‘Graphic Collection of Portraits’ Karol Radziszewski — Henryk Walezy / EN

by Henryk Kwiatek

Serigraphy of Henryk Walezy opens a new series of works by Karol Radziszewski: ‘Collection of Portraits in Graphics’. This series shows the most famous non-heteronormative figures from the fields of art, culture, politics and history. It is no coincidence that the premiere of the collection takes place in June, the month of LGBT+ Pride

‘Freedom, equality, serigraphy’ is the motto of the Warsaw-based studio Kwiaciarnia Grafiki, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Collaboration with Karol Radziszewski and his series ‘Collection of Portraits in Graphics’ ideally matches the philosophy of the place where the works are created.

Kwiaciarnia Grafiki and Karol Radziszewski got to know each other by transferring other works with screens onto paper, which had their genesis in Karol's painting. The first was a serigraph of Piłsudski based on a painting which, immediately after the premiere exhibition, was purchased for a private collection. The publication of the serigraph allowed the inaccessible work to be made available again to fans of Radziszewski's talents. The feature of democratising access to art is one of the pillars of Kwiaciarnia Grafiki's activity.

The second serigraph, was a joint reaction to the tragedy that unfortunately is still taking place in Ukraine. Based on a painting by Łesii Ukrainki by Karol Radziszewski, a sale of serigraphy was launched. The serigraphy could be acquired for a donation to PAH or the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine. In this way, Karol, BWA Warszawa and Kwiaciarnia Grafiki together managed to collect and donate the amount of over 40 thousand zlotys.

The ‘Collection of Portraits in Graphics’ by Karol Radziszewski is the latest result of collaboration with Kwiaciarnia Grafiki. The serigraphy of Walezy, which opens it, is a continuation of the artist's experiments with the tradition of European painting, such as Picasso or Léger, who also transferred the painterly experience to the language of printmaking.

Following Karol and Kwiaciarnia Grafiki earlier collaborative experiments with the screen printing technique, they manage to develop a method that allows the artist to maintain the painterly gesture and solid stain of screen colour. In the ‘Collection of Portraits in Graphics’, colour is complemented by contour! The result is a composition full of both freedom and equality, so desirable in this day and age.

The ‘Collection of Portraits in Graphics’ also provides an educational layer to learn more about our queer ancestors. Henryk Walezy (1551-1589), a bisexual cross-dresser, was the first Polish king who did not inherit the throne but was elected by the Polish nobility. Other non-heteronormative figures from the fields of art, culture, politics and history are waiting in line .....

  • Author: Karol Radziszewski
  • Dimesion: 50x70 cm
  • Paper Munken Pure Rough 300g/m2 (acid free, age resistant paper with certificate (ISO 9706)
  • Circulation: 70+7ap copies
  • Signed and numbered
  • Water inks
  • Technique: hand silkscreen printing
  • Four colours

Henryk Walezy (1551–1589) — The son of Henry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici sat on the Polish throne at the age of 22, after the Jagiellonian dynasty expired. He was the first ruler not to inherit the throne, but to be elected by the Polish nobility. He arrived in Cracow, the then capital of the kingdom, in the beginning of 1574. His coronation in Cracow’s cathedral took place in February. However, in June of this very year and after spending no more than a couple of months in Poland, the king secretly fled Cracow and, travelling through Vienna and Venice, arrived in France to take the throne vacated after the death of his brother, Charles IX of France. He never returned to Poland, leaving behind a disillusioned kingdom in turmoil. Ultimately, he was deposed from his throne but never formally renounced his title as the King of Poland and the Great Prince of Lithuania. Allegedly bisexual, de Valois was a victim of many widely distributed homophobic and transphobic slanders manufactured in his native France. In Polish culture, he became a symbol of infidelity and betrayal. Taunting both his foreign clothes and effeminacy, homophobic allusions towards his non-masculine traits of character and conduct, emerged as soon as in the 16th century, just after his flight from Poland. The last traces of this contempt are still to be found in 20th century texts and paintings. Brought to life in order to serve politics, here, betrayal, otherness and non-normative sexual behavior have merged into one myth (a myth still alive in Poland until this day).

Karol Radziszewski (b. 1980, Poland) works with film, photography, painting, installations and creates interdisciplinary projects. His archive-based methodology, crosses multiple cultural, historical, religious, social and gender references. Since 2005 he is publisher and editor-in-chief of DIK Fagazine, and has founded the Queer Archives Institute in 2015.

His work has been presented in institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; New Museum, New York; VideoBrasil, Sao Paulo; Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana; Wroclaw Contemporary Museum and Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz. He has participated in several international biennales including PERFORMA 13, New York; 7th Göteborg Biennial; 4th Prague Biennial and 15th WRO Media Art Biennale.

His films have been screened at the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival, Wroclaw (2014, 2012); Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Warsaw (2019, 2013); BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival (2014) and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2011); among others.

In 2021, The Power of Secrets book dedicated to Radziszewski’s archival practice was published by Sternberg Press.