Painter, graphic artist, illustrator, cartoonist
Born in 1945 in Sopot.
Andrzej Dudziński studied architecture at the Gdańsk University of Technology from 1966 to 1968, and then interior design and graphic art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. He earned his degree at the Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw under the guidance of Henryk Tomaszewski. The artist interests lie in painting, drawing, graphic arts, posters, press illustrations, book design, stage design, film and photography. In his illustrations, he usually uses pastel and oil crayons, charcoal pencil or acrylic paints.
Looking back at his youth, the artist claimed that in Sopot “socialism mixed with pre-war traditions, and a small-town mentality with the cosmopolitan world”. Following the political thaw of October’56, the Polish Tricity was very popular among the filmmakers, student theatres, including the renowned Bim Bom Theatre, and the cream of society and artists who gathered in SPATIF, a legendary club of the Sopot bohemia.
As a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, he published his black-and-white satirical cartoons in a monthly Polska and weekly Szpilki and Kultura.
From 1970 to 1972 the artist lived in London where he came into contact with an outstanding painter and illustrator Feliks Topolski who is said to recommend Dudziński, who was looking for a job, to underground magazines. Shortly after, Dudziński started working for OZ, Ink, Frendz and Time Out. The artist was inspired by the lack of censorship, moral freedom, and an unlimited access to flourishing pop and high culture. With his first commissions for drawings, Dudziński found himself in the melting pot of the bohemian London, which was enjoying the achievements of the 1968 “young revolution”. He found his place drawing cartoons in a precise stroke and complex psychedelic colours, as well as deriving inspiration from an arsenal of erotic, obscene or fantastic motifs of pop-art.
After his return to Poland, with some help from his wife, Magdalena Dygat, he made contact with the literary and artistic elites of Warsaw of that time (including Jonasz Kofta, Pod Egidą Cabaret, Salon Niezależnych/Salon of the Independent). Soon after, he began to receive commissions for theatre and film posters, such as Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew staged at the Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw, 1976. At that time he realised his artistic talents simultaneously in different art fields. The artist re-established his cooperation with a satirical weekly Szpilka. On its pages, he created the contesting Dudi bird – an alter ego of the hippie artist. In addition, Dudziński cooperated with such magazines as: Literatura, Kulisy, Ty i Ja and Polityka. Later he began working with the Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita dailies, Literatura, NaGłos, Polityka, Projekt, Przekrój and Radar.
Dudziński’s imagination is rooted in Surrealism. It expresses itself in a grotesque resizing of forms, an absurd sense of humour apparent in turning the order of the world – of people, animals and objects – upside down through surprising mislocations and the overlapping of collage techniques, drawing, painting, as well as an intuitive and arbitrary use of colour. These features are particularly noticeable in the first cover designed by the artist for “Ty i Ja” (June 1970), a monthly that cooperated with the most acclaimed Polish graphic designers. A few years later Dudziński left Poland again and moved to the West, first to Holland and France (1976), and then to the USA. At that time the artist got back in touch with Roland Topor who was a great fan of the Dudi bird. In 1977 the artist attended the International Design Conference held in Aspen, Colorado, and afterwards settled down in New York. There, he worked for such prestigious daily newspapers and magazines as: The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, The New York Times, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, Time, as well as a number of major publishing houses. Simultaneously, he kept publishing his works in many European newspapers and magazines. The artist also designed for such companies as AT&T, Condé Nast, IBM, Deutsche Telekom, or Royal Bank of Scotland. In 1981 Dudziński was offered a post of a lecturer at the Illustration Department at the Parsons School of Design in New York.
Dudziński’s cooperation with the “New York Times” required him to revise his colourful stylistics in favour of black-and-white illustrations. The artist met needs of the editorial office with success. He was renowned for using a refined metaphor, a skill he developed while trying to circumvent the socialist censorship in Poland. His “NYT” illustrations were signed “Jan Kowalski” – the Polish equivalent of John Doe – and carried political and anti-soviet overtones, often featuring microscopic silhouettes of people helpless in front of a system represented by a symbolic and overwhelming in size form or object. (Uchodźcy polityczni – sylwetki / Political Refugees – Profiles, “The New York Times” 1981). Many of these illustrations were also published in “Nowy Dziennik” – the largest Polish newspaper in the United States.
After having returned to colour illustrations, commissioned by “The Boston Globe”, among others, Dudziński reached in the early 1980s a formula, which to this day is considered to be representative of his unique vivid style. He developed it on a black coarse paper selected as a perfect background for ideas of the artist who used oil crayons of a Swiss company Caran d’Ache. The crayons produce the effects of both drawing and painting. When dissolved in tempera, they can easily create a colour area. The deep black or dark blue background highlighted the colourful and contrasting motifs suggestively underlined by a bright contour. Such is the theatre-based series Widzowie / Spectators created for an exhibition at the National Theatre in London in 1983, or a series of illustrations for 1992 IBM calendar. In the Widzowie / Spectators series of busts, Dudziński gave way to his ironic and grotesque reading of a human body which he transforms into a mask, a phantom, a robot’s head, or “a bird-man”. The grotesque character of these images is achieved through juxtaposing a conventional pose of the portrayed “model” against a series of forms ranging from organic shapes to distinctively drawn polyhedrons and spheres.
At the end of the 1980s and beginning of 1990s Dudziński created another famous creature: Pokrak was briefly described as “a ball on legs with the eyes of an insect” by Johnangus Mackay. First, Pokrak appeared as a motif on the artist’s paintings, however since 1992 the creature was featured for 6 years in Tygodnik Powszechny where Dudziński published a weekly satirical mini-column. The rhyming texts said by Pokrak, and with time also by his friends, were praised by Czesław Miłosz himself, who associated this pure nonsense humour with the tradition of Zielona Gęś / The Green Goose by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński. While Stanisław Barańczak consequently called Pokrak Sancho Pansa, whereas Dudi was considered Don Quixote on the stage of Polish culture.
Apart from satirical illustrations, Dudziński created other works of a different character. In a series entitled Koperty / Envelopes the artist did not hesitate to make use of big yellow envelopes. As a starting point, the artist used a strategy of coincidence, or traces left on an envelope during its journey from the sender to the addressee. Dudziński used crayon, primer, acrylic paints, or lead pencil on the yellow surface. As a result, he showed his talent as a late successor of action painting or abstract art representatives who appreciated the painting texture achieved by means of spontaneous usage of a colour area or stroke, as well as an emphasis on the sensual and expressive qualities of paint, colour and stroke.
Between 2002 and 2006 he taught at the School of Visual Arts and New Media in Warsaw. In 2002 he has begun work on a series of digital images.
In 2014, one of the events accompanying the opening of the new Szczecin Philharmonic was an exhibition Music on Canvasduring which Dudziński created its main exhibit Diptych painted in real time.
Andrzej Dudziński’s publications include: W dolinie ciekawości / The Valley of Curiosity (co-written with Magda Dygat; MAW, Warsaw 1997), Superptak Dudi / Dudi, the Superbird (WAiF, Warsaw 1996), Kino Andrzeja Dudzińskiego / Andrzej Dudziński’s Cinema (WAiF, Warsaw 1996), Pokrak (Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 1998), Fotografia na czas / On-Time Photography (WAiF, Warsaw 2001), Mały alfabet Magdy i Andrzeja Dudzińskich / Little Alphabet of Magda and Andrzej Dudziński (co-written with Magda Dygat; Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2009).
One of the most significant publications devoted to Dudziński’s art is a monograph entitled Andrzej Dudziński edited by Joanna Szczęsna (WAiF, Warsaw, M.M. Art Books Inc., New York 1996). The book includes a list of numerous (also international) publications on the subject in question. The artist’s website features an extensive collection of his art: www.andrzejdudzinski.com.
Dudziński has been honoured with many prestigious awards, both in Poland and abroad, by: the International Book Fair in Berlin, Polish Society of Book Publishers, Society of Newspaper Design, The Arts Directors Club of New York, Society of Illustrators, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, and London Advertising Awards Committee, among others.
The artist’s solo exhibitions have been held in: Warsaw, Łodź, Gdańsk, Kraków, Szczecin, Legnica, Tarnów, as well as in New York, Washington, London, Tokyo, Hamburg, Geneva, Prague, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Düsseldorf.
Reference: culture.pl, 2023