The world is not enough. Who would Jacek Łydżba take for his journey into space? A large group of male and female astronauts. His wife Ela, his daughters Kajka and Karolina, actress Kasia Figura, who he’s been friends with for so many years. A few pals he can talk about everything to and one art dealer. And many, many others – a carriage wouldn’t fit them all, so instead of a single rocket a whole armada of spaceships would have to fly up there.
Marilyn Monroe is also welcome, he says laughing.
And so is Laika. What an awesome party would that be! Dancing, very loud music, hippies, talking from dusk till dawn, flirting.
For him an offer to go into space is by no means an escape from reality nor an attempt to take a break from others.
It’s just like in his everyday life – he needs a lot of people around him, plenty of good hearts, just like this astronaut on the poster.
‘I like sitting in my atelier with friends, drinking tea and talking.’
Home, his dearest women and his hometown Częstochowa are his safe base.
‘My atelier is my spaceship. I’ve got my shelves with plastic models of planes, with books and CDs. Everything close at hand. I can find my favourite things in the dark – I know exactly where every single one of them is put. I paint at various times of the day. Recently I wake up at about four in the morning and go to my atelier. Painting gets me high.’
‘I sometimes happen to sink in my thoughts and get carried away for 10 seconds or even a minute, but I do come back to reality because it’s the here and now that excites me most. I often go euphoric. I get fascinated by girls, music, books or something cool that someone has just said. And I constantly want more and more.’
‘If you ask me what fruit I would take with me to the moon, I’ll tell you it’s an apple. But on second thought I immediately add strawberries, gooseberries, plums, pears, grapes, currents, cherries… You want me to give you more?’
This appetite for life brings about paintings. ‘People often wrongly assume that my artistic high is alcohol or drug-induced, which is completely untrue since I need to be as sober as a judge to paint and I must have a clear mind. Once I read a book about Modigliani – how he painted these beautiful, long-necked models of his. He would drink a lot of wine and paint admirably. I even tried it once – I drank some wine myself, sat for a while in my atelier and was soon overpowered by sleepiness and incapacity. Naturally, nothing came of the painting – I just went to bed.’
‘People expecting conventional paintings happen to visit my atelier, looking for well-defined Kossak-like works and such. They go into my orbit and in their eyes I can sometimes see admiration and some other times horror. It’s because they have never ever before seen such intense colours and such verve in operating layers of paint. And I am not afraid of painting, I have no fear of canvas.’
‘Every trip to Warsaw is also part of my orbiting. I step outside my everyday routine then – the journey there is when the joy actually begins. What was it that Gagarin said? ‘I saw the Earth! It’s beautiful.’ And I couldn’t agree more.’
Noted by Małgorzata Czyńska
Photo: Magdalena Borowiec