Like a narrow wooden bridge over a mountain brook ……
Only about one century ago, walls of the sitting-rooms in the Orawian cabin-like houses were decorated with rainbow-coloured picures painted on glass presenting Madonna or holy images of Jesus Christ himself or the Saints as well as the well-known portraits of the famous local heroes, such as robbers with their mistresses. In the dimmed light of these low ceiling rooms it was hard to see the clear contours of the pictures. In daylight the rays of sunshine were reflected in the coloured glass panes while in the twighlight time the flames of fire in the fireplace or a simple lantern flickerred mirroring themselves in Stanisław Wyrtel’s paintings.
And that is what the paintings of Stanisław Wyrtel from Zubrzyca in Orawa land are like – full of bright white-gold reflections, sometimes purple and blue depicting the world of good and evil, telling tales about warmth of the fire and cold of the snow. From such a wide range of colours and hues, the figures of Saint Patrons emerge, which ones also found in most local road shrines – among them, most dear to Stanisław Wyrtel’s heart – the Holy figures of Madonna, especially the Pietas /mourning Madonna/ so intimately related with man’s fate. While looking at these paitnings on glass it is impossible to be moved by their spirit. Here nobody can refrain himself from enering and sharing the suffering of the Saints, living close to Orawa sacrum on this magnificent Orawa land.
Someone has written in a visitor’s book during one of the exhibitions held by Stanisław Wyrtel: “Saint Francis of Assisi used to say: a craftsman needs two things only – his hands and his head. But to be an artist, heart is also needed.”
Undoubtedly Mr Wyrtel’s pictures are painted with heart. They emanate great love for his native Orawa land, its tradition and culture. His artistic skills made it possible to convey it in a simple form easily captured by the viewers, although still innovative and unique. These forms are like a bridge between Orawa cabin-like houses and the turn of 20th century – a narrow wooden plank over a swift mountain brook.
STANISŁAW WYRTEL was born at Zubrzyca Górna at the foot of Mount names Babia Góra in 1956. When he was a child he tried to transfer the world that surrounded him into a drawing paper.
A graduate of the secondary Technical School of Regional Architecture in Zakopane he started working in Orawian Ethnographic Park where he is still employed. It was just here where the Orawian wooden houses cast a spell on him with their smell of smoke, dimmed-light interiors only sporadically woken with rays of sunshine, colourful lights and shades, and where he became fascinated with passing of time.
That is why there is a touch of fairy-tale to be found in his paintings, also of a night dream or a spirit of prayer. Despite of the fact that his pictures are not painted with the thick black line or present a realistic composition they still tell a definite story to move our hearts and teach a lesson. What kind of? First of all of loving one’s own land, secondly – of great sensitivity to temporary beauty of both colour and light and finally of making homage to the Almighty Creator.
This unique style of painting on glass carried out by Stanisław Wyrtel made him become a member of Polish Folk Artists Association in Lublin in 1987. Since then he took part in numerous exhibitions of folk craft artists all over Poland. His first individual exhibition of pictures painted on glass was held in Cracow at the “Millenium Gallery” in 1990.
Then his pictures were exhibited in many domestic exhibitions in Bielsko-Biała, Gliwice, Kielce, Cracow, Rabka, Radom, Sieradz, Warsaw and Zakopane. They were also admired by the visitors in art galleries in the neighbour country of Slovakia, and later also in Vilnius /Lithuania/, Nürnberg Germany/, New York, in Sarrequemines in France during EXPO’91 International Exhibition.
But Stanisław Wyrtel has always been faithful to his native Orawa. In 1994 in the Orawian Ethnographic Park his private Gallery of Paintings on Glass was established. There his pictures can be seen in a natural interior of an old wooden house heated with warmth of an old stove. The author enjoys talking to the visitors of his gallery in person – telling stories about his beloved Orawa and its interesting culture. He always treats his gallery as a kind of school of tradition, the place where one can discover and develop one’s own identity.