Łódź Kaliska “Feminine Heroism in the art of the exceptional artist, known hitherto as Jan Kochanowski “

22.11 - 18.01.2020

Leica 6×7 Gallery Warszawa is pleased to invite you to the opening of the exhibition. Łódź Kaliska “Feminine Heroism in the art of the exceptional artist, known hitherto as Jan Kochanowski “

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Feminine Heroism in the art of the exceptional artist, known hitherto as Jan Kochanowski

Łódź Kaliska is a major polish artistic group at the turn of the centuriy. Although it was brought to life by accident (as a result of relegation of its members from the camp of the photographic association), it has been operating continuously since 1979 in an almost the same composition: Marek Janiak, Adam Rzepecki, Andrzej Świetlik, Andrzej Wielogórski (Makary) and Andrzej Kwietniewski. The last one parted with the group in 2007, while Sławomir Bit joined. Also Zofia Łuczko worked closely with the group for many years. Łódź Kaliska’s projects are implemented with the participation of Muses, whose creativity has a great impact on the final shape of the resulting works.

In September 2019 it was the 40th anniversary of the artistic activity of this formation. The exhibition at 6×7 Leica Gallery Warszawa is part of the celebration. The intensive program of the anniversary and accompanying exhibitions are proof, that Łódź Kaliska is doing quite well.

Feminine Heroism in the art of the exceptional artist, known hitherto as Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584)
Research Study
Suspicions, that Jan Kochanowski was a woman, have circulated in Academia for a long time and have hardly been a secret. They were based on anthropological research and genetic studies of the skull from the poet’s grave – without a doubt – a woman’s skull. In the absence of other evidence, the above facts have tentatively been left in the so-called „realm of suspicions and hypotheses” and have not entered the canon of „school-required knowledge”. This is living proof of the xenophobia and prejudice of the scientific community, towards feminine sex.

In 2002, the staff of the Łódź Kaliska Museum, came to own a precious collection of brine photography miniatures (a technique of pre-photographic recording, invented 300 years before heliography and daguerreotype), made by Jan Kochanowski or his collaborator. The poet’s authorship might be implied by the initials YK (written in a mirror reflection) on some plates.

The plates are a kind of author’s record, self-portraits in special moments of life. Given the then level of tolerance to the gender issue, these prove to be audacious records, no doubt not meant for the eyes of the author’s contemporaries. They are most likely a message for the posterity, which will gain a social life at a time, when it would be fully comprehended and properly interpreted. It is hard to say, whether 21st Century in Poland, was the moment the poetess had in mind. Truth to tell, the degree of tolerance towards everything in Poland (including the gender issue), does not differ that much, from that in the 16th Century (both then and here and now). Therefore, there is a risk, that the poetess’s message will not be fully understood and accepted, even here, today. 

However, the sense of the mission, the inner integrity and the principle of conduct in line with one’s conscience, common among the staff of the Łódź Kaliska Museum, make it vital, that the invaluable find, should be made available to the general public. Kochanowska’a brine pre-photographs, demonstrate the artist’s nearly futuristic intuition, at which the achievements of Duchamp or Leonardo (her contemporary) fade! It is unthinkable, indeed, that in the year 1550, a gender debate might be held in the field of art!

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Morover, these images demonstrate a unique drama of the artist, who, in order to operate within the society, to the full capacity of her talent, had to assume the semblance of a man (a bearded one, at that-which besides, being a fashion of the day, was an ingenious masking ploy).

Luckily, Kochanowska, well ahead of her time, did not treat the circumstances of the day, as something self-evident, and was (as presented by the brine images) fully aware of the double game and the magnitude of the accomplishments, gained as a result of this game. Besides, she risked their evaluation in a time perspective, she could not envisage at the time!

Out of the set of a few hundred photographs by Kochanowska, discovered in 2002, twelve were made available to the public. They are treated as the most representative and refer to the particular moments of the poet’s life, well-known icons depicting Kochanowski (be it male or female) or characteristic for the then era. The original records, much destroyed, were subject to a complex chemical and electrostatic processing (that took over 10 years), and then the contents were recreated layer by layer by means of advanced digital techniques. The ultimate form of the images is a compromise between the contemporary concept of creating an ideal image, even from a trace of the original record, and leaving a certain degree of white noise and contamination (due to the state of the originals), so that the records on display should not be dissociated from the originals, and resembled their Renaissance provenience with their form.
Marek Janiak

The real meaning of this amazing research and photographic project, dedicated to Janina Kochanowska, might be difficult to recognize at first glance, so we encourage you to read the text by Prof. Marek Janiak, a reasearcher from the Łódź Kaliska Museum. This short, popular science text sheds some light on the presented images, embedding them historically and sociologically in the era of Czarnolas (mid of XVIth century), as well as explaining a number of technical issues related to para-photographic brine technique. Of course, in his text, Prof. Janiak does not answer all the questions, related to the project. The more we invite dear viewers to attend the weekend with Łódź Kaliska (January 10-11th, 2020, at Mysia 3, 3rd floor). During lectures, film screenings and scientific discussions, you will be able to get answers to all the questions, the exhibition will undoubtedly arouse. It will also be a great opportunity to meet the artists (or scientists?) from Łódź Kaliska in person, and learn about other projects of them.
The exhibition on show till January 18th, 2020. Admission free.

Leica 6×7 Gallery Warszawa,Mysia 3, 2nd floor
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 20:00
Sunday 12:00 – 18:00