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Stanisław Zagajewski was an exceptional artist. Named as Nikifor from Włocławek, the artist's ceramic imagery is easily recognizable to any art connoisseur. We currently have several works created by the sculptor on offer at Artbidy. We invite you to read about his difficult but fascinating life story.

Zagajewski, a self-taught sculptor

To describe Zagajewski's life story as challenging would surely be an understatement. The Art Brut artist-to-be was dropped off as a small child at the threshold of St Barbara's Church in Warsaw. He spent his childhood in various orphanages, in Ciechocinek, Grab near Toruń and in the capital of Poland. As a young man, he supported himself through many different jobs, earning money as a cook, gardener, bookbinder or night watchman. Interestingly, he also took part in rebuilding Warsaw from the post-war ruins and was involved in making stucco works in the capital's Old Town. Unfortunately, he never received a formal artistic education, having only completed primary school. He learned the art of firing clay moulds thanks to "Cepelia". From 1963 to 1983, he worked at the Artistic and Folk Handicraft Cooperative "Sztuka Kujawska". His products were later sold in "Cepelia" shops. At that time, there were exhibitions organized, devoted to the artist's work. They took place in Poland and abroad: in Warsaw, Toruń, and Włocławek, but also in Paris and London. In the aftermath of his success, he finally found a place where he could live and create (partially thanks to the persistence of Professor Aleksander Jackowski, a cultural anthropologist and ethnologist who championed the artist’s work). A small house in Włoclawek became a place for Zagajewski’s intensive artistic development, which he continued to pursue until the end of his life. The inhabitants of Włocławek called him "Stasiu the Screw" or "Włocławek Nikifor". The artist died in April 2008 and was buried in the cemetery in the town where he spent the last years of his life. While still alive, he was honoured with many awards: the Oskar Kolberg Prize, the Golden Cross of Merit and the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal.

Creativity and commemoration

The artistic medium Zagajewski used in his practice most frequently was fired clay and glazed ceramics. He created his sculptures intuitively, with passion. "Stasiu the Screw" in spirit of Polish naive art, also made religious representations: figures of the Sorrowful Christ or his wall-mounted 'altars'. He also loved to sculpt animals: birds, and hybrid creatures, often decorating them with bouquets of colourful beads. In the Museum in Włocławek, those interested in his art can see a whole room filled with his fantastic visions; large altars, small birds, various creatures and hybrids. The artist's works can also be found in the collections of the Warsaw and Toruń Ethnographic Museums and in the Collection L'art Brut in Lausanne.

Added 2023-01-27 in by Alicja Graczyk

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