Seven-day Meeting with Roman Opałka
In October 2019, a photographer from Warsaw - Janusz Woliński called our Museum. It appeared that while tidying up his atelier, he had come across a large envelope which contained a set of amazing photos. There were thirty three of them and of a rather unusual format, 47 x 30 cm., a series of photos titled Photographic report: A seven-day Meeting with Roman Opałka, Dąbrówno near Grunwald, around 1975!
ms1, 36 Więckowskiego St, entrance from 43 Gdańska St, reading room
Woliński decided that since the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź has the work called OPALKA1965 / 1-∞, detail 1-35327, i.e. the first of the so called counted pictures which Opałka painted until his death, it would probably be interested in ‘some unknown photos of the artist’.
It is known that Opałka rarely invited photographers to his studio. While the ‘reportages’ of Czesław Rzepliński and Witalis Wolny are known for their photos were both shown at exhibitions and published in the press and catalogues, Woliński's report remained unknown.
So, how did Woliński manage to photograph Opałka? Well, Janusz Woliński had a studio in a block of flats in Marchlewskiego Street in Warsaw (it is a building very important for Polish art history, for example Xawery Dunikowski and Janusz Stanny , among others, ran their studios there). His neighbour was Roman Opałka. They often met in the staircase, sometimes they visited each other. One day Woliński heard: “Our conversations are very nice; would you like to visit me in Dąbrówno? You could see my other studio where I paint; maybe you will take some photos?”
Janusz Woliński (born in 1938) is a graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology, but a photographer by vocation. When he was a child, he and his family were sent to Siberia. Since 1946, he has lived and taken photographs in Warsaw. In the mid-1970s, looking for and recreating traces of Frederic Chopin became his passion – for that he has travelled to Belgium, former Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA, Switzerland and France.
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