While visiting his homeland of Poland in fall 2016, Missouri State University artist Jacek Fraczak was invited to exhibit some very personal work – portraits he had made of his great-uncle, Alfons Karny, in his dying days.
“He was actually one of the most outstanding and renowned Polish sculptors and portraitists,” said Fraczak.
Fraczak lived with Karny during his latter years and sketched him, documenting his deterioration. These images were so intimate that he didn’t share them for many years.
“Alfons Karny believed in the human dignity of dying,” said Fraczak. “Therefore, beyond creating sculpture portraits, he was also strongly dedicated to casting the death masks of the celebrities of Polish cultural life of his time. As a child, I found these masks both frightening and fascinating.”
But as an adult and artist, Fraczak sat by Karny’s bedside, and he saw that drawing someone in their final days was a way to look death in the eye.
“I wanted to catch the man’s dignity and courage as he reached ever closer to the unknown that lay ahead,” he said.
This exhibition also presented a number of large format photographic portraits of Karny that Fraczak completed when documenting Karny’s earlier life.
Midwest to middle Europe
Moving from Warsaw, Poland, to Springfield, Missouri, in his 50s was inspirational for Fraczak.
He’s photographed the Ozarks and Midwest region for the last 10 years. During his 2016-17 academic year sabbatical, he photographed more than 1,000 images of Europe and recorded video of everyday life.
Now Fraczak is curating this collection of images for an upcoming exhibit, photo and video outdoor installation and potential book. He wants to depict the similarities and differences of life in the Midwest and middle Europe.
A selection of these prints specifically depicting the views of the Ozarks region in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas will debut at Corbett Law Firm, 2015 E. Phelps St., during October. The artist’s reception will be during First Friday Art Walk Nov. 3.
After presentation in Springfield, the exhibition will be on show in a couple of venues in Europe.
For more information, contact Frazcak at 417-836-2338.