Category I. Plastic arts, ornamentation, handicraft and folk crafts, music and dance folklore
Field of activity:
master of ritual and decorative arts, creator of Easter eggs and cutouts
Terpentyna-Dzierzkowice, Poviat Kraśnicki, Lublin Region
Roman Prószyński is one of the stalwarts of the Association of Folk Artists (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych or STL). For more than 40 years, he has participated in the organisation’s activities and his achievements have had a considerable impact on how the association was perceived by other circles. He is immensely creative and artistically involved, but also dedicated to the promotion of folk arts and the circle of artists centred around the association. His characteristic figure with his sincere, invariably bright face adorned by a bushy moustache can be seen at all the major events promoting plastic folk arts. He is an enormously friendly and amiable person.
He is also one of only a few male artists who are involved in painting Easter eggs these days. In accordance with the tradition of Lubelszczyzna (Lublin Region), his Easter eggs are made in the batik technique, in which the patterns are drawn with a thin pen immersed in hot wax, which then is used to colour the egg, usually several times, to create a colourful design. Prószyński was first encouraged to make Easter eggs by his own father Władysław, who was an artistically talented teacher and a social activist. However, Roman was quick to extend his skills beyond the traditional set of motifs. He has developed more than three hundred unique, personalised patterns. That is why beside the little suns, forks, fir branches and windmills, his eggs feature such motifs as sunflowers, roosters, national symbols and the signs that he is personally attached to, such as the ‘Solidarność/Solidarity’ logo. He can combine the colours excellently. He is a true master of this technique. Apart from the traditional batik technique, he has also reinvented the method of etching the eggs in acid, in which the paint-covered egg is discoloured in order to create a light background, while the wax-covered pattern remains coloured. Prószyński’s Easter eggs are characterised by smooth line and extended composition of design with the use of both traditional and original models that he has himself devised. He creatively draws on the legacy of the regional culture and then enriches it with his own individual touches.
Prószyński’s other artistic field is devoted to cutouts. He made his first cutouts in 1973. Initially, he was strongly inspired by the work of Garbów-based Ignacy Dobrzyński, who had enriched the traditional Lubelszczyzna cutout in accordance with his own individual taste. Like his master, Prószyński creates highly elaborate cutouts: one-coloured, multi-axial, circular, square and octagonal. He cuts out geometric patterns, floral motifs with fantastical forms, silhouettes of animals and – occasionally – Lublin-style goat kids, national symbols etc. He makes all of them with an excellent technical dexterity, achieving an unusual harmony between the cut-out motifs and the space in between.
During his professional career as an artist, Prószyński has exhibited his works at numerous regional and national competitions, where he won main prizes. Recently, he has also been sharing his vast experience by siting in competition juries.
He has taken part in Polish and foreign exhibitions, and he also appeared at Expo 2000 in Hanover. Worth noting are also his long-standing contacts with the Danish cities of Odense and Aalborg, where he conducts yearly exhibitions of the Easter egg art.
The artist’s works have been acquired by a whole host of private collections in Poland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Brazil and the USA, and permanently exhibited in the Lublin Museum (Muzeum Lubelskie), the Ethnographic Museum (Muzeum Etnograficzne) in Kraków and the National Museum of Ethnography (Państwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne) in Warsaw.
The artist has never ceased to popularise his art amongst children and adolescents in schools in and around the city of Lublin (Lubelszczyzna). He has conducted workshops at the Academy of Folk Art (Akademia Sztuki Ludowej), held by the STL, and has given lessons in Polish schools around the world, as well as at summer cutout and Easter egg schools (in 2014 and 2017 respectively) during the successive editions of the Jagiellonian Fair (Jarmark Jagielloński). Using this rather traditional medium of communication, he is able to pass his expertise down to the next generations.
The artist is a passionate photographer, too. His pictures of friends, events documentation and photos of the folk art objects have often appeared in the Twórczość ludowa (Folk Art) quarterly, brought out by the STL.
Roman Prószyński has been a member of the Association of Folk Artists (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych, STL) since 1975. Praised by his colleagues, he has been a very active member of the organisation. For several terms starting in 1986, he was the president of the Lublin-Chełm Branch of the STL, a member of the Management Board (1986 - 1993), the General Secretary of the Management Board of the STL (1986 – 1993), and he is currently President of the Audit Committee of the STL. He is also the vice-president of the Folk Art Protection and Development Foundation (Fundacja Ochrony i Rozwoju Twórczości Ludowej). For his artistic efforts and accomplishments, he has been awarded the Silver and Gold Crosses of Merit, as well as the medals of the Meritorious Cultural Activist and ‘For Merit to Lubelszczyzna’.
Alicja Mironiuk Nikolska