Interior with Wooden Sculptures Bogdan Ziętek (1932 - 2018)
Brzeźnica, Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Poland
About the Artist/Site
Born in 1932 in Tlukienka, a small village in the south of Poland, Bogdan Ziętek completed his education after attending primary school, as his parents couldn’t afford to pay for further study. By a young age he had already shown that he had artistic talent through the production of many paintings, and when after World War II his parents moved to Brzeźnica in Lower Silesia, Ziętek found work as a decorator and an illustrator. Later he would work for some sixteen years for a mining company. He retired in the early 1990s at age 59.
Ziętek, who still lives in Brzeźnica, is a man of various talents. He was a self-taught sculptor, but he also enjoyed making music; writing poetic, mystic and philosophic texts; working as a photographer for weddings and other festivities; and designing and sewing women's clothing.
His particular interest is sensitivity to beauty, which in his case focuses on the appeal of beautiful women. He has become especially well known for the series of wooden sculptures he has made of various female characters; around 14 are life-size and many others are smaller in scale.
He made his first life-size sculpture of a woman, who he named Eva, in 1960, when he was in his late twenties, a creation that took him several months to complete. In general, Ziętek makes his sculptures from the branches or trunks of lime trees, which he roughly shapes with a chainsaw, details with chisel and knife, smooths by prolonged sanding, and finishes by painting in natural, realistic colors.
Ziętek, who has developed an emotional relationship with his wooden women, said in 2005 in an interview: “Piękne kobiety są jak rwący potok - zaszumią, rozkochują i odchodzą (Beautiful women are like a rushing stream - they rustle, surprise and go).”
The wooden females, especially the fourteen life-sized ones, are well served by the artist in terms of makeup and hairstyle, and are dressed in clothing he himself designs and manufactures for them. They are placed indoors and as the life-size women stay in the living room or other parts of his living quarters, it appears as if they are part of the family or have just stopped by for a visit.
Altogether there are over 170 smaller sculptures (30-40 cm, 0.98-1.3’ high), including a few men. All of them are kept indoors as well, so it's rather crowded in his somewhat small house. In addition to his sculptures, Ziętek also paints in a style traditional to Polish folk art.
Museums in Poland and the local and regional press have shown a positive interest in his work. Ziętek’s wife Agnes was at first not very amused by her husband's artistic passion for wooden women, but partly because of the positive publicity and the approval of the museum community, she became accustomed to her husband's artistic passion and came to accept it.
Ziętek's work has been featured in various solo and group exhibitions in Poland, such as the Mazovian Museum in Plock and the Ethnographic Museum in Wroclaw (summer 2015). During January - February 2016 a selection of his creations was also exhibited in the Pomeranian Gallery of Folk and Amateur Art KPCK in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Due to his advanced age Ziętek is no longer actively producing new sculptures.
-Henk van Es
Update: Ziętek's health caused him to stop accepting visitors in 2017. He passed away May 28, 2018. Some of Zietek's work was purchased by the Museum of Everything in London, the Polish AK collection has four small sculptures and a dozen drawings, and the remaining work has gone to ethnographic museums in Poland.
Map & Site Information
Brzeźnica, Podkarpackie Voivodeship pl
Latitude/Longitude: 50.1024757 / 21.4853932
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