The art exhibit currently on display at the Polish Mission on the campus of Orchard Lake Schools features the poignant works of a Polish-born artist who renders contemporary images of the Holocaust.
Liliana Krynska’s exhibit, “re/collection,” will be on display daily until Sunday, Feb. 6, at various hours in the Adam Cardinal Maida Alumni Library on the campus located at 3535 Indian Trail.
“Each painting sends a very powerful message inspired by the Holocaust,” said Marcin Chumiecki, director of the Polish Mission.
The exhibit aligns with the Polish Mission’s goal of promoting and preserving Polish culture and art.
“So far we’ve had a great reception with guests coming from all over the world,” Chumiecki said. “She is a very vibrant and relevant artist and that’s why we brought her back to Michigan to exhibit her work.”
The exhibit features over 20 contemporary paintings, plus 15 sketches. Each is based on Krynska’s personal experience as a Polish girl raised during the aftermath of World War II, and whose Christian family, like many in her city, was entrenched in the horrific and graphic stories of the Holocaust that resulted in the genocide of their closely-intertwined Jewish neighbors.
Krynska was born and raised in Lodz, Poland, where Jews and Christians lived side-by-side.
“Then over just three years, one-third of the population was gone — millions murdered,” she said. “That history is all morphed into a language of my art. “It was common to hear about the war and the people killed and to see graphic imagery. By the time you were old enough to read you would be taken to spots that read ’150 were executed here by the Nazis.’ These memories stayed with me.”
Krynska’s unique artistic style uses metaphorical imagery to parlay her interpretations of the Holocaust in lieu of graphic imagery. She paints large canvasses of still subjects such as bath tubs, coffins, walls, or beds in acrylic and uses them as symbols to provoke profound emotion.
“I give them qualities of destroyed textures, like a wall that was riddled with bullet holes to show where people were executed,” she said. “I use textures, layering techniques, and scratch away layers. The layers imply layers of memory.”
She also uses a palette of fleshy colors to replicate coarse, human skin. Metaphorical imagery transforms the painting into something more powerful.
“I don’t paint gaping wounds — it’s not that literal — but it’s definitely reminiscent of that experience,” she said.
Krynska says her work spans 10 years.
“Some of it was created from my years in New York, in London and from when I went back to Poland — it’s a full circle effect. Together it creates unity,” she said.
Krynska emigrated to the U.S. when she was 9-years-old. She graduated from North Farmington High School and was accepted into the prestigious art program at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She received her master’s degree in contemporary art theory from the University of London’s Goldsmiths College.
She currently resides in Poland.