A POLISH WOMAN REWARDED IN VATICAN
Włodzimierz Rędzioch talks with Anna Gulak – a prize-winner of the Award of Papal Academies
WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - Why is the person of John Paul II in the range of your artistic interests?
ANNA GULAK: - John Paul II was not only a great pope but also a contemporary man of charismatic personality and many talents. Great and also humble. Strong but suffering. He was a great ‘leader’ and a prominent diplomat, philosopher, poet a sportsman and an actor… He was morally adamant and consistent. He was a moral support of the contemporary world, an example not only for believers but first of all, for the doubtful. I was fascinated by his energetic personality, pronouncements and gestures. I saw a reflection of beauty, love and God’s kindness in everything.
- I mentioned your last year’s Vatican exhibition entitled: ‘Faces of blessed John Paul II’. Can you say something more on this issue?
- The exhibition consisted of sculpture works: a monumental bust, presenting John Paul II, a project of his monument ‘Tues Petrus’ and eight graphic portraits of the Blessed, made in an enormous scale (3 metres of height). The purpose of these works was to present various aspects of his character, showing his ‘many faces’. Every portrait was inspired by his teaching, various pronouncements and characteristic features of his personality. The theme of the portraits is a dialogue between the portrayed and a viewer. Being fascinated by the monumental art, in reference with the contemporary art of the billboard and mass media culture, and also with the usage of a classic workshop, I want my works to influence strongly the viewer and create an occasion for reflection on the words of the Blessed, which inspired the creation of the cycle of the works.
- After the last year’s exhibition in Vatican, this year you have received a higher reward – you received the Award of Papal Academies. What is it for you?
- First of all, it is a great honour for me. Rewarding me among a dozen of elected sculptors, artists and architects from the whole world, encourages me to further creative work. The recognition of my art is a confirmation for me that the beauty and truth which are main values in my work are still needed in the contemporary art.
- It has been said for a few dozen years about a crisis of sacral art and a conflict between the Church – a great attorney of art for ages – and contemporary artists. Why have the roads of the Church and the contemporary art diverged from each other?
- The divergence of the roads was inevitable, when art started to have other purposes than the ones proclaimed by religion and Christian culture, that is, ideas of good, beauty and Christian humanism. At present art, has consciously been proclaiming mottos for a few dozen years which have nothing in common with a classic notion of esthetics. Generally existing ‘anti-art’ – including ‘anti-esthetics’ visible in it – oppose to classic values, so valuable in the European culture, which is nothing else but the Christian culture. The contemporary art is treated as an income ‘business’, whereas it should be understood in the notions of beauty, talent or artistic genius. However, there is still neo-classic art for connoisseurs in which artistic skills are appreciated, and the contemporary sacral art, so it is impossible to speak only about a split. Unfortunately, in this last area it is common to use the examples of ‘anti-esthetics’. The Holy Father Benedict XVI has been recently calling for return to esthetic values in the sacral art. So. Let’s hope that the future will bring the return of beauty and harmony in the sacral art.