extracts from a speech made during the presentation of «flame of peace»
| –––tony vinzens – art gallery bachlechner, 23rd august 2008
––––It was the summer of 1981 and we waited anxiously for Jan Janczak, who had travelled to his native Poland. ‹We› being his wife Anna, 4 year old Weronika, a newly born David and all the artists’ friends. We were concerned because soviet tanks had surrounded the woods of Warsaw. The peaceful Solidarity revolution of 1980 was in danger. Jan was aware of the risk that he may not be able to return to Switzerland, a country he had grown to love as a Polish artist.
––––My introduction provides part of the answer to the question why Jan Janczak has been awarded the Flame of peace. The biography I wrote in 1999 «Jan Janczak - selected works from 1996 - 1999» contains a quotation from Jan: «I understand my work as a protest against the barbaric.» As a six year old boy Jan Janczak was confronted with a barbaric event - The Second World War. He experienced fear, escape and uncertainty over the whereabouts of his father, leaving a lasting impression on him. During his childhood Jan and other artists were later influenced by a Nation that stood between freedom and tyranny.
––––There are innumerable pictures by Jan Janczak in which I recognise the Poland where he spent important years of his artistic life. He represented this Poland with images of humans who live expressionless in line, without vision of the future. There is, however, another Poland represented in some of his work (…) light moments of a better future, an optimistic community. Jan represented this in pictures depicting celebratory feasts, story telling, a multi-coloured bouquet, flying fish, or as a violin player.
––––Prior to Solidarity he dreamt the desires of Polish society and expressed them in his pictures. It was a silent protest against the foreign threat. On canvas he painted an indication of the fight to retain humanity under extremely unfavourable conditions.
––––Jan’s protest against foreign invasion which once again choked his country was expressed in his illustrations in the book «The Red Poppy of Monte Cassio». Written in 1983 the book is dedicated to all Polish people who lost their lives in the fight for freedom and survivors who are fighting on.
––––Some works of Jan continue sentiments from the book «The Red Poppy of Monte Cassio». Thus our artist expresses the human longing for happiness, harmony and living together in peace. There are, however also references to the danger that this longing cannot be realised by force and in his pictures the role of women are as the wheel of life and hope.
––––Today the honour of «Flame of Peace» is dedicated to an artist, a painter who rightfully deserves it through his works, our dear Jan Janczak. His paintings represent the core beliefs of UNESCO that peace is only sucessful if it is anchored in the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind. From my point of view art suceeds and is particularly impressive when it increases the freedom of humans.
––––Jan’s painting «Scream in Bosnia» is a dark reminder of terror that is overriden by symbols of hope. He represents individual human existence with passion. The interpretation of his work enriches our own soul, making us more sensitive to other human beings.
––––In response to my question «How would you represent Peace in a picture?» someone replied; «As a huge, calm, flat void, without humans» Jan Janczak’s pictures represent the human condition of peace that must always be fought for. In this way Jan is able to express his soul. We would like to congratulate you dear Jan by this honour in your recognition of human beings who are selflessly fighting for peace in this world.