Bożena Kowalska

The art of silence and meditation




Mieczysław Knut’s painting of A.D. 2005 is a result of a reduction process that’s been going on for twenty years. It’s so subtle and ascetic that it’s accessible only to viewers gifted with an unusual thought and perception sensitivity. It’s been virtually always that way.

In the beginning, after Knut’s graduation in 1977, heads and torsos used to appear in his pictures although incidentally, as if veiled by a fog but still distinguishable. However they vanished very fast giving way to what was the most important in those quasi-figurative canvases: the grey, monochromatic, texture-like planes.

In the first half of the 80s they looked like stone tablets delimited by a spherical line drawn on a flat background and only disturbed by small, delicate intrusions either of a fine light stroke, a zigzag darker than the structure or a triangular shred of fabric as if glued onto the canvas. And all that painted in an illusionary way giving impression of canvas textures and occasionally of thickly spread upon it lumpy oil paint.

In the late 80s and still in the 90s it happened that the artist would “oppose” two different canvas textures to each other and would introduce a various size rectangle of color contrasting with the texture color, sometimes white on greenish grey, red on almost black graphite or again pale green on golden grey ochre.

In his works from the end of the previous decade and those from the beginning of the present one almost all of the illusionary structure disturbances have been given abandoned. The meditative silence, concentration and apparent monotony of those new paintings can be only compared to some music pieces and especially to the 3rd Symphony by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki.

In 2002 a cycle of 14 pieces was created. It was named “Asketes”, appropriately to the modesty and economy of means they display. They don’t contain anything that might induce any substantial associations. Therefore the standing out from the background rectangular planes of illusionary canvas and paint structures are not spherically delimited at the top anymore, as it used to be, which affiliated them with Moses tablets. They are only slightly irregular rectangles with moving illusionary painted texture on not much differing from them in color smooth backgrounds.

Those unconventional paintings that amaze with discrete charm in spite of their monotonal quality and great at the first glance similarity differ a lot with a more in-depth analysis. They vary as much regarding the palette as the photorealistically painted and different in each case canvas structure and the paint put upon it. Some of the differences among them are also all kinds of often not well visible details. Beside the slightly colored light spilling upon the surface of the structure and filling up the canvas occasionally narrow bands of clearly pink or pinkish orange shining appear on the left border. In some of the pictures a trace of a brush stroke is visible as if the artist was trying to prove that their perfect precision was not a result of work of a programmed device but that of a human hand. On one of the canvases, drawn in the middle, there’s a vertical crack or scar, on another one – barely visible Greek letters from the word “phos” – meaning “light” and still on another one there’s a gentle impression of Malewicz cross in the texture. All those barely noticeable sings or subtle color saturations of grey with rose, violet or bluishness are set in a sphere of a rare, refined sensibility.

Mieczysław Knut art in great part owes its subtleness integrating a wealth of color impressions and nuances to professor Władysław Jackiewicz excellent school of sensibility under whose guidance the artist had studied at the Gdańsk PWSSP. To tell the truth nothing in the creation of the young artist has been taken from his favorite teacher ways of expression, however the latter one managed to convey to his student the need to include in the pictures what Kant used to call nobleness. You can even say Mieczysław Knut advanced that idea further. For in his art contemplative beauty factor has been saturated with metaphysics and understate like everything else in his pictures’ spirit of sacrum. It’s not about any specific cult or a particular religion. Maybe even it’s not about the sacred in the theistic sense but it’s about the sacred of the art itself. Isn’t though any sophisticated art a way of seeking God?

Mieczysław Knut’s art is quiet and contemplative. It’s the exact opposite of the fashionable art of our times, an art the purpose of which is either to easily entertain the public and to amaze through shock and vulgarity, ugliness an obscenity or profanation of the sacred and derision of taboos. Most often that art is superficial, noisy and aggressive. It seems impossible for Knut’s peaceful, subtle and sophisticated art to get noticed in all that aggressiveness, chaos and commotion. There are people, although only a very few, who are gifted with an exceptional eye and mind sensitivity, people who are able to notice and appreciate the value of a meditative silence and beauty expressed in a whisper in the ever present cacophony and noise. Mieczysław Knut doesn’t care about the applause of the masses. He knows there’s only the elitary art. Or there’s none.