Joanna Ciechanowska

Press Reviews



- “Dziennik Polski Biennale”

- “Graphics World”

Joanna Ciechanowska proves with her canvases that scale in painting is clearly no problem for her. Her visual imagery deals in the big contemporary themes of our age. On the one hand there is that of ‘Climate Change’ as exemplified in a series developed from her travels to the Arctic Circle and concerns for the wildlife of the north, on the other, in a number of paintings called ‘Broken Rainbow’ our current universal alarm at global economic collapse. In this she is hardly alone artistically. Indeed ‘Haze’, the recent production by the Beijing Dance Theatre at Sadlers Wells addressed both these themes simultaneously as ‘a creative response to economic and environmental crises’ on a score of Gorecki’s ‘Sorrowful Songs’ in his ‘Symphony No.3’ which poignantly links us once again to Poland.

The version of ‘Broken Rainbow’ exhibited in Format VI Collective stems from the idea of Falling Man, a figure to be seen elsewhere in Ciechanowska’s paintings. From a distance he is outlined as a large but incomplete red silhouette, head first downwards on a transparent loose illegible weaving of large grey letters beyond which is deep luminous space.

This is art which has the virtue of good structural composition from afar rewarded by close inspection of details within. In this respect she is in good company, be it with Raqib Shaw, mentioned above, though mercifully without his kitsch viscerally self-indulgent obsessions or, more appositely, Grayson Perry, the potter in a frock who calls himself Alice, within whose seductive vases one finds the dark secrets of society.

In Ciechanowska’s case the kernel of her picture lies in a small newspaper cutting concerning an unfortunate banker who leaps to his death from a high window. He is indeed the Falling Man who has broken his own rainbow and maybe ours too. We can see him reiterated repeatedly in tiny black figures falling through space within the canvas. Another recurring bugbear of contemporary Western society can be found in little images of Muslims at prayer and standing Imams, the kind of provocative sources Ciechanowska’s art attempts to encourage us to engage in’.

John Jukes Johnson ‘Only Connect’ , ‘Nowy Czas’ – October 2011.

‘When I first saw Joanna’s work, it evoked memories of those wonderful Polish Circus Posters for me. That despite all the constraints they had to work under, they captured a spirited freedom in their solutions. Joanna’s pieces still emanate that liberation yet with a purpose that makes her such a breath of fresh air’.

David Lock

‘Joanna Ciechanowska’s illustrations have so much life and energy. No one can make a still life look less still than she does.
It is precisely her wonderful sense of space, color, and line that makes her work so unique for me’.
The Diet Book cover with the food is especially wonderful (except for the type — can you just show the art?)

– Richard Hendel (Art Director, designer, author of ‘On Book Design’ – Yale Univ Press.

Part of the article in ‘Novum’ 1988 by John Halas –

‘The Young British Generation’

This presentation is a cross section of Britain’s new generation of graphic designers. It is documentary evidence of its contemporary character, its creativity and above all its position in the advertising market place. The first impression one gets is an uncompromising self-expression. It is manifested through the choice of colour, personal characteristics of line drawing, composition and individual design. It is also interesting to observe how such individual visual imagery is integrated into a formal world of hard commercial markets and how it is able to enrich an otherwise plain and dull commercial message.

In connection with my investigation I asked three young designers to submit their work who have successfully established themselves in the marketplace. Their personalities and work are totally diverse.

(Beverly Ann Levy, Peter Horridge, Joanna Ciechanowska)…….

“The work of Joanna Ciechanowska provides the exotic element to the young London design scene. She was born in Poland, studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, worked for a year with the leading advertising agency in Teheran before the Ayatollah Khomeni’s ascent, returning to London only with a single piece of hand luggage. Then again to South Africa, followed by Egypt, until she found a job as a designer with Lock Pettersen in London in 1982. She is not only an interesting individual, she is also an interesting artist who, with some reluctance, accepted the inevitable specialization of design which prevails in London. Now at last she works as a freelance illustrator. Her work generates a surface excitement which is achieved by her instinctive drawing capability emerging freely through her brush and pastels and the background which is dark and sombre, reminding one of her Polish origin and that of the Warsaw Academy of Art.

Britain presently enjoys a healthy boom both in economy and in graphic design. The young designer’s  position in communication design is important to add spirit, to provide a human face to counterbalance the impersonal conformity and the cold projection of high technology which tends to dominate our society. It appears that the standard set by the new generation of graphic designers provides hope and optimism for the future growth.

John Halas

Biennale z perspektywą

Elżbieta Sobolewska – Dziennik Polski, September 2011

Joanna Ciechanowska, londyńska malarka i ilustratorka, wolontaryjny dyrektor Galerii POSK-u – zdobyła wyróżnienie na VI Międzynarodowym Biennale Malarstwa i Tkaniny Unikatowej – Barwy i Faktury – Gdynia 2011, konkursie organizowanym dla profesjonalnych artystów z kraju i zagranicy. Wernisaż już się odbył, wystawę można oglądać do 25 września.

Biennale, pod honorowym patronatem marszałka Senatu RP Bogdana Borusewicza, zostało zorganizowane przez Stowarzyszenie Promocji Artystów Wybrzeża Era Art, wraz z Muzeum Miasta Gdyni.