Nr. 14 ( 67 ), Vilnius, 5 -18 July, 1992
CZESLAW ZNAMIEROWSKI – A VISUAL ARTIST FROM VILNIUS
[By] Aleksy Aniszczyk
Photos [C. Znamierowski paintings] from records:
“By the river Wilia”
“The Green Lake”
We would not say a lot by just stating he had a big artistic talent. Czeslaw Znamierowski had many talents, he was an all-round person. Wood-carving, architecture, carpentry, horticulture…He managed to approach everything independently and to achieve perfect quality in almost all things he tried his hand at.
He was remarkable for his unusual diligence; his short sleep was his only break. He used to be benign and generous.
When, for example the shiftless but undoubtedly gifted painter Piotr Siergijewicz was wandering in different places, constantly changing his work, it was Sir Czeslaw that gave him for permanent use /for free/ the heated parlour of his house. He did not even think he might become his competition. And later, when an acquaintance of his – a doctor - left for Warsaw, he asked her to offer her home to Siergiejew for a specified or not specified period of time. As a result Piotr Siergijewicz became the owner of a 3-room furnished accommodation.
Did Znamierowski have any weaknesses? Yes, he did: pigeons and flowers. Wherever the waves of life were casting him, he always found the possibility of breeding pigeons. The beautiful birds were helping him preserve his mental equilibrium, serenity and peace of mind. Flying in the azure expanse, their outlines awoke his dreams and soaring creative imagination, and later he would recreate them in a wonderful harmony on the canvass. Flowers also accompanied Czeslaw through his whole life. Roses, asters, peonies, orchids, kalias, dahlias and dozens of other flower kinds were inseparable parts of the painter’s home surrounding in Antakalnis. The town authorities in Vilnius rewarded him many times with different prizes in aesthetical competitions. Sir Czeslaw had one more virtue: he never and nowhere drank alcohol. He used to say that when in his childhood he saw the hideousness of drunk people, he – a man inseparably connected with beauty – decisively discerned this aspect of ugliness.
And how love for art was generated in Znamierowski? Born (on May 23, 1890) on the border of Byelorussia and Latvia, in a property in Zacisze k/Lucyna, the young Czesiek established contact with nature “from the cradle”. He observed how the earth was dying under the snow, how the lively streams died out and froze, the bushes and the trees, so joyful just a while ago, were bristling their stubbles.
And during the spring everything came back to life, everything was covered with flower carpets, the birds’ warbling was floating in the air, an unrestrained sypmphony of life. The images of homeland nature, rich and constantly changing, arouse irresistible yearning in the boy to perpetuate this beauty on the canvass in the way he soon managed to see in the museums and art galleries.
Czeslaw’s dreams came true. He went to Petersburg under the guardianship of Lewitan and Rylow - masters of Russian painting. In Vilnius again his talent was influenced by Ruszczyc, from whom one could learn a lot.
Czeslaw Znamierowski’s art is realistic art. His favourite subjects became landscapes from his beloved homeland, local prototypes, people change – the artist reasoned. Those who used to be heroes yesterday are often downtrodden and forgotten today. And vice versa – yesterday’s “delinquents” are today’s heroes. Where is justice here and how to immortalize it on the canvass? ...
“While rivers and sea, mountains and forests, fields and flowers are always beautiful. Thence landscapes. And here on the canvass the yeasty Baltic sea, the silvery meanders of the river Wilenka, the azure of the lake and the endless sky come to life.
Today, in times full of unpredictable changes and events, the painting somewhat lost its rhythm, the stability of the beauty canons. New trends and foundations appeared, but the creative works of painters such as Czeslaw Znamierowski stay within the beauty circle of Italian, Spanish and Dutch master painters. He was not tempted by Cubism, Modernism, Symbolism or dozens of other quickly changing “genres”. He did not want to waste time.
From the beginning till the end of his life, Znamierowski invariably subjected to the eternal rules: art has to be beautiful – and – art has to be a real reflection of its environment in a specific period of time. The exponents of such classical principles were just our contemporaries (alongside others) – Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Adomas Varnas, Ludomir Sledzinski, Czeslaw Znamierowski, Piotr Siergijewicz and the famous landscape-painter of Niesvizh, Michal Siewruk.
When for the first time I found myself at Znamierowski’s place, still in the antechamber I stopped as if dizzy, enchanted by his art. It seemed that I was surrounded by the works of old-time masters and new times. Colours, a lovely harmony between drawing, chiaroscuro, creative imagination, composition and perspective…The expressiveness of the first plan, the Vilnius hills dimmed in the distance, and the meadows, the Baltic sea waves and the yeasty river Wilenka. The portrait of the mother, how much warmth, deep wistfulness and worldly wisdom can be read in the eyes of the slightly leant head? ...So much philosophical peace and indulgence for those who could not avoid the human fallibility. This portrait becomes close and welcoming as if it is my own mother’s portrait… Forests and fields, seas and rivers, cities and hamlets – everything breathes life.
What a great psychologist and connoisseur of the human soul must have been the author of those gorgeous masterpieces!
Czeslaw Znamierowski’s art covers thousands of landscapes, portraits, architectural sites. His paintings are located in many museums and art galleries, they can be found abroad. Sir Czeslaw did not obey vanity, he was not looking for fame, but he was a painter of uncommon reputation.
If it comes to his social concept, an eloquent fact is that he was one of the founders of the Vilnius Association of the Independent Artists and Painters in 1931, where he was a vice-president and since 1933 – a president.
Here is what “Warsaw Courier “and “Vilnius Courier” wrote about Znamierowski’s art:
Znamierowski accurately observed the countryside soul. With a deep and transparent feeling he pictured the spring, the forest, the lake, the winter…
Czeslaw Znamierowski brings out the synthetic art which he nurses in Vilnius.
The rich value range is of various graduations… The more nature in the paintings of the artist, the more beautiful they are.
Znamierowski obtained diplomas and medals many times. He had exhibitions in Warsaw, Moscow, London and also beyond Europe, in America. His paintings were bought with willingness.
The active art creation was an inseparable partner of his whole life. He also organized individual expositions after the war, and a bit before he passed away he was granted the title of “ an honoured worker of art”.
In regard to the technical side of his art, he most often used oils. But a lot of his works were done with crayons, charcoal, pencil.
Gintaras, Czeslaw Znamierowski’s grandson, is also a talented visual artist. Amazed, I was looking at some small landscapes, remarkable for the maturity of the composition colouring. I was happy that Czeslaw Znamierowski’s talent is inherited…
The essay on Czeslaw Znamierowski’s profile would not be complete if we don’t remind the integrity and comprehensiveness of his concepts. For him there were not any boundaries between nationalities. He readily made friends with the natives of any country, including Byelorussians, and the evidence for this was his sincere friendship with the above mentioned Piotr Siergijewicz and Michal Siewruk. He was not a stranger to Latvians, Lithuanians, Jews, Tatars, Karaites, Russians. He was ready to help everyone if possible.
Upon my request, here is how Sir Czeslaw’s daughter, Antonina Znamierowska, characterized her father:
He was very good, quiet and calm. He had various interests. He used to go on journeys and traveled a lot. In regard to talents, he could do anything. His professional artistic vocation did not interfere with making for example all kinds of repairs, or in mending anything in our house. He used to make the frames for his paintings himself, he readily dealt with carpentry for which he had a special workshop. He carved wooden figurines for the garden and generally he performed all kinds of work. In 1941 the property of the Znamierowski family was nationalized, only the house was left to the family. A lot of objects and documentation were burnt, only some survived.
Did my father have a hobby?
Yes. He worshipped flowers and pigeons. He was taking care of the garden himself, he cared about dozens of kinds of roses and a lot of other different flowers. He loved to paint flowers and this was inherited from him by my brother Miroslaw. Gintaras, my nephew, seems to show love for the palette as well.
Czeslaw Znamierowski passed away in 1977. He was buried in the graveyard behind the church of St. Peter and Paul.
1992.07.05 – 07.18
Translated from: Polish
Library reference card: