Saturday, 25 July 2009


Every so often, my flatmate and I decide that we will do something culturally improving. I mean, it's great to go out and drink beer and go dancing at Piękny Pies and watch downloads of 'How I Met Your Mother' for five hours straight, but occasionally - just occasionally - we feel that it might be a good idea to do something that is actually going to broaden our horizons, nurture our inner selves, expand our minds. Something wholesome, something Good For Us, something arty.

Unfortunately, our good intentions don't always translate into reality.

For example, in June we went to a panel discussion, with a couple of friends, on the opening of a new exhibit in Bunkier Sztuki.

After approximately thirteen minutes, all five of us - very discreetly - got up, politely shuffled our sheepish way out of the row and legged it up the stairs as soon as we were out of sight of the panel.

Then there was the book signing in Empik. Our intentions were so good: we arranged to meet inside after work at 5pm (if you actually meet inside Empik, instead of in front, the world changes in a subtle yet significant way. I have yet to write a post about meeting people outside Empik. This is negligence on my part).

Unfortunately my flatmate had to work late on a project, and I got an urgent job, so we never got there.

Once we even nearly made it to Teatr Bagatela! Having decided that our Polish was just about good enough to understand drama (although after watching Trans-Atlantyk I very quickly changed my mind), we decided to go and watch a play.
Teatr Bagatela is the theatre of the absurd in Kraków (it's also another place people meet in front of, but that's not important right now). This means - best-case scenario - visual comedy that even we can understand and - worst-case scenario - satire, ironic Polish in-jokes and utter incomprehensibility. We asked some Polish friends to come with us and looked up tickets but unfortunately there were none on the day we wanted. Then my flatmate went on holiday and I had a school trip and it simply never happened.

So when I heard about the live drawing show yesterday I was slightly sceptical about our ability to actually get there.

And yet...

Somehow at 7pm we were sitting in the cool of the gallery, facing a huge sheet of brown paper parcel-taped to the wall, waiting for the performance to start.

The artist - who is French but of Polish family - introduced himself briefly and then sat on a chair at one end of the 'canvas', looking at his feet in silence. We waited. He began to whistle a few bars of Chopin* and then - still whistling - got up and sketched a huge crescent moon in charcoal and chalk. Underneath the moon, the towers of Wawel quickly emerged, chalk moonlight glinting off the charcoal spires.

So the story began in Kraków...

He sketched the whole fairytale for us, acting through the drawing: sometimes drawing over an old episode, sometimes tearing off something to replace it somewhere else, occasionally whistling a clue (like the Marseillaise, for a French character).

And it was fun! Slightly confusing in parts, but then afterwards the artist was there so you could ask him to explain it. We were charmed. Apart from the magic of watching the picture appear on the paper before our eyes, this art was not something to stand in fear of and to be afraid to admit not understanding. It was clear, the clues were there to follow, you could watch the technique and best of all you could actually ask questions.

It turns out there's another pictorial storytelling session next Friday, so if you're interested I'd highly recommend it - Dietla 11, 7pm, at Otwarta Pracownia.

We might even go again...

*Nocturne in E-flat major.


Anonymous said...

I recommend "The story of the bag" in Czartoryski's Museum. Though I'm not very feminine outside (or I'm Barbie very rarely and usuelly to make fools from the men) and I can carry everything in my pockets like Gavroche.

pinolona said...

thanks for the tip! I'll check it out.