I was deeply, deeply saddened by the loss of Andrzej Wajda, one of the greatest film directors in the history of Polish cinematography. He passed away on Sunday afternoon, a few weeks after the premiere of his latest film Afterimage, telling the story of Władysław Strzemiński, famous Polish avant-garde painter and theoretician, founder of the Museum of Art in Łódź. As people all around the world pay tribute to the memory of Andrzej Wajda, I’d like to add a few words myself. I hope that he will be remembered not only as a groundbreaking film director, but also as a founder of one of the most important cultural institutions in Poland: the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow.
Fascinated with the Japanese art and culture, Andrzej Wajda was a devoted patron and a loyal friend of the institution he created in 1994 (together with his wife, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, a renowned Polish stage and costume designer). Beginning its activity as a branch of the National Museum in Krakow, Manggha soon became one of the most important cultural institutions in Poland, and gained an international acclaim it undoubtedly deserved. Every year since the opening of the museum, Andrzej Wajda would visit it on the day of his birthday in order to participate in a traditional tea ceremony. He actively contributed to the cultural program of the museum, both as an exhibited artist (Andrzej Wajda. Sketchbook, 8/03—28/08/2016), and as a curator (Wróblewski according to Wajda, 27/06—15/10/2015).
Wajda was busy to the very end. No matter if he was travelling, or working on the set of a movie, he never parted with a sketchbook and something to draw with. Asked about his sketching habits, he once replied:
[I draw] for two reasons. First of all, because what I have drawn is mine to own: it stays in my memory. When drawing, I also gain a better realization of what it is that moves my imagination. And in my work in film or theatre I use drawings because it’s a quicker way to make people I work with understand what I mean. *
That’s how he should be remembered: as an inspiring, hardworking artist, and a generous man devoted to his friends and co-workers. Thank you for each and every one of your masterpieces, Sir. Especially for the one that will always be a living testimony of your visionary thinking and generosity: the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology.
* press release accompanying the exhibition Andrzej Wajda. Sketchbook, source: click