“Wierzby” (Willows) Jarosław Jan Jeleński

Exhibition site – Toruń Zoobotanical Garden
Venissage – 2 December 2022 at 12pm

Monochrome photography exhibition “Wierzby” (Willows) does not represent my most recent explorations; it is a realistic photography that I have performed for a long time. It is a way of creating pure photography so that the realistic world within it reflects my perception of the existing reality, so that the images of the world around me are free from any manipulation, but full of my emotions, feelings, observations and reflections. The title of the exhibition relates to my constant presence among the trees, willows, and capturing their images (lights and shadows) on the matrix, that is, the impressions created as a result of such encounters. In my works I also present the drama of trees after a lightning strike; I sympathize with branches tormented by cows and beavers, dying and bare trunks, roots stripped of the life-giving soil. I have photographed willows in the Lower Vistula Valley, the Bug River meadows and the Warta Mouth National Park. The exhibition is part of my authorial project “Żywoty drzew” (Lives of Trees), which is in progress; it is focused on documenting the trees I meet on my way. Willows still accompany us loyally, owing to their modest needs and easy adaptation to diverse environments. Their familiar shapes can be found on the banks of rivers, in meadows and waterlogged ditches. In Poland, there are about twenty-eight species of willows that form numerous hybrids, and all are recognizable as members of a large family with strongly outlined common characteristics. The ordinariness of this tree made it near and dear to me. The ancient powers of willows seem best described in the words of Szymon Szymonowic, a 16th century poet: “I wy, wierzby, byłyście kiedyś boginiami. (And you willows were once goddesses.) Teraz wód pilnujecie, stojąc nad brzegami”. (But now you guard the waters, standing on the shores.)

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