Jerzy Sewina

XLibris on the occasion of 50th birthday (1982). Linocut 17×9 cm.

Jerzy Sewina was born in 1932 in the village of Smogorzewiec near Torun. After graduating from primary school, he followed an education at the school for the mining industry in Zabrze. In 1950 he started his working life at the coal mine Śląsk and in 1963 moved over to the Halemba coal mine, both located in Ruda Śląsk, the city of coal and steel. In his spare time and vacations he was an enthusiastic practitioner of sports and mountain hiking.

Coal digging (1985 or earlier). Linocut 21×30 cm.

In 1971 his lower body was paralyzed by a mine collapse which sentenced him to a life in a wheelchair. He was declared invalid, was in constant unbearable pain and lost all hope. While hospitalized in 1976, Sewina came in contact with fellow patient and art teacher Władysław Luciński (1933-2022). Luciński introduced him to various forms of art practice. He initially made him enthusiastic for the production of graphics based on linoleum cutting. Shortly afterwards this was followed by painting and wood carving.

Cancan (1985 or earlier). Linocut 15×20 cm

Under Luciński’s stimulating leadership, color returned to Sewina’s life. He took the presented artistic challenges with both hands and went to work passionately. A hidden reservoir of talent and creativity had been tapped. In the same year he produced so much quality work that he was allowed to participate in a competition for amateur artists in his hometown Ruda Śląsk. He was awarded the first prize for his graphics, paintings and wood carvings.

Final world champignonship pair riding (1984). Linocut 18×18 cm.

The success in 1976 marked a decisive breakthrough for Sewina’s position in the Polish non-professional art practice. He has maintained the versatility of his initial art palette and later expanded it to include metalworking and photography. His paintings and wood carvings are qualitatively among the top of Polish naive art. His better graphic works are beyond that level.

Sewina’s graphics cover a wide area: portraits, miner’s and farm life, nature, religious images, sporting events, music performances, circus, cabaret, etc. In 1984 and 1986 he was highly admired for his extensive series on the Olympic Games and the World Championship football.

Semi-final world championship football. Linocut 14×21 cm.

Sewina continued until his death to dig into the deeper layers of his talents as a sort of artistic miner. It is tempting to draw a parallel in his life and work with the Mexican self-taught painter Frida Kahlo. Their artistic lives are both based on a tragic accident and a resulting permanent physical suffering. Their artistic products are, as it were, steeped in pain and despair. We visited Sewina twice while lying on his invalid bed. After that we could not bring ourselves to further witness how he was attacked every quarter of an hour by terrible shooting pains and tears in his eyes.

 Sewina’s wife Teresa deserves special mention and respect. She took care of him until his death  in 2001, supported him with extraordinary love and loyalty and encouraged him in his choice of art.


Flowers for Teresa

Sewina’s work has been exhibited extensively in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands and is represented in the collections of various museums (Ruda Śląsk, Bialystok, Bytom, Zabrze and Torun), institutions and private art lovers.