Andrzej Jackowski, artist
Andrzej Jackowski taught painting at the University of Brighton between 1987 and 2013, where he was Professor of Painting. During this time he sustained an inter national reputation as an exhibiting fine artist, including the First Prize in the 1991 John Moores Painting Competition, held at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, for his painting, “The Beekeeper’s Son”
Jackowski was born in 1947 in Wales, the son of Polish emigrees who had survived the Second World War. They lived in a refugee camp near Crewe with a general expectation that they would be repatriated before very long. Not only was Polish the language of the camp, but they had a Polish chapel and school: “The huts in the camp were made of wood covered in tar. My parents carried a card saying they were aliens.” Jackowski was sent to learn English with his half-brother in Nottingham. Later they moved to London, where his parents separated when he was about 14 years old. “About the same time I painted a self-portrait, and made a decision to become an artist.”
He attended Camberwell School of Art, Falmouth School of Art, and the Royal College of Art in London, eventually obtaining a fellowship to Surrey University. While there a reading of The Sleepwalker by Arthur Koestler, inspired the painting The Tower of Copernicus. “I had one of those Proustian moments, where a passage describing Copernicus, the Polish astronomer, living in his tower with an open view of the stars at night, brought back memories of lying in bed, as a child, in the camp, and thinking those awesome black hole kind of thoughts of how the world came to be and how it would end. In the painting I had stumbled on to an image that resonated with the refugee huts of my childhood – made out of wood and tar – but as well a space that echoed with the trauma, loss and resilience of the time my parents had been through in the war, and since; of losing their homes and families as well as their sense of place in the world.”
Jackowski has continued to explore images of dispossession, loss and identity ever since.
Jackowski’s paintings plumb the depths of experience, in some cases his own experiences of dispossession, distant recollections of a family history in Poland and the first eleven years of his life spent in a refugee camp. These, along with photograph albums and other ephemera are the raw material of his images. Jackowski’s explorations of personal and collective memory is at the root of his researches into identities and cultures as handed on and explored through stories and images. He has made a significant contribution to our greater appreciation of autobiographical and collective memory and the role they have to play in the creation of histories and identities.
Jackowski has described his own work in the following way: “For some years now I have been concerned to articulate through my paintings the inner life, to evoke reverie and to find significant images. The work moves and animates somewhere between a kind of vigilant dreaming and being wide-awake. As a young painter, I drew for many years with my (untrained) left hand to break the spell of natural representation. It took me several years to find these powerful, insistent and significant images which derive from the cellars of the human memory and psyche, both my own and something more collective. These images are poetic metaphors of something real, intimate and mysterious in our lives.”