Currently, at the WPB Gallery, there runs an exhibition of paintings by Magdalena Nałęcz entitled “Lśnienie” [Eng: “Shining”]. All the works form an emotional landscape, immersed in the colors of nature. The seemingly consistent images, in bright colors, imitate the sun – kind of emanation of light, of cosmic entourage, where anthropomorphic features are hidden under the visual layer. While observing the viewer the images hypnotize his/her inner sensitivity. We can sense we are being observed by art which concurrently seduces us through reflexes, flickering and shining. The analysis of freedom, space and movement is illustrated by an artist in a simple but dynamic performances. This also involves concentration and focus on spiritual matters, perceived by the visual sense of the light energy. The power of the Shining series is rooted in the archaic art, intuitive communication, meditative fascination as well as in the white-washed peace. Magdalena Nałęcz’ subtle play on emotions is symbolized by both color and form, where the most expressive are … holes. They were intended by an artist to symbolize inner emptiness but also a pointer to certain, unconscious and dreamlike dreams.

The paintings displayed at the exhibition are a metaphor of a relationship, affecting imagination though the power of color and some certain animated visual story. It is achieved by exposing the detail, capturing the moment, sketching the mood of the moment. The allegory of objects that lure with radiance make us reflect both on our reality as well as on our imagination of its essence. It is not just a mysterious structure, but it is also a profound metaphor of art and man which, as typical for abstract compositions, becomes a world of space and form, of mystery, of stains and brushstrokes. Thickness of paint is of great importance here as it gives the effect of a multi-colored light source which emanates from the image.

Marta Półtorak (translation Anna Surowiec)



The series “Summer Days, Summer Nights” by Magdalena Nałęcz is a seemingly unconventional compilation of styles and forms that strongly hypnotize with a painting aspect of the relationship between the artifact and the structure of sensuality. When looking at paintings we get enchanted and captivated by an elusive but a precisely captured world. This is (non)reality that flows between the shades of strong colours and the subtlety of pastels, where colour conveys emotions. Slowly, with no haste and literality the viewer is driven by Magdalena Nałęcz into the world of subtle eroticism. The artist uses a symbolic narration – she suggests and invites to search the traces of passion. Symbols, colours and fruit serve this purpose. They convey the elusiveness of what seems not to be but what strongly indicates its presence. The artist focus on landscapes inspired both by the Mediterranean climate Kraków itself. The works penetrate these two different worlds to create their own original way to envision and capture the elusiveness of a moment on canvas. The artist shows us a landscape which, under the layer of presumed steadiness, triggers an avalanche of impressions and emotions that are not only dynamic associations, but above all are a form of the mystical role of memory. The pieces, fragments and crumbs of that memory from images where light and colour create their own story. Fruit, as a conglomerate of both colour and canvas texture, plays a significant part in the composition. The works overflow with intimacy, with an almost sensual relationship of the artist with both the painting and her inner self. Sensual charm is added to the exhibition by the use of pastel colours which, being heavily red from time to time, are combined with the shades of pink, amaranth, pistachio and violet. It is this kind of sexuality the artist wants the viewer to see in her works in the first place. The works themselves are combined in a series of the symbol and landscape painting. This art is the one deprived of literality, heavily affected by the symbol and its impact power. What is found between the landscape and the symbolism of the fruit are the connections that seem to be a kind of living harmony, an attribute of renewed passion which warms the air and illuminates darkness of the night – not only of the astronomical one. The cold colours slowly turn into the strong ones to become a reflection of the sun and its energy – yellow remain the predominant tone to reflect gold and light. According to the artist, Magdalena Nałęcz, the new series of paintings is a fascination with the emotion of colour, the love for which was instilled in Magdalena by prof. Jan Szancenbach. Another reason for the series to rise was the dreamlike atmosphere captivated in the movie, directed by Luca Guadagnino, titled “Call Me by Your Name”.

Marta Półtorak (translation Anna Surowiec)



Two elements. On the „Lśnienie” [Eng: Shining] by Magdalena Nałęcz

Long time ago Eugene Delacroix stated: “Nature is our dictionary which we search for words in”. It must be stressed that “Lśnienie” is both a beautiful and a wise word at the same time. The very gliding of the first two consonants (in Polish) indicates what kind of delicate displacement we are about to encounter. Looking at the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz, an expert in the dictionary of nature, there can be no room for any doubt – the title of the exhibition accurately introduces us to the essence but it is no less interesting beyond the essence itself.

The act of creating the painting world of the Kraków artist involves bringing two elements to life – air and water. And that is more than enough. Vast stretches of the sky combined with the endless expanse of the seas create a coherent, complete and engaging world.

The history of the dialogue between the two elements is, from a formal point of view, a continuation of the painterly curiosity of many artists of the previous century: the gradually autonomized colour and texture being the record of the artist’s gesture or its subtle blurring.

The “duality” of Magdalena Nałęcz’ painting can also be observed on other dimension. The exhibited works intrigue with the balance between the tangible concrete and the metaphor – between the journalistic record and the suggestion of a deeper meaning that was calculated in memory and born from the individual experience of nature.

Water and air inspire the artist to perform painterly meditations; with care and tenderness she (the artist) observes textures, analyzes the play of lights and is able to create the entire theatre from a single cloud, which clearly refers to the greatest tradition of the Kraków landscape painters.

Among the painted dramatis personae of “Lśnień” [Eng: Shining] there is no human to be found which is not at all the same as an inhuman or inhospitable landscape. There is a captivating openness in these paintings, and their humanistic character arises not from a generic staffage but from an attempt to restore the Young Poland metaphor of a landscape as a state of the soul to the viewers; nature as a description of inner life.

The presented works are perceived by me as a collection of painterly variations on the theme that constitutes personal records created from different points of view, feelings and workshop temper rather than a narrative sequence led along the epic thread to the ball of reasoned conclusion. “Lśnienia” [Eng: Shinings] are paintings about sensing.

Many lyrical subtleties are found in the pale lights of the whirling clouds of the “Lśnieniu II” [Eng: Shining II] or in the blurred horizon line in the ninth painting of the series. On the other hand the eights canvas of the series breathes the atmosphere of the 17th century Dutch marinas and it is hard to resist the impression that, just as Rauschenberg erased the painting of de Koonig years ago, Magdalena Nałęcz “erased” the sea battle of the old master to leave us in the blissful vastness of the undisturbed sky and to restore peace and freedom of the expressed space to the painting.

For a change, the “Lśnienie XVI” [Eng: Shining XVI] is nobly pale and strikes with a sensual suggestion a fresh wind counterpointing the fifteenth image of the series with billowy cumulus clouds covering almost the entire image field.

Apart from the expressively distant variations there are also selected pairs of paintings, such as “Lśnienie VII” [Eng: Shining VII], that constitute the variation of its numerical predecessor, repeating its composition, though expressed in dim (pessimistic) tones. Formal analogies with a completely different mood can be found in my favorite “Lśnienie XIII” [Eng: Shining XIII]. The amount of pleasure that can be found in tracking pink clouds reflected in the rhythmically waving water is only experienced by the canvas viewer.

Following the well-composed variations, the main theme of “Lśnienie” [Eng: Shining] travels not only through colourful tones but also through different paces. Full of verve and energy, the wide brushstroke of cloudy paintings turns in the sixth canvas into an undisturbed cheerful morning, almost like from the paintings of Paul Signac and, similarly to his works, uses the short, jagged brushstrokes to leave a textural trace forming a decorative pattern.

And again polar diversity is encountered. The “Shining XII” appears to be mirror-like and the valuable modelling – nomen omen – shines like a polished surface, quite unlike the eighteenth painting of the series, built with a relief, swirling in unpredictable weaves, texture.

Going beyond the scope of oil works, another binary can be detected in the “Shining” series. Although seemingly similar, the watercolors of Magdalena Nałęcz are diametrically different from her oil paintings. When using water-based paint, the artist perfectly senses the stain flow as well as the unevenness of the colour intensity, which determine the medium nature. She creates synthetic compositions, reduced almost to the sign, fusing water and air into an abstract symbol. Watercolor works are totems of light, a momentary observation of the shining.

However, here as well it is possible to see how the artist was planning the subsequent works as links in a variant chain. From the first watercolor, beaming with orange and dense yellow, through the fine plum purples of the watercolors numbered as two and five, the mandala-related watercolor number six, the gloomy olive greens of the watercolor number seven up to the coda of the watercolor series – the work, marked by the artist with the number nine, where the yellows, being the emblem colour of light, blend with the purple. And once again, the artist manages to combine the two seemingly incompatible elements.

There is a reason in that the words ‘shining’ and ‘reshining’ are differentiated by a prefix, which brings an effect if being to see great skies and endless seas, which Magdalena Nałęcz chose from the “dictionary of nature” and found her own personal expression of them.

Paweł Bień (translation Anna Surowiec)



blog by Marta Półtorak ART O SZTUCE [Eng: ART ABOUT ART]

The unreality of landscapes emanating from the painting is the titular abyss, vastness, depth – a kind of dialogue between darkness and light that is present in each of us. The exhibition by Magdalena Nałęcz titled “Otchłań” [Eng: Abyss], held at the Palace of Fine Arts in Kraków, is a presentation of a narrative painting. The artist walks the viewer through the territories of unexplored shades of realities that are the mirror of the human soul darkening. Through disturbing visions in a range of light and black Magdalena Nałęcz introduces a hypnotic mood. Although paradoxically it creates an atmosphere of both terror and heaviness, it is also captivating enough to make the viewer be fascinated and encouraged to almost physically “enter into the painting”. This is achieved through wonderful forms that are both tempting and terrifying. It is actually possible to sense fear and hope as well as peace itself. It is a kind of self-soothing feeling that the worst is behind us. Or maybe this is just the calm before the storm? Painting of the “Abyss” series convey the written states of emotions that show the ephemeral landscape, which is both the key and the allegory. The painting of Magdalena Nałęcz consists in the use of light and shadow in a way that the light is somehow “born” from the shadow but at the same time the shadow is lightened by it. As Jacek Kawałek states in the text accompanying the exhibition: “[…] the artist skillfully opens the door to the labyrinth of our emotions. She points the way through which we reach the limits of the “depth”. The “Abyss” series includes the artist’s painting in the world of contemporary symbolic art.

Marta Półtorak (translation Anna Surowiec)



The desire for infinity.

It is a great pleasure to be associated with the work of Magdalena Nałęcz. The way she creates her paintings shows the class we have been accustomed to bye the ladies of Polish art – Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa or Olga Boznanska. A few months ago I was looking at the “fresh” and unpretentious miniatures of painting, the sketchily-treated marinas that got each time to the heart of the painting problem – an original problem, formulated by Magdalena Nałęcz in the form of a new working hypothesis. I was convinced they were compositions with no title. I was also convinced that her “large format” paintings, prepared for the Rzeszów exhibition, would be full of female empathy and aesthetic coquetry and would be of a “towel” form – that is narrow and vertically arranged rectangles. Meanwhile, on the back of the great format painting “towels” I read a title of the whole series: “Abyss”. Pandemonium! The mother of all demons promoted by modern pop culture? I knew that at some point Magdalena Nałęcz would turn towards the painting rhetoric – even the one that would the paradoxical uniqueness of abstract painting. I try not to confuse the rhetoric of a painter with a narrowly defined “literary-like” narrative. But “the Abyss”! An eternal problem. Epistemological, ontological as well as eschatological. It has always been present in the world of art. In the era of modern social modernism it has been evoked by the satanic message of the works by Baudelaire and Lesmian. It takes great courage to attack such idea. To be able to present in a painterly way the perception through nothingness, like for example, blessed Anna Katarzyna Emmerich. A collection of his photographs from Iceland, “tuned” similarly to the “Abyss” of Magdalena Nałęcz, Paweł Klarecki titled “In the abyss of the landscape”. For that reason the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz are perceived by me through the transparency of ordinary earthly synonyms of the abyss, including distance, ocean, infinity, boundlessness, bottomlessness, vastness, immensity, exorbitance. For me, these compositions end the metaphysical text hidden in them. However, the “dense” form and the painting “culture” of these is greatly admired by me. By operating the stereotypically “earthly” images of space and light, and at the same time referring to her works as “Abyss” the artist complicates perception. In the minds of “co-viewers” she activates a specific psychological filter. In doing so, the artist reverses the meaning of the painted image. She mentally transforms the light and space of these images. Their earthly appearance becomes the opposite of the ordinary reality. But do we actually interact with the space and light of the “abyss”? The current works of Magdalena Nałęcz differ from the earlier ones to great extent. She has enriched the variety of colour spots and improved their structure. She does not limit herself to the painting technique alone, although she skillfully draws painting knowledge and experience from a careful “reading” of works of both ancient and modern masters. Tasteful glazes stand next to “historical” impastos and turbo ‘action’ painting impastos. There appear “dots” forming the classic optional mélange. All of it as part of “viewing the canvas in a painterly way”. By perfecting the “color stains” she aims to specify the multi-colored chromatic “phases” on canvas and to systematize a universal lexicon of color combinations and painterly contrasts. She becomes a sort of philologist who studies the phraseology of the solar spectrum and specifies its lexicon and grammar. She skillfully opens the door to the labyrinth of our emotions. She points the way through which we reach the limits of the “depth”. The “Abyss” series includes the artist’s painting in the world of contemporary symbolic art. Citing Wiesław Juszczak, it can be said that the landscapes of Magdalena Nałęcz are truly “pure” and resistant to allegorical interpretation; they are free from what painters contemptuously refer to as “literature”. (…) What is more, a pure landscape is the kind of painting that can be used to express the artist’s symbolic attitude the most easily.

Jacek Kawałek (translation Anna Surowiec)



“I have thought for a long time that I have wings”

“Childhood Gardens,” a series of paintings by Magdalena Nałęcz, is an exceptional collection. In the middle of her life, the artist is painting pictures in which she returns to the days of her childhood. Is it an attempt at recapitulation of her life or rather an unusual and nostalgic journey back into the past, a retrospection and reminiscence of the most important places and emotions connected with them? Or perhaps breaking a spell of sadness brought by memories which are not very cheerful?

Magda’s journey into the land of childhood does not lead inside the happy walls of her family home. Quite the opposite – the house is omitted. Memories concern, above all, the gardens enchanted with reminiscence, some elusive moment remembered by the colour of a dress, the shape of a ribbon knot, the tying of booties. The garden space is safe: it is a shelter which allows dreaming. It is a hiding place in which a person grows up, becomes mature and comes out into the world. It is a place filled with profound experiences, failures and sorrows, but they are immersed in colour which will give comfort to the artist for her entire life. However, do not let us be deceived by apparent calmness of a well-kept garden. No idyllic image of childhood is there to be found. No birdsong can be heard – birds are unattainable and their voices are confined in a cage guarded by a beautiful but sad little girl. She looks like a doll or like a prop carefully chosen for the remembered picture, for the memory of a school badge on her arm and clean white knee-socks. She is waiting, motionless. She is dreaming. She feels the wings of blue butterflies, which she is going to spread much later, while painting another gardens. Intense colours throw very distinct light on little girl’s sadness. She is alone. She seeks for the strength and warmth of the wolf, a guardian of her safe garden. Only the memory of an excursion to the lake recalls a blithe moment of playing with her mother… Only then the heroine becomes again a laughing child.

The enchanted garden of Magda’s childhood is far from Frances Burnett’s secret garden where children perform their own rituals to help their friend recover. Yet both gardens seem to have one thing in common: the magic power to heal the soul. The power of wings that may carry us high if we make a little effort. Magda opened a garden which had been closed for years. I hope she will find roses there, and remember that she has wings to fly.

And we, while wandering around her childhood gardens, become engrossed in reading our own memories, warding off sorrows and searching for our lost wings. For, as Wisława Szymborska has said: “Everyone of us has their own childhood. We can safely say that it never ends, and it even comes back to us when we think it is irretrievably lost. This depends partly on ourselves how we are going to remember it.” So let us wander around Magda’s gardens, feeling the wings of her butterflies on our backs; feeling the warmth and strength of good wolves who will always protect us.

Magdalena Kąkolewska



It is a great honour for the capital city of Krakow to have Magdalena Nałęcz, who is no mean artist, creating her works of art here. Her physical attractiveness and spiritual air both prove the truthfulness of Giulio Paolini’s point; having placed two identical casts of Venus facing each other, he said that “beauty examines beauty.” To call Magdalena Nałęcz a celebrity would be a blunder. She is someone more than a star of the show business. She has joined the exclusive circle of Krakow women painters, such as Olga Boznańska and Hanna Rudzka Cybisowa. Her works have been noticed by gallery owners and art critics from Krakow. She is admired by connoisseurs and practitioners of such rank as Marek Sołtysik and Paweł Taranczewski. Very few Krakow artists have been thus distinguished.

Jan Szancenbach recognised perfectly the scope of her personality and the quality of her talent. As an experienced teacher, he discreetly observed her development. He weighed his words, knowing that one careless move may destroy even the most precious diamond. He obliged Magdalena Nałęcz “to find her own way.” Perhaps he meant by this fifty years of intensive and consistent work filled with faith in the ultimate success, because, according to the painter Józef Pankiewicz, this is the way to explore and assimilate the mysteries of the art of painting, in order to enter one’s own real way to work on easel paintings. Magdalena Nałęcz has found her own way. She has believed in metaphoric art and so she connects Jan Szancenbach’s artistic message with “listening” to multi-coloured desires and inspirations of the lyrical subject. Painfully genuine, because it comes from herself. She has proved it with her cycle of “The Cinnamon Shops.” Her views and painter’s practice were influenced by Sławomir Karpowicz. It seems that he persuaded her to take a “creative” risk, to “construct” a painter’s metaphor and poetic narrative as if taking the opportunity, incidentally, while working on her next easel painting. Perhaps he also persuaded her to cherish her personality incessantly. Such “practice” is as important as the process of painting itself. Such attitude produces, among other things, the paintings created with relation to the painter’s artistic journeys. Only few artists of Magdalena Nałęcz’s generation could compete with her in terms of the number of individual exhibitions, as well as the participations in collective exhibitions and plein-air painting, and the amount of her paintings. Yet, after all, the art of painting does not exhaust the full range of her artistic work. It is amazing how courageously and perfectly the artist allocates painting aids and conveyors of meaning.

In the works of Magdalena Nałęcz the motif of a garden appears as a “common place” for the artist and her recipients – topos koinos. It is an Arcadian topos, but not only that. The author takes up the role of Semiramis, of the poet Elżbieta Drużbacka and duchess Helena Radziwiłł… Here the possible resemblance comes to its end. “Paintings – Gardens” of Magdalena Nałęcz turn out to be the chronicle of her life. This is rather a hortus conclusus to which we are not invited. A frame of the picture becomes a wall enclosing the garden. The painting itself wants to be a replica of Eden or Hesperides Garden of the golden apples transferred to the blue land of Boreas. The inner garden where a beautiful gardener is tending her roses while woods are burning behind the walls of her gardens.

Magdalena Nałęcz usually restricts herself to “austere” thematic genres. While painting interiors or still life or landscapes, she discovers the possibilities of these artistic “instruments.” From time to time, and not by coincidence, she connects thematic genres within the confines of one motif. Equally, without dividing it into a “background” and the “foreground” she is showing Spain through objects: the archetypes of Cotan or Zurbaran and the view of Grenada or Seville. Or the Wawel Castle preceded by the bulbs of Allium sativum.

The essence of work created by Magdalena Nałęcz is its pictorial quality, meant as a quantifier of the work of art. It is the wisdom bequeathed to her in Rzeszów by Józef Gazda, and then in Krakow by Jan Szancenbach and Sławomir Karpowicz. It does not exclude an objective beauty as the synthesis of truth and goodness. The good eye and hand of the painter catch the heart of the matter, and thus they acquire their identity and character. Jan Szancenbach and Sławomir Karpowicz made Magdalena Nałęcz aware of the existence of the most important essence. The essence of painting. It was condensed in Ingarden’s “image,” a unit of artistic means. In the form of a picture saturated with painting to such a degree that the art of painting itself – not allowing to be divided into components – became a subject and content of the painter’s motif. Such “essence” was probably meant by Paweł Taranczewski when he wrote that “the Muses applaud from the Parnassus, crowning Ms Nałęcz with the Laurel of the Painting Art.”

Jacek Kawałek, Rzeszów 2016


„The Gardens of Love” Galeria pod Rejentem, Cracow, 2014

The art of love is like the art of painting: it requires technique, patience, and most of all experimenting together. It requires courage, you need to move further, beyond that which we used to call „making love.”

Paulo Coelho

In June the garden of Louise is most beautifully blooming
While its non-existence kills like an axe
Hanging from a rainbow under warranty of vision
It glows up into dazzling illumination of purple domes
In June the garden of Louise is most beautifully blooming

Andrzej Bursa

The Gardens of Love by Magdalena Nałęcz bring the smell of poetry and the sound of silence as delicate as the hot sun in Tuscany. The light whirling in brocade, falling down onto the eyelashes of an invisible spectator who hold his breath in rapture. Soaring cypress trees feed on the blood of sunsets, on the silver of the moon and blue dawns. In this silence there can be heard the whispers of invisible lovers. Where are they? Perhaps behind an azure curtain, drinking ruby juice of ripe pomegranates and laughing at us who watch them from the other side of canvas stretchers.

Watch out: here comes the invasion of Peacocks! The birds pass through picture frames, with the fans of their tails hardly fitting in there. Eyes of their tails are whirling like soap bubbles and they see everything penetratingly. They are like Indian princes adorned with jewels and diadems. Full of vanity and beautiful as gods. Trimmed with emeralds, sapphires and gold. Rainbow-coloured birds which were said to be phoenixes. They are not afraid of death or poisonous snakes. The poison does not kill a bird; it only makes the colour of its feathers more vivid. There are winding and inaccessible meanders that lead to the gardens of love. Both the Minotaur and cunning Ariadne know that. Whoever has enough courage to go deep into himself, will find himself. In the labyrinth, which is commonly called life.

Magda Smęder



The canvas frame does not limit any of my stories in any of its aspects. Can each story be told? I don’t think so. Although poets composing words tell what I cannot express in words. am on my way. I keep searching. I keep travelling. I cross countries full of beauty and deformity. I encounter amazing colours, gorgeous landscapes and disappointments of indifferent places, unwanted emotions, the mystery of museums where great masters are present as well as my family albums filled with memories, though not always easy, but also filled with lots of longing and joy. Outside the frame of the painting I look for my story. The frame, although restricting from its definition allows me to “close” my story and level my breath. That is why I paint.

White canvass is a mystery. I fill it in with the shape and colour creating a new unknown of my experiences and impressions.
Of delight, fascination, joy, happiness, fear, anxiety, longing, grief, passion, sadness, emptiness, loneliness. Each of us experiences these feelings. Those emotions closed within the canvas frame may be a mirror for each viewer whom I may help to look inside themselves. It is my earnest wish.

It is hard to speak about masters. It is hard not to speak about them as well. Professor Jan Szancenbach is my master. It is owing to His heroes – everyday objects, flowers, fruit straight from the garden and landscapes – I understood my way of non-verbal communication. Professor Sławomir Karpowicz showed me what time and its passing in art mean. It is hard not to mention other inspirations: Zurbaran, Ribera, El Greco, Coorte, Chardin, Delvaux, Chirico, Picasso, Braque. Viewing the masters’ paintings “charges my batteries”. The artistic expeditions of Prof. Brincken from the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts, that is the “journeys to the sources” I had the honour to take part in are also my journeys to MY OWN sources.
And a great inspiration.

My search defines the ways of expression I choose. It is not easy to precisely reflect a fragrance, colour, delight, fatigue or heart vibrations. Is it ever possible to paint the beauty of the Lithuanian sky or the delight over a beautiful object in the same way?
Let them be different then, let each viewer find in my painting their own key to understanding their emotions.

You cannot see a human being in my paintings. Seemingly. I paint a landscape, interiors, objects, accessories which accompany us in everyday life and through them I try to tell about all of us. Sometimes the objects surrounding us speak more about ourselves than the painted image.

In “Gardens” I try to put together my travel into a poem – even though without words. This is a poem about me, my nearest and dearest, those alive and the ones who have passed away. It is also about many stages of my search, which are also the search of each of us, although designated by different places and different people. Because each of us has their own “Childhood Garden:, “Garden of Love”, “Farewell Garden”… And I hope that by visiting my gardens you will find your own paths.

Magdalena Nałęcz


„Dream Factory” Elektor Gallery, Warsaw, 2011

he carnival period will soon begin. Dreams of costume balls, fancy balls, historical epoch balls come true in theatrical rentals of costumes and prop rooms. I like those places even if I cannot find my dream creation. These are the only places where I don’t mind the smell of naphthalene, in which Zosia who has been working in the theatre for 40 years does not hurry, drinking tea from a glass, remembers old actors, their costumes, canes, hats, gloves and the richness of their roles. On the walls you can see old photos of the actors, some of them signed… The time seems to have stopped in those props, objects with soul and history. What a pity to leave this place. As each of us misses the magic of the theatre curtain, the charm of the cinema, the curiosity of the lobby and at least a short glimpse at our dear actor.

And suddenly the smell of props room comes back to me. The shape of dummies, abandoned hats, instruments put aside a moment ago, even my beloved stars are looking at me from the old photos. No, I have not come back to the rental.
I am in Magda’s repository of memories.

We travel with Magda as in the old films, we can almost feel the smell of Humphrey Bogart’s cigarette smoke and whiff of Audrey Hepburn’s perfume. Old film tapes seduce us with their mystery and provoke to remember the film titles. Hardly open, or maybe rather not fully closed drawers are a mystery, the scales may weigh the past and present, the instruments evoke the tune memories. The magical world of film. Magda’s magical world painted from memories and dreams. A beautiful travel.
Also inside our heart.

Magda Kąkolewska


„From the cat’s point of view” Raven Gallery, Cracow, 2010

landscapes from the inside

…I have the impression that against the apparent peace and quiet something is always happening here.

The landscape in the farthest background of the painting is the most significant. It is painted sharply, as its motif has its solid, geometry and almost always a clear light. The brick buildings sometimes plastered with colour, all in all shining new roof tiles, the rhythms of windows and embrasures, a clear chromatic exclamation of the oxidised copper sheeting and sometimes the glare of the edge of the blue reflecting its richness in the window pane panel.

The sky. Apart from one dangerous state of affairs, and maybe it’s already after the storm? It is gentle also to the season. Recognizable historical shapes of the walls, bastilles, domes and bell towers. From afar? The sharpness of the painting form is definite here, as if the air space of the landscape was beyond the artist’s intention. The city where she lives, Wawel which she can always see, the roofs which are in Her perspective and painting experience. Magda Nałęcz paints these landscapes through and from beyond. Her paintings are like clearly intended staging, as the theatre before it, or Her theatre. The curtain in the paintings are the windows, and to be more specific, the excellent geometry of the window frame. It is only her space untainted by the error of perspective that opens something, allows some imagined, reflected, expected? Light enter from the landscape onto the foreground of the painting’s proscenium. And here it is, Her, the painter’s world, everyday life. The window sill – a shelf, a cupboard, a few paintbrushes and paints. Sometimes two cats, in the pose of sanctity. Puckish against the form of the painting because they are different in their nature from anything, different from ourselves, audaciously free and lazy. New paintings of Magda Nałęcz place the viewer in a definite situation: here it is, look. Look at what I can see, although I look from the inside, from my inside. Is it only from the room? from the looks collected in the photographic notes?.. But there are also different canvases, intimate records of single or double presence of objects. A bottle, jar, tin or pot. They may be the new, other actors whom Magda Nałęcz has called to the stage of her canvases. If they prove to be important, she will certainly assign them a role, she will find something important for herself to let them play. They may stand on the window sill, wander against the cats’ will beyond the edges, realities and recognizable spaces. But something different may happen as well… as it happens in the artist’s tormenting reality.

Adam Brincken, jesienią 2010 roku


„Travelling impressions” Galeria Nautilus, Cracow, 2007

Poseidonia rediviva

What an impressing number of solo exhibitions for such a young artist! And even more participations! Extraordinary diligence, indeed. Quite admirable these days, when most artists say to themselves what Pooh sighed to Piglet on a field under a lime tree: „If only we could feel like doing something as much as we feel like doing nothing”. Collages, landscapes, seafood and monotypes. (In a way this division makes one think of the Chinese classification of animals into, if I recall correctly, ‘lions, birds and emperor-owned animals.’) Two of these descriptors refer to Ms Nałęcz’s technique, the other two to her subjects. Landscape or seafood may be either in collage or monotype. End of criticism, what follows is pure praise. Firstly, Ms Nałęcz’s works are well made: not many artists bother this much about workmanship today. Secondly, she creates images. Thirdly, these are poetic images. Fourthly, she is preoccupied with the Mediterranean, Mare internum, yet not as seen from a window of a luxury hotel in Coillure: Ms Nałęcz looks at the sea from a fisherman’s boat, glancing at the beach and the coat, painting harbours, boats, shells and crabs. Sometimes she ventures into the land to paint a landscape in Greece, France or Croatia.
A gentle Zephyrus, one of the four wind gods, is blowing. Poseidon (not Neptune, we are in Great Hellas) looks kindly at Aphrodite painting with her long her dipped in the couloirs of sea foam. What bewitched me in Magdalena Nałęcz’s paintings is that there is absolutely nothing brutal, boorish, crude or stupid in them; instead there is a subtle, warm look at the man who, although invisible, is present in all these pictures. I was moved by a procession of nymphs. They danced off: the Dyads and Pan; the Naiads, Oceanids, Nereids, Oreads, Hamadryads, Leimoniads and Hesperides. The Gods of Olympus look down sipping their nectar and easting ambrosia, while the Muses applaud from Parnassus conferring a wreath of laurels upon Ms Nałęcz.

Paweł Taranczewski


„Travelling impressions” Galeria Nautilus, Cracow, 2007

Everyone have their won, different reality,
And the world is refracted differently through each of them.

The painter decomposes midday light: it goes through the prism of her paintings and begins to play pranks. On the surface all things are where they belong: boats having a siesta in a Croatian harbour; an guard of honour of cypress trees keeping vigil over a Tuscany landscape; the town of San Gimignano as medieval Manhattan; or mandalas of seafood in seafront taverns. But this Mediterranean world according to Magdalena Nałęcz also has its other face, animated by a scorching mystery that defies the viewer. Like mirages, paintings draw you inside, the cycles lead you along paths limited by neither space nor time. These gentle images are traps for tourists who crave for holiday sensations. Just focus your eyes and get lost in a maze of the palace floor, surrender to the independence of corners, lose your way amongst roads to the sea, know the power of unsurpassable walls and the helplessness of doors to the void. Dazzled by the noon sun, the traveller viewer follows the artist to reach the core: a lavish dinner of fiery prawns that cast a come-hither look as if trying to say Do not rust your eyes. There is nothing more misleading than senses.

Magdalena Smęder


„The Last Film Show…” Gil Gallery, Cracow, 2003

You have been here, painting.

– Now you have named the painting, maybe the series, maybe this exhibition “The Last Film Show…”
– In the inside of your canvases you have hung posters or photos-scenes-frames magnified to the real life scale.

– You have given them an honourable place, distinguished them by a slightly different painting style, as if warm in the touch of the paintbrush.

What is still in the canvases does not obscure them, it is next to them.

It is a meeting! Is this the last one?

There will come a time when looking at the life ups and downs of funny people we will stop rolling on the carpet laughing a whole lot.

Is it because instead of feeling the joy inside, we become less funny ourselves?

When? is the power of determination to chase along the roofs to the rescue a toddler over? Can we love as in “Casablanca”, to the last sip, to the last drop, against all odds, on the celluloid tape?

is it possible in life? once? or always?!

These dilemmas seem to accompany your painting.

After all, if they are truly ours, they are present! in the paintings.

Maybe, the paintings, themselves without the dilemmas might be different, or maybe they would not exist at all?

We don’t know since we don’t have to know each reason for our painting. Let others define the causes and reasons.

However, I think your world will always, and not for “The Last…” time wear a bowler on top, it will get nervous and cry, will whirl around and fling stones against the shop windows and sit for a long time gazing into the glass.

You clasped those poster-photos inside your paintings. And they, whether you want it or not, played in those films, your paintings, with metaphors.

– Grouping of tall and thin rectangles with the cry of light on the triangle pieces of mirrors,

on the table top became the Manhattan drama, and the dark blue glow around the chair with an abandoned piece of cloth on its back – a trace of someone’s physical absence,

– empty wardrobe, hardly marked with a line, piled blocks and rectangles at the bottom, a hung biology of pipes and trumpets at the top, half of a dummy and an open violin case in the centre…

– a film male character over a bottle sunk in brown patina, but outside the window and under the table a different world.

You have painted those meetings.

But is it “The last film show…? is it a farewell? is it a moment of reflection?… or maybe “the life has outstripped the cabaret”?

Adam Brincken

p.s. a month ago during a lecture at our Academy Bogusław Schaeffer said… “the structure of a work of art is always complex, only the poster is one-sided…”


Dominik Rostworowski Gallery, Cracow, 2000

Both the painting theme of still life taken up by Magdalena Nałęcz and the emotional way of its presentation suggest a few reflections of general artistic nature.

They regard the oil painting as a valuable object in itself, the place where it comes into being and a legendary complexity of the theme itself, which finds its expression in the artist’s creation. Let us start from the point that she represents a form of colourist painting, which loosely inscribes itself in postimpressionist traditions. It is not only a study of nature as it will not shun excess, a subjective vision of painter’s quotation or symbolic elements. However, it inherits the eye culture typical for colourists denoting respect for the masters, for beauty, for the atelier and the particular attitude to the painting as an object both representing and represented, which finds its best place on the gallery wall.

In this context, a leading Polish colourist, Józef Pankiewicz, compared the surface of a painted canvas to the sensually tactile natural or aesthetic materials, more or less precious, for example “the polished agate” in Van Eyck’s painting or “the melted ores” in Rembrandt’s paintings. But he also referred to the paintings constructed as if from soap or candies.

Referring to the above-mentioned comment and in view of Magdalena Nałęcz’s textured way of placing the paint layers and canvas tones, we might compare their surface not just to precious stones – we might reserve this comparison to the master paintings which we tend to admire many years later – but to the equally riveting rough surfaces of raw stones, both river and roadside stones, as well as those covered in moss. Also the place where the painting is created seems to have its significance.

In her case it is a little atelier in the attic, a cramped space of creative existence having a special impact on the paintings’ atmosphere. Let us add that the venue where a work of art is born does not always have such a special influence on it. However, in this case the confrontation becomes interesting. We might interpret it in the following way: the artist paints her atelier, that is the objects which have been for a while abandoned or forgotten come back to attention, side by side with souvenirs evoking memories. However, one of the characteristic motifs, evoking such interpretation of her painting are the appearing here and there cigarette butts partly scattered around the ashtray. Also the half-open, empty drawer of the workshop table as the space emptied of content becomes similarly symbolic. All this, filtered through form, colour and mood suggest emotional attitude to the object and even the time of the day, which usually seems to be the evening. As regards, however, the mentioned legendary complexity of still life in her paintings, according to its aesthetic message we ought to refer here to the history of art. As the artist captures three enormous and at the same time spectacular traditions of the subject area in European painting. She achieves this either directly through a travestied quotation or through the way of seeing. We may thus find in her paintings references to the classical seventeenth century Dutch still life. And here the study of the detail and ornamental nature of the object seems inspiring for her – according to the spirit of those old representations. There are also quotations of the Postimpressionists on her canvases, e.g. from Van Gogh, or finally some music motifs inspired by Cubists. As regards the two latter traditions, they are manifested in proper studio approach to colour and geometrical composition. The very legendary character of those references is expressed in our view by spontaneity and fascination with the topic, on which so many works of art have been created and which is still an everlasting source of inspiration for artist painters.

Antoni Szoska


Dominik Rostworowski Gallery, Cracow, 1998

Spain is an exceptional country, closing the western border of Europe, full of contrasts.
For ages it has been coexisting with many cultures, wonderfully merged into one melting pot between the Pyrenees and Gibraltar.
It rather seems to be the ground and stone than anything else, it is sensual and painfully sunk in itself. The Spanish peregrinations of a young painter Magdalena Nałęcz are her conscious choice, as she comes from Poland, the country closing the eastern borders of Europe. The country is marked with its complex history, rich tradition enhanced by the influence of other cultures, distinguished by the mental and artistic temper similar to the Spanish spirit. The artist presents to us her painting series at the exhibition, revealing her very personal attitude to the aforesaid reality. Magda pursues mature painting of expressionistic shade, highly personal, at the same time deliberately remaining in line with tradition. The theme of landscape provides a way of expression and assumes a certain attitude to life.

Her latest works remind us that the value of the land ought to be essential in human life, even if we live in cities walking on the tarmac under the concrete sky, the land is lying around us, primeval, covered only by the modern style of prevailing structures.

The artist skillfully draws up the curtains inviting us to a fascinating journey…

In the paintings on canvas she evokes landscapes, houses, lights, currently independent of certain geography. The burnt ground of Andalusia, the gentle slopes of Catalonia covered in olive groves, expressive views of Toledo, amazing Alhambra are the main motifs of the interestingly presented painting series. In those paintings, the aesthetic experience is the essential issue, whereas the reality moved aside to the background up to the point of creating a painted world of mystic and symbolic nature.
I have the impression that Magda Nałęcz reaches out to the essence in landscape painting tradition, making an attempt to achieve theological dimension of the landscape where on the apparently meagre ground she finds a place for God and the human being. The richness of the applied painting measures and excellent control of techniques enhances Magda’s painting, sounding exactly in tune with the themes. The artist consciously applies her own rule which corrects the initial affection and makes it truly serious.

Sławomir Karpowicz


„The City of Cracow Mayor’s Scholars” ZPAP Gallery Sukiennice, Cracow, 1997

The window in painter’s iconography is often interpreted as an expression of longing for freedom, unrestrained basking in light, space, movement; for what is distant but still within the eye’s reach, is motivating to give up the conservative stability and the tormenting hiding place.

The latest paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz often show the bottom part of a slightly open window, illuminating the dusk, brown and ochre interior of the atelier, where on the window-sills and table tops there is still life consisting of glass laboratory vessels and utensils (flasks, jars, measuring cylinders, medicine bottles), tin funnels, cups and also smoked mackerels piled on plates, as well as musical instruments (the violin, an old golden trumpet).

Despite this seemingly rational reality, the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz impact in the first place by vivid air, dense atmosphere of the dark interior, wherein light from the window extricates metaphysical flares and opalescence of nocturne colours. The previous cycles of the artist’s canvases known to me might be qualified as more bold in the penetration of the window space. They presented the views of the city (Cracow), a coherent labyrinth of buildings and roofs, from which it was so close to the liberating sky.

Now, as if from a hiding place, Magdalena Nałęcz can see the city through the ajar balcony door or through a part of a radiant window. Almost each of the artist’s latest painting is created out of those two spheres of “the light and shadow”, let alone the landscape motifs of Spain and intimate still nature, whose main characters are two killed trouts on the plate. I take my time observing carefully all the colourful harmonies and nuances, especially on the large canvases. They are more difficult to compose and it is much harder to create the atmosphere and warmth of personal experience in them.
A hardly visible shape of violin placed on a wooden stool against the window is marked by just one reflection of light along an exquisite bent.
The mute sound of violin is possible owing to the light. Owing to the sunbeams, the austere interior of the atelier becomes unusually charming and magical. I recall a poem by Józef Czechowicz, beautifully sung by Marek Grechuta:

“My beloved, the amber dandelions are bowing
the valleys are being eclipsed by the mountains shadow
quiet with supper…”

In the still nature of Magdalena Nałęcz, the golden ochre, curcuma, browns and more luscious accents of red create the bouquet, which is common also for many accomplished painters of Cracow. Having been creating it for a long time, they find their soulmates in the young artists.

Stanisław Tabisz



(…) Magdalena Nałęcz, born in Rzeszów in 1970, graduated from the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, let us add it was a Diploma with Honours. Her master and professor Jan Szancenbach, presenting the works of his students in 1995, wrote in his introduction to his alumni catalogue: “From that moment they will walk on their way (artistic – A.W.’s note) alone, maybe only now will they fully appreciate working in a team, which the academic atelier offers… A few years of working together allowed me to learn about their talents, personal predispositions, but also their diligence, enthusiasm and persistence in finding the beginning of their own way”. I am convinced the professor was not wrong. What Magdalena Nałęcz shows us at the present exhibition is as good an account of her talent as her academic diploma was.

(…) Magdalena Nałęcz is highly disciplined, ascetic, creating an eerie panorama of the city we would never be able to see but for her paintings. The paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz, both urban landscapes and still lives are the masterpieces emanating a type of focus, rare in art nowadays. Sometimes you have the impression that this young, just a 26 year old author, continuing her painting visions wants to cross some mysterious Rubicon and enter the world covered with what our eye is able to see every day. Therefore, we face the canvases focused, that is why we wonder together with the authoress what is further and further on… You will seek randomness in the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz in vain, her painting story is very logical in its own way and it is visible the decisions taken within the canvas space are repeatedly modified so that their final shape might lead us into a unique world of the authoress’ artistic accomplishments. The Cracow painter has chosen the right way as she has been trying to follow her individual way within traditional forms of painter’s expression, as still life or landscape are such forms. Someone wrote once that the Cracow of Magdalena Nałęcz is the bird’s eye view of the city. Indeed, the authoress selects as objects of her paintings unusual views of Cracow, its roofs, faraway spaces visible only from some highly situated places, where none of us would probably ever reach. It is also the Cracow without people, the Cracow of mysterious walls, composing into geometrical forms, the Cracow on whose roofs a sunbeam is roving and suddenly encounters a dusky wall of an old tenement house.
It is apparently our world. And yet, under the paintbrush of this Cracow artist it seems the world viewed from the other side of our reality.

Andrzej Warzecha


“From Our Artists’ studio” , The Townhall Tower, Cracow, 1995

With high sensitivity and fancy Magdalena Nałęcz paints still life, mysterious interiors and urban landscapes seen for example from the windows of the Academy of Fine Arts or the atelier’s attic. The paintings and drawings presenting still life, fragments of the interior of the atelier and Academy rooms composed her Diploma cycle entitled “Remembered Places”. The artist herself wrote about her works in the text enclosed to the cycle: “I select the objects for still life with the view to their form, colour or expression which captivates me. At the beginning I do not look for any symbolism in them, which may be included in their shape or function. If I place a skull in my still life composition, I do it in because of its rapacious form and specific colour. It is only in the process of painting, as a result of changes and new decisions when encountering other objects, that the skull may have multiple, possibly also symbolic functions. This single selected object becomes for me a pretext to constantly look for a new form of expression”. So, each object functions in the art of M. Nałęcz mainly as the way of subjective, intuitive expression, as for that purpose it has been introduced into a created painting space, and only incidentally, in its archetypal symbolic function.
This rule relates to a high extent also to the group of works displayed in the Townhall Tower. It must be noticed that the young artist pays a lot of attention to the expressive values of light. Another important factor directing dramaturgy is the perspective.
M. Nałęcz selects for her paintings and drawings architectural motifs viewed from an unusual perspective, from the upper floors of buildings, from the attics, house roofs, viaducts. It is an unexpected city, unusual for the passerby viewing it while walking along the street. It is rather a “bird city”, Cracow of the gliding pigeons and sparrows. The perspective of geometrical blocks of buildings presented from considerable heights often becomes disturbed. Another time, an element of architecture cropped out of a larger whole, transformed with light and colour starts living its own life. It is not easy to recognize in it the motif upon which it has been based – it functions independently, constructing a new, mysterious space. These architectural motifs, transformed by the artist’s imagination, disciplined by her sense of composition, are the most interesting. A characteristic, blatantly obvious feature of Magdalena Nałęcz’s paintings is the absence of a human being in that kingdom of objects. Yet, her expressions seem to be filled with a secret life. Magdalena Nałęcz is starting her artistic career. It is not possible to state now, which way her further artistic development will go. It is on the other hand certain that the painter is in the group of exceptional graduates of the Cracow Academy. Her modest, and at the same time attractive works raise undoubtedly high hopes for the future. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to the young artist and remembering her name.

Maria Ziętara



(…) the painting of Magdalena Nałęcz is rooted in that current of art where colour has played an essential role, both in constructing the composition of a work of art (building up space and light, balancing mutual proportions of the mass, sizes and weights within the canvas), as well as in shaping the atmosphere and expression of each painting. Against Polish traditions, which inspired the painters from the circle of the so-called “colourists” to draw directly from Cezanne’s (creating the form with colour) or Bonnard’s experiences (constructing the form with light expressed by colour). […] It could be said that the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz, in my opinion show some affinities with the art of a French painter Raoul Dufy (nowadays slightly forgotten). Certainly they have neither similar luminousness, as if based on stained-glass windows, nor equally sharp colouring, since in the paintings of Magdalena Nałęcz the dominant are shades of white, silver grey and black, only sometimes supported by a stronger touch of colour. On the canvas from the previous period, we used to observe more frequently colour solutions based on contrasts of the colour temperature and saturation. The space is quite often created by linear elements (as in case of Dufy – where “cartoon nature” is striking), and the patch of colour at times misses the linear form (another similitude to the afore-said artist’s concept). (…) in case of M. Nałęcz (…) the actual circumstances of the presented motif – interiors, still life, landscape – often lose their validity to the favour of “abstract” division of the canvas, consolidating its elements, monumentalizing the holistic composition. I wish to firmly state that these are not any borrowings of the style of any painter I have mentioned, but some affinities in solving similar problems. From several years’ observations of her work, I know she has reached those solutions by way of personal evolution and it is possible she might not pay closer attention to the work of those artists. Magdalena Nałęcz has graduated from the university this year and although her individuality is clearly marked, she is still at the beginning of her artistic career. Her painting will undergo transformations and further search for a more personal expression. Nevertheless, both a few years observations of her activity and some teaching experience (47 years of my job experience at the Academy of Fine Arts, wherein for 23 years I have been conducting the painting atelier through which hundreds of students have passed over the period) allow me to believe that the inborn abilities, the diligence which is seldom observed to be that great and a noble kind of creative persistence in exploring painting issues, which are her distinguishing features, will not allow her to give up the obtained artistic achievements (which unfortunately often happens in case of women) and she will explore, master and find new forms of artistic expression for her painting.

Jan Szancenbach, Cracow 1995


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