of a bulb very near the ceiling, two rows of barrels with red rings embracing them standing against the wall. The winemaker dips his pipe in a barrel of Furmint, a dry wine. He pours it into our glasses, and we taste it: it’s cold. The vintner looks closer at us, and we crack our smiles. Then comes asu [aszú], raisins dipped in a moisty moss. A six-pooton aszú, gluey, pours out like an oil, very slowly. I’m looking for a good reason not to leave the venue. The winemaker is filling emptied plastic mineral-water bottles with his wines. Burdened with them, we finally get back onto the surface. We squint our eyes in the dazzling daylight out there. Back in Poland, I pour the wine into glass bottles and post my labels on them.
kosodrzewina pachnie szalenie. In June 2005, I went for a trip into Tatra Mountains, with Marcin Rząsa. The bottles we bought at a grocer’s in Jaworzyna land on my rucksack’s bottom and we immerse ourselves in Koperszady. The higher up there, the colder, rougher; the spring is left behind, down there in the valley. In Pod Kopą col, where the tall beautiful mountains get unveiled, the peaks of Jagnięcy, Łomnica, Kieżmarski show their claws. The sun slowly sets behind Jagnięcy, and we drink our cold winter beer. Two days after, we step from Lodowa (Icy) Col downwards into Jaworowa Valley – into the spring. The plants get through the ground like asparaguses. The mountain pine produces its mighty smell in the sun.
Jacek Pieńkos, my high-school friend from Szczytno, went once with his family to Greece, to see his sister. On their way back, they stopped at our place in Bielsko. Jacek brought a bottle of ouzo along. There, at Przegibek: duszonki, the stewed speciality of the Beskidy region, are almost done over the bonfire, and we are sipping ouzo with water, white like milk. The kids are chasing some cats. The smoke stings our eyes a bit. The town rests peacefully somewhere far away down there.
Early in the autumn, Wojtek Kliczka and I went to Jablonkovo where we bought a box of Kozel beers. Then, back at my Bielsko house, I put my TV set on the terrace and we watched a football match, like any two genuine lads would do. Those courageous Polish players chase their leather ball like in a sand. They chase and chase it, never reaching for it. They’re kicking and kicking with no result, like a nightmare. We drink our beer, laughing and mentally making our film on football. Night. Crickets chirping.
Wojtek Kliczka, graphic artist and computer magician. He’s been always rescuing me: he can make any lost file resuscitate. We sure will make a whole lot of new movies, and hundreds of miles down to the Czech Republic to have a pint of Budweiser there. What else? Lazy afternoons, watching football, surfacing the lawn.
‘Benek’, or, Jerzy Cyganiewicz, sculptor and interior designer. A Cracovian by choice, he’s been my trek companion as we went hunting for our Tokay wine down to Hungary. We’ve made some exhibitions together. Like “Pleasure scenes”, for instance: I showed my pictures of flasks and Benek, ceramic sculptures of girls (the ones I’m so keen on).
Jacek Pienkoś, my evergreen friend. In our native town of Szczytno, we would stand out there in the street and talk, or smoke fags together in a school loo. Jacek: a fireplace lit on Babant lake; Tatra mountains; Caucasus; honey, essentially. I once draw a bear for his honey factory ad logo. Jacek appears in my Tingiel-Tangiel cartoon.
Marcin Maleńczyk, the guy who sits around his café. The espresso machine’s hissing, the steam blazes around, and you can feel the smell of mocca. Marcin’s apparition is one of a Brazilian coffee grower, you could say. Coffee Karma is his workplace, and in his hours off, he mends his cucumber-shaped VW.
Tadek Marx, a chum. I once painted a beer drinker and suddenly saw Tadek in the picture. So, I painted a portrait of him. And then, I decided to make portraits of other acquaintances, more or less close to me – those who cherish ordinary and extraordinary moments. I first met Tadek in Rusinowa Glade. An excellent companion to spend one of those friendly drinking-and-musical evenings with.
Mariusz Front, the one I met after we both failed at the Fine Arts Academy entrance exam. Later, in Sralówki Glade in Gorce mountains, we would talk and chit-chat across the nights. I can remember a frozen teapot in the cot. Mariusz is a movie director an together with his wife Mela, we traverses the East of the globe.
Łukasz Kiferling, sculptor, aviation fanatic. Like an Icarus, he arrayed himself in wings and lifted off. He doesn’t like that portrait that much, but as for myself, I would never use a model to paint out of. What for, I mean? Resemblance doesn’t matter that much to me. Those portrayed often tend to think otherwise, though.