pastels by Ryszard Milek
(of Nowy Sacz, Poland)

77 Bank Street
New London, Connecticut

April 30 - May 26, 2005

61 Broadway, New Haven, Connecticut

Artist Reception: Sunday, November 23, 4:00 - 6:30 PM
November 22 - December 29, 2003

761 Boston Post Road, Madison, Connecticut

January 1 - February 12, 2004

761 Boston Post Road, Madison, Connecticut

March 8 - August 31, 2004



Ryszard Milek was born in Poland in 1955. He is presently one of the top five selling artists in Poland. He is an art historian & theorist, and graduated from the Secondary School for the Fine Arts in Tarnow, Poland and the Catholic University in Lublin, where he studied art history. He draws and paints, and also writes artistic critiques. In 1990, he organized an exhibition of Jozef Czapski's (1894-1993) paintings, one of the leading Polish European artists of the 20th century.

(Click on each image to view larger image.)
oil pastel, 26 x 36"
"Blue Illumination"
oil pastel, 26 x 36"

For several years, Ryszard was the art history lecturer at WSB-NLU (Wyzsza Szkola Biznesa-National-Louis University) in Nowy Sacz, Poland. He also taught art in primary and secondary schools.

"City Life"
oil pastel, 28 x 36"
"Face 1"
oil pastel, 42 x 28"
Ryszard is the Secretary of the Polish Pastel-Drawings Artist Association. He participated in more than 30 individual exhibitions in Poland, Norway, and the USA. He also took part in about 100 group exhibitions in Poland and Europe, and many plein-air painting events organized by the Polish-Drawings Arist Association.
"Harbour Landscape"
oil pastel, 36 x 26"
"Still Life"
oil pastel, 26 x 36"

In 1996, he was awarded First-Prize at the Polish Biennial of Pastel-Drawings. He is a member of the Association of Fine Arts and Poetry in Cracow. His works are in many private collections in Poland, England, France, Sweden, the Vatican, Italy, Austria, and Norway. In the United States, his work has been shown at PII Gallery, in Philadelphia, PA.
oil pastel, 28 x 20"
oil pastel, 36 x 28"
Gallery curator, Johnes Ruta, (203) 387-4933

"Ryszard Milek's artistic pastels"
essay by Lechoslaw Lameriski

Ultimately, I really don't know, what I like, esteem and respect in Ryszard Milek's painting. With curiosity and interest I look at his numerous landscapes, still lifes, faces or nudes, which all attract, fascinate and draw my attention. These are compositions which use an exceedingly difficult pastel technique, requiring a steady hand and a certain intuition. This technique was particularly respected and mode popular by the Mtoda Polsko (Modernism) artists with Stanistaw Wyspianski the unquestioned master in this field. Oil-pastel, which produces effects typical for oil-pointing, was introduced into Polish artists' ateliers at the turn of the 19th century, and is still used today. Among those, who treat pastel seriously, not only as a source of "curry favoring" income, with portraits mode to please the customers and stirring landscapes, Ryszard Milek has found a place for himself.

The artist joins two, to some extent, complementing aspects: his profession as an art historian - theorist and a real experienced artist, practitioner. It is difficult to say explicitly, which aspect has gained more by this dualism. For sure, a particular theoretical knowledge acquired during his studies at the Catholic University of Lublin, helped Milek to ovoid making mistakes typical for, as we call them, "young rebels". On the other hand, it seems that, his art history studies changed the life of the alumnus of the Secondary School of Fine Arts in Tornow. The more so as since he had his first individual exhibition (BWA in Nowy Sacz, 1994) ten years after he had graduated from university.

Did the artist - historian of art - need so many years to be able to use his own, easy to recognize, set of signs and artistic forms, original and attractive enough to make him one out of ten the best-bought Polish artists in 1997? Surely he did, and history has known many outstanding artists who didn't live to see even the most modest signs of esteem and approval for their art, while today, their works are worth fortunes in the biggest auction rooms in Europe and all over the world. Is Ryszard Milek only on artist created by an unusual coincidence which occurred in a particular time and place? Maybe this "crazy" dreamer and optimist as well as the realist stepping on firm ground (born in Grodek on the Dunajec River), is someone who like a comet with its unique shape and brightness, can disappear the moment the market is saturated with his works full of warmth and poetry. I don't think it can happen. An analysis of his pointing to date shows that time has been working advantageously for him.

An authentic talent, sensitivity to color and especially a synthesized view of surrounding reality, supported by o creative passion, mean that his paintings have become more and more interesting and mature. A complete Ryszard Milek is found in numerous groups of work, but which never make a closed entirety even after a few years. These are works which above all reflect his inner world, a world having enough room for near his home and his heart. These are found in his sketch-book during his numerous wanderings (including his favorite water motives, mountains and old, wooden buildings in Krynica-Zdi6j).He also has abstract landscapes and modest still lifes (primarily with flowers or bottles) nudes and anonymous - yet with a strong artistic personality-faces, and several compositions brimming over with a mystical religiousness in which one can identify icons.

Analyzing Ryszard Milek's painting we can't forget his drawings which have always accompanied him. His drawings, especially the lines creating them are tense, limited and extremely precise. They ore astonishingly similar to Jozef Czopski's draft sketches. The artist admits that this great copyist (whose famous exhibition Milek organized in BWA, Nowy Sacz 1990) is one of his favorite artists. The similarity between Milek and Czapski lies in the fact that they both have on analogical perception of the world. This is the look of an attentive observer gifted with a sense of synthesis. He notes everything from a distance, and deliberately, at the decline of the day, preferably in the solitude and tranquillity of his atelier where he sketches chosen pieces of well-remembered reality. Simple pieces, outwardly clear, say so much about the ordinariness present during o rest on a bench in the park, while sailing a boat on the lake or during a frugal meal at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and of plate of ripe apples.

Ryszard Milek's painting seems to evolve in the some direction, but the elegant line in his black and white drawing has been replaced with a soft line of contour, gradually introducing suggestive colors. From softened almost faded colors carefully mixed and composed on the palette to an eruption of a riot of vivid waterfall colors overflowing like streams of clotting lava -- they are sets of abstract stains.

Looking at Ryszard Milek's pastels is like looking at a beautiful, scrupulously edited album of painting, turning page after page, with special care not to damage them. The paper fits the character of the painting and the excellent quality of printing.

The artist himself simplifies our contemplations. His series of paintings created in turns and simultaneously, show us how the same theme develops and changes throughout the years. The "Faces" series allows us to notice the greatest maturity and originality of this interesting painting. One of the youngest (initiated in 2001) is comprised of dozens of very significant works. Works showing how for the competent mastery of technique supported with an extended artistic consciousness allows one to paint anonymous (created in the artist's imagination) faces. Faces, charming with their sophisticated expression and clear study, very often refer knowingly and provocatively to the most important art styles of the 20th century. At the same time, there are faces which effectively render different mental states, from dark pessimism to joyful euphory. In Ryszard Milek's "Faces" everything can be found-what he has seen (at the cinema, on the street, during a walk or a long journey), what he has read, or what somebody told or wrote him. This is both a real and an imaginary world, originated in the artist's receptive and sensitive psyche. Milek's pastel "Faces" are masterpieces of this style.

Although Ryszard Milek's artistic way of thinking and looking is also present in his still lifes which ore simple in form and essence. I prefer, the very simplest ones, showing only few bottles or empty water glasses and jars. Their transparent structure enables the areas to penetrate themselves against the rules of perspective and methods of showing depth, compulsory since the Renaissance.

The artist consciously simplifies even the simple shapes of his models, shor- tens the views, raises the line of horizon, slurs the limits between the views and like Cezanne uses different points of perceiving the same objects, crowding the foreground to the highest degree. Ryszard Milek's still lifes emanate with the great power of expression being the sum of experiences, allowing him to paint various versions of very colorful still lifes. The variety is made with a wide range of subtle shades of block supplemented occasionally with soft "chords" of white. These paintings give the impression of being very old. Milek, trying to reach the noble patent of time, rubs the dye gradually into the rough surface of the background bluring the contours, at the same time, emphasizing, with single spots of light, the relief pieces. Here sees again a similarity to the last still lifes by Jozef Czapski when he was almost blind. They were painted "from memory", to spite a great coloristic past. With Czapski it was caused by his old age and physical condition, but for Milek it was a conscious choice, the desire to show spectators and critics that such a subtle and soft pastel
technique can be "polyphonic", even when the pointing is created by different "chords" of black, gray and occasionally white.

A separate problem in Ryszard Milek's works is landscapes ranging from almost postcard views of Krynica-Zdroj to landscapes that have an abstract look of the trees and hills which are reflected in the calm waters of a lake. It is interesting that the artist willingly demonstrates the formal effects which classical pastel techniques create. But then in the next landscape of a set - it seems to be substitute of an oil-painting with its specific facture simply put on a cardboard with a palette-knife. I feel that when the artist abandons the literary for the abstract, his landscapes attain cohesion and a power of expression.

At the end, a few words about Ryszard Milek's "icons". They aren't the kind of icons normally associated with the name. Their "iconness" is based on pointing - as usually Milek does - anonymous human shapes with on aureole around the sketchily presented heads, shapes standing in concentration and perceptible isolation from the other similarly presented figures existing on the border line of two worlds - real, the Earth's and transitory, divine. What distinguishes icons from other sets of paintings is a perceptible element of mysticism and close, simple piety of an average man giving all his soul to God.

I hope, that Ryszard Milek's pointing will not become commercialized and, that the esteem he enjoys and his place on the art market will not kill his sense of self-preservation, which will let his admirers see and contemplate - more interesting paintings from the sets: "Faces," "Still Life," landscapes with the architecture', "Abstract Landscapes' and" Icons', as well as other yet unpainted sets.

Lechoslaw Lameriski