Henryk Waniek

  • fot. Ela Lempp

"I am considered to be a painter of magic, a magic of describing the world. Magic depicts the world in symbols." The art critic, essayist and prose writer Henryk Waniek is principally known as an artist. Waniek composes his symmetrical and concentric pictures from the traditional symbols of magic: windows, chalices, ladders, devils, rainbows, shooting stars. These pictures link geographical realities and spheres of human interest like a map; his essays are also maps of spiritual space which are clothed in words. Henryk Waniek was born on 4 March 1942 in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). He has various strings to his creative bow: painting, graphics, books, poster painting, stage design. His work has been shown at over 50 exhibitions, alone or with work by other artists, and he has been awarded many Polish and international prizes. He has traveled to both Italy and the USA on scholarships. Waniek's 'sideline', his writing, includes philosophical fairy tales, essays, journalistic work and art criticism. He has also written two novels: Dziady berlinskie (All Hallows' Eve in Berlin; 1986) and Dziady paryskie (All Hallows' Eve in Paris; completed in 1998 but as yet unpublished). His texts roam through history, philosophy, alchemy, hermetics. Waniek defines himself as 'picture-teller' - his essays interpret the allegories and metaphors which fill the world. Waniek - whom M Rabizo-Birek described as 'homo symbolicus' - searches incessantly for the sense behind the code, asks, doubts, contrasts. His erudite prose is full of digressions, comparisons, journeys into the past, gentle irony, mild derision. The historical scenery of these journeys is Upper Silesia, through which Waniek takes us in his essay trilogy Hermes w Gorach Slaskich (Hermes in Upper Silesia; 1994), Opis podrozy mistycznej z Oswiecimia do Zgorzelca 1257-1957 (Description of a mystical journey from Oswiecim to Zgorzelec 1257-1957; 1996), and Pitagoras na trawie (Pythagorus on grass; 1997). This is a story of country and of countryside, this 'laboratory of elements', of the people and spiritual ties which at different periods bound Poles, Germans Czechs and Silesians to one another.


  • Dziady berlińskie, 1985, wznow. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 1999.
  • Hermes w Górach Śląskich, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 1994.
  • Opis podróży mistycznej z Oświęcimia do Zgorzelca 1257-1957, Kraków: Znak, 1996.
  • Pitagoras na trawie, Warszawa: Przedświt, 1997.
  • Inny Hermes, Warszawa: PWN, 2001.
  • Finis Silesiae, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 2003.
  • Wyprzedaż duchów, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 2007
  • Sprawa Hermesa, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2007.