Wanda Kosińska-Nowak was born in 1919 in Wadowice. A year later, the whole family moved to Bydgoszcz. Here, she studied in the High School for Teachers of Universities. In 1937, she started studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, at the Faculty of Painting of Prof. Władysław Jarocki. The studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. After the war, she continued her painting studies and graduated in 1949, under Prof. Zbigniew Pronaszko. She participated in numerous painting open airs and group exhibitions. She paints portraits, figures, nudes, still lifes and landscapes. At the end of 1960. and the beginning of 1970s., she collaborated with the „Foto” cooperative. The artist is active in Krakow to the present day.
Flowers, the favourite topic of Wanda Kosińska’s paintings, were used by many artists. It was also a motif often undertaken by her academic teacher, Prof. Zbigniew Pronaszko, and by the painters working in the trend of colourism, which emerged in the Polish art in the 1930s. Wanda Kosińska-Nowak is faithful to this tradition, and flowers are for her an inspiration for studying colours and formal exploration. She created her own unique painterly language the form shaped by colour contains a metaphor for transience. An important fact is that the presented „portraits of flowers” have been painted in the last three years.
Flowers dominate the exhibition. The exhibition is also enriched, as a curiosity from the time gone by, by portraits of unnamed people — photographs retouched, made up, created when Wanda Kosińska-Nowak collaborated with the „Foto” cooperative. Many details and accessories accompanying the people were created by the artist. In this way, at the request of the people in the portraits, she changed the nature and expression of the previously created images.
The exhibition has a twofold character — it presents the works of artistic nature and the commercial works; describes the fate and the form of activities, not only of Wanda Kosińska-Nowak, but also of many artists.
… In the case of images portraying flowers in this way, one cannot remain indifferent. One can feel in them a metaphor relating to our lives. There is dramatic tension between the presentation of the bud, which is a harbinger of future flower beauty with specific, individual characteristics and capabilities, and a volatile time when the plant remains excellent in full bloom. It is also a moment of fulfilment of its biological obligation. At that time, it attracts the insect world with colours, smell, shape, to give fruit as a result. But the final stage of a flower’s life is also included in the images. The flower fades, its petals fall, it is destroyed by the passing of time. The contrast of a fresh bud and a decaying flower contains the paradigm of existence. The mystery of life is touched upon through presentation of the whole biological cycle in its authenticity, without unnecessary idealism. The artist, portraying flowers, tells the observer: „just wait, let them wilt a bit, let the petals fall — then it’s going to be interesting.”
The process of destruction is an inspiration for studies of colours and formal exploration. All of this happens on the canvas, where rich yellow transforms into shades of ochre and gets more and more brown, while vermilion loses its sharpness in noble deep red; vivid greens acquire rotten tones. A drama contained within frames is characterised by uncompromising nature of the painterly means used. A firm, simple composition and sophisticated, noble combinations of colours are always present; often, often, smudges of beautifully flowing paint introduce an interesting rhythm and dynamism to the image. All these elements harmonise with each other in accordance with the principles of colourism lying deeply at their roots.