Sunday, August 9, 2020 -
Print Edition

Desire for beauty: Art and words of Withold K.

Witold, a proud father, holds a photo of his son, Wit, now 14, taken while the youth was vacationing in Egypt.The art of Witold K. has taught Witold and painted a fascinated a great many people over the years, and mystified perhaps even more.

They have seen in his creations the elements the artist has intentionally put there — diminutive and lost-looking human figures, enigmatic black holes both terrifying and beautiful, images vaguely reminiscent of the American Southwest or of Eastern Europe, muted earth tones and vivid rainbow hues.

They have also very often seen, or felt, something less plainly evident — themselves.

Witold himself, like any artist worth his salt, doesn’t suffer questions about what his paintings, sculptures, frescoes, photographs, stage sets, posters or album covers actually “mean.”

“I am haunted by questions,” he once lectured art students at Seton Hall. “For me, true art is just one of them. If a paint- ing is only an answer, it is not art; just an illustration.”

Critics and commentators have compared his works to the fiction of Kafka. Others see the influence of Picasso, who once portrait of him.

Many have speculated about how the events of Witold’s own life — the heartbreaking tragedies, dire frights, dramatic intrigues, artistic triumphs, eerie near-misses — have crept into his art.

Witold says he doesn’t know the answer to that question himself.

He once suggested that viewers regard his paintings as mirrors. “Think about yourself,” he said, “and forget the painter.”

He said that at a lecture in 1978. Today, a few months away from his 80th birthday, he seems less enamored with such mysterious phrases, more comfortable with straightforward simplicity. On a simmering late July day in Denver, in the Cherry Creek house that serves both as his home and his gallery, Witold doesn’t duck or shy away when asked to define art.

“Desire for beauty,” he says without pause. “That’s all. And everybody has that.”

The rest of this article is available in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email.

Chris Leppek

IJN Assistant Editor |

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