Agata Jóźwiak

The artist looks at the world profoundly and sensitively, contemplates the beauty and the majesty of nature. Agata Jóźwiak with mastery uses monochrome technique of ink painting, which is the result of her private studies of the history of art and practice of painting by chinese literati and zen masters (bunjinga, zenga). Artist’s subtle, unhurried conversation with the Far Asian traditions, constant inspiration by the local landscape is a precious thing among modern polish painting, enriching the tradition which has started in 19th century  by the most prominent landscape painters.

Anna Katarzyna Maleszko, The National Museum in Warsaw

Ms Agata Jóźwiak combines the tradition of Far East ink painting and the tradition of Polish landscape painting in an interesting way. Thus she fits in a long artistic process tracing its roots back to the the second half of the nineteenth century, when Polish artists often reached for techniques and formal measures of Far East art and were inspired by the ideas of that art to describe and interpret home reality in a new way.

Joanna Wasilewska (PhD) Director of Asia and Pacific Museum

This young painter has mastered her painting techniques, which she has proved with fine copies of old masters’ works (oil painting, watercolour, drawing). As the experiments of today’s avant-garde do not interest her, she turned towards ink painting. In her low number of means of expression she is close to the prehistory of painting. She paints with ink and her works deserve recognition. She is exceptionally sensitive to the beauty of landscape and searches for the essence of landscape in her works.

Prof. Przemysław Trzeciak, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

The painting of Agata Jóźwiak delights you as an artistic effect of the artist’s direct contact with nature, mainly with the mountains. Her intuitional use of such rules of Japanese aesthetics as compositional asymmetry, the active role of emptiness and narrow value gradation have entered the repertoire of her means of artistic expression for good. Thus her art is sensitive to changes observed in nature, but also open to the Universum. It is spontaneous, but at the same time subject to formal discipline.

Łukasz Kossowski (PhD) Art curator of The Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature in Warsaw

Between the sky and the earth, on every rung of the ladder that is the mountains – low here in Masuria, or high in my longed-for Tatras – just as in your ink drawings, Agata – here as well as there I am beckoned by silence, trails disappearing into nowhere, rolling meadows and the light on mountains and lakes.  

But, most of all – tenderness. Your gentle gaze deep into the landscape, your insight and your humility for the “gift” is reminiscent of how Matsuo Bashō painted with words: There are more islands than anyone could count. Some rise up steeply, as though thrusting towards the skies; some are flat, and seem to crawl on their stomachs into the waves. Some seem piled double, or even three layers high. To the left, they appear separate; to the right, joined together. Some look as if they carried others on their backs, and some as if they held them in their arms, like a parent caring for a little child or grandchild.[1]

According to Chinese, Korean and Japanese tradition, ink painting and the art of calligraphy are governed by similar principles. These principles, among which is also the increasingly soft voice of the master, are delicate, not authoritative yet still very understandable. They sound “correct,” as the poet Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn (857-915)[2] writes.      

In the Kaya Mountains

In a wild dash trundling hidden stones

And pushing up the peaks with a howl

Snatching our words and concealing meaning

Though you stand near

Heart aflutter I wait to hear the voices

the words so right in their sound

The old masters’ teachings – they flow with the stream

And vanish into the mountain clearing.

[1] From a description of the pine-covered islands of Matsushima in Matsuo Bashō’s travel journal The Narrow Road to the Deep North, 1689. https://minookatap.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-north.pdf [accessed: 20.06.2020]

[2] A poet from the era of the Silla Kingdom on the Korean peninsula. He was educated in Tang Dynasty China and upon returning to his homeland, he chose a life of wandering and then solitude in the Kaya Mountains. He became famous in China and Korea as a master of calligraphy, ink painting and Chinese poetry. Translated into Polish by AŻU and from the Polish into English by SW.

Agnieszka Żuławska-Umeda (PhD), poet, Japanese translator

Getting to know nature can inspire people to meet ‘other face’ of the nature. Primarily it is important to let nature be as it is, do not change anything with it. It is about deep respect towards it. It is about silence and noiselessness.

Nature breathes because of silence, that is why only through silence we can get closer to it, which should be seen at the painting. Good quality music makes silence audible. Good quality work of art makes silence audible.

In Agata’s works I see the limit only to that what is essential. It is not only about the outside form, but what mountains, seas, lakes and landscapes define and hide inside them. Paintings breathe in silence.

I consider that the way of deep approach to nature is fruitful and that we people are invited to it. We should get closer towards nature with great respect, observation and contemplation. And try to see in nature the signpost to God’s beauty. The path getting to know nature is fruitful because it can lead man to silence. In silence we become open for the mistery od God.

We need paintings, which lead closer us to God. God is beyond all art, exceeds it. And that is visible at Agata’s works: her paintings are the singpost to God and His misteries.


Anselm Grün OSB, monk, writer

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