The painter and sculptor Wojciech Siudmak was born on 10 October 1942 in Wieluń, where he graduated from primary school. In 1956–1961, he attended the Secondary Art School in Warsaw, and then he pursued education at the University of Fine Arts. He went to Paris in 1966, where he studied at École des beaux-arts. He lives and creates in France. He is considered a leading representative of fantastic realism. Combining surreal vision with naturalistic art, this trend has its roots in surrealism as represented by S. Dali, R. Magritte or G. de Chirico. What Siudmak shares with Dali is his virtuosity in capturing the three-dimensional illusion of space, the sense of light and shade, and the linear and aerial perspectives. His timeless and deeply individual art, far from theorising and from following fashion, offers Renaissance-like perfection and virtuosity, exceptional imagination and intellectual wealth. The artist has never felt the need to belong to any group. He likes to quote the French philosopher Gustave Thibon: “To be with the times is the ambition of the dead leaf.”
The world created by the artist is a unique place full of personal symbolism, fantastic characters and structures based on unexpected combinations of ideas. It is governed by the motto:
“Only dreams can surpass insurmountable barriers”
Many famous people have expressed their admiration for his art: Federico Fellini, Jean-Jacques Annaud, George Lucas, Paul Guth, John Harrison, Jacques Goimard, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Francis Lai, Tadeusz Maliński, Guy Béart, Kim Stanley Robinson and more.
Federico Fellini: “What boundless fantasy and what prodigious ability to make it come true. An almost unbelievable talent, more gifted and infinite of the one who guides, expresses himself and invents our richest dreams.”The greats talking
Jean-Jacques Annaud: “I’ve been exploring the world of his art for years. This way I join him in his dreams about images from the world behind the horizon. Hyperrealistic, beyond reality, intimate with the infinity, Siudmak has calm control over his incredible madness. He has the divine gift of materialising his imagination. He can involve us in his unbelievable journey.”
George Lucas: “Wojtek Siudmak’s fine draftsmanship and sense of light and dark give his visions great depth and multiply the remarkable range of colours and textures. There is a powerful tranquillity in Wojtek Siudmak’s creations, and endless space to explore and invent.”
His works are disseminated all over the globe and are used as music, theatre and film posters. They have become graphic symbols of prestigious events, such as film festivals in Cannes, Montreal and Paris. For years now, his paintings have been present on the covers of records and books, and in the greatest science fiction collections in France, Germany and America. In Poland, he is known to the wide audience of the Nowa Fantastyka magazine, and from 2006, to enthusiasts of the writing of Frank Herbert and Philip K. Dick, as the bibliophilic editions of those works include his original drawings. The artist is often compared to Salvador Dali. This similarity is superficial as both artists are fascinated by the same source of inspiration: the art of the Renaissance and the baroque. He admires Bernini, Tiepolo, Hieronymus Bosch, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Michaelangelo, Bracelli and 19th century painters: Dominique Ingres, Ernest Meissonier, William Blake, Arnold Böcklin, as well as the surrealists.
He considers himself a successor of the fantasy art the traces of which can be found in the wall paintings in the Lascaux caves, through visions of Hieronymus Bosch and surrealism. He is inspired by the Universe and by works of physicists and astrophysicists. He sees them as the avantgarde of our times, in not only scientific, but also artistic terms, as they offer a new perception of the Universe by providing new aesthetic emotions. The artist seeks universal beauty based on mathematical standards. He does not look for “prettiness” but, just like ancient Greeks, he sees it in mathematical rules and in the harmony of the cosmos.
The year 1988 marked the beginning of a series of retrospective exhibitions of the artist, held in the museums of five cities: Łódź, Wieluń, Zielona Góra, Legnica and Warsaw. In 2003 and 2004, his works were displayed in eight museums: in Szczecin, Kielce, Wrocław, Łódź, Toruń, Katowice, Wieluń and Warsaw. A new series of exhibitions is planned for 2021 and it is to start with the Schoen’s Palace Museum in Sosnowiec.
The first grand retrospective exhibition took place in 1989 in Palais de Tokyo — the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The 1999 official exhibition on the Eiffel Tower, the symbol of Paris and France, was especially prestigious as it was held to celebrate the beginning of the third millennium. This event, along with the exhibition in Futuroscope in Poitiers, formed a part of a series of exhibitions presented in museums and culture centres in other French cities, such as: Loudun, Aix-les-Bains, Cannes, Cavalaire, Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Tropez, Sannois, Grande- Synthe/Dunkirk, Gaillac, Metz, Sainte-Savine, Sèvres, Grenoble, Reims, Lunéville. The exhibitions symbolised the commencement of the new millennium and created a bond between the world of the artist’s imagination and the perspective of the future.
In 2000–2012, the artist’s works were displayed in museums and culture centres in Germany, Belgium, England and the United States. A gigantic projection of his works took place in February 2000 on the façade of the Temple of Ramesses III in Luxor, Egypt.
Wojciech Siudmak is the honorary citizen of Wieluń, Poland, and of Ozoir-la-Ferrière and Saint-Thibault-des-Vignes, France. The artist has received numerous awards, distinctions and accolades, including the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in Paris (1999), the Grand Gold Medal of Art-Sciences-Lettres in Paris (Grande Médaille d’Or avec plaquette d’Honneur) (2013) or the Gold Hippolytus (2014) and the gold Oxygenus award (2015) in Poznań. The Wojtek Siudmak Graphic Art Award was founded in France in 2006.
The artist initiated the Siudmak Arkana XXI Foundation and the World Peace Project, the latter having the Eternal Love monument as its symbol — a 4.5 m tall brass sculpture unveiled in Wieluń on 31 August 2013. The artist used the statue to convey a message of peace, which remains clear regardless of the time, place, nationality or religion due to the universal nature of art.
Eternal Love is a unique gesture of understanding and tolerance addressed to the world. Pursuing peace had never been considered from this perspective and had never taken such a form or had such deep justification. The fact that the World Peace Project is implemented under the auspices of the Polish UNESCO Committee, the Eternal Love sculpture and the whole undertaking in general has a special meaning to the artist as he was born in a town where the nightmare of World War II started with a horrifying genocide. Wieluń was the first witness and victim of the Nazi crimes. The project is a deeply humanistic commitment to all those harmed by and still suffering because of the war. The mission of the World Peace Project is to communicate and develop the idea of harmony, tolerance and understanding based on intellectual, artistic and scientific values. The project enters the world with a universal and positive message in the most beautiful of forms: art and intellect. Being tied to works of art from other cities, the message of the World Peace Project will give birth to dialogue between the cultures of the third millennium. Art is a special supporter of these ideas.
In 2012, the artist founded the “Eternal Love” Peace Award.
He is currently finishing his started in 2006 monumental work involving Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles and the works by Philip K. Dick — a series of original drawings for each volume. These bibliophilic editions to be published by the REBIS Publishing House consist of 44 volumes. REBIS also published two volumes of Cervantes’s Don Quixote with original drawings of the artist and an album devoted to his work. The artist’s drawings for that publication were presented in Madrid in 2016, within an exhibition entitled Don Quixote — Knight of the Future. Siudmak has been working on a series of paintings, drawings and sculptures devoted to Chopin’s nocturnes since 2009. He is friends with many artists, such as the world-known composer Francis Lai, who created the symphonic poem Amour éternel specifically for the World Peace Project, and with great scientists, such as the famous biochemist Tadeusz Maliński.