Jan Sawka 1946 – 8/9/2012

Bullet Shih Aug, 2012 2
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Jan Sawka the Polish-American artist has recently passed away in New York from a heart attack at age 65.  Born in Zabrze into a shattered Poland after World War II, Sawka describes his early years,

From the very beginning, from childhood, something was wrong with me (oversensitivity, the family physician stated). Books and reading interested me first. As far as I can remember drawing was somehow regarded as natural, not respected at all — like eating or playing with toys. My parents’ house was overwhelmed by books and discussions during those dark, Stalin years. Little groups of friends gathered over the bridge table, not so much to play but mostly to talk.

After receiving degrees in architecture and printmaking in Wroclaw, Sawka moved to Warsaw and established himself as a voice for the disgruntled Polish youth.  He had gained a reputation as a strong printmaker and in 1969 started working on multimedia projects.  In the late 70s he emigrated to New York and quickly made a name for himself with his bold graphic designs during the 80s.

In 1989 Sawka saw a shift in focus as he embarked on much larger projects such as the set design for the concert tour of the Grateful Dead that was seen by millions.

Sets for the 25th Aniversary 88-concert tour of the Grateful Dead throughout the U.S., 1989-1991. They included: 52 banners painted in acrylic and dyes on canvas; 22 spare banners used for variations of the set, and a lighting system consisting of 380 color instruments, base tracks mounted on moving scaffolds, 120 lights installed on the face and within the structure of the set, four lighting batteries with rotating filters, and two computers sychronizing180 defferent lighting changes.

For the past twenty years Sawka had been focusing more on installations while enjoying retrospective exhibitions of his illustrious printmaking career.

 

2 Comments »

  1. Hanna Sawka Aug, 2012 at 2:42 am - Reply

    Thank you for this obit – I just wanted to let you know that the retrospective exhibitions were mainly of his work as a painter. My father had a very strong focus on painting, with over 100 solo shows, almost all of paintings. He was the youngest artist to win the Oscar de la Peinture and President’s Award at the Painting Competition in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

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  2. Bullet Shih Aug, 2012 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Hanna,
    Thank you for the clarification. Your father was a very talented artist. Although I have seen many of his posters, I have not personally seen his paintings. Hopefully this will change and there will be plenty more exhibitions showcasing his magnificent work. If you know of any that are currently planned or if something develops in the future. Please drop me a line at bullet AT ahomina.com.
    I am very saddened by your personal loss as welll as the loss of such a luminary by the art world as a whole. My prayers go out to you and your family.

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