Sunday, August 20, 2017


This week's arts and culture column is the fruit of a long telephone conversation with the wonderful Portland, Oregon-based artist Tomasz Misztal. Check out his website for a feel of the range of his work.

Here's how the piece begins:

Visual artist Tomasz Misztal was born in 1957 to a Catholic family in Poland. The country was under Communist rule at the time. He suffered as a child from terrible asthma.

“Five years of being suffocated, until I was 7. My grandma would give me crayons and paper and I would spend hours and hours, drawing and painting.”

From the ages of 7 to 19, Misztal was an altar boy at a nearby monastery, serving Mass twice a day.

“My introduction to sacred art was with these monks, decorating the church for Christmas and Easter. The understanding of liturgy, the meanings of the colors and shapes. That’s why I’m so sensitive to sacred space. From childhood, I know how the altar works. I understand it; I feel it.”

At 19, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Professor Franciszek Duszeńko, one of Poland’s most important sculptors, became Misztal’s mentor and second father. “I’d developed severe back pain so my professor advised me to do small sculptures and drawings. Those were important years, where I learned the underlying structure.”

At the university he participated in strikes, confronted police, was sprayed with tear gas. In the midst of a political revolution, and spiritually curious, he stepped out from the Church for almost seven years.


Reliquary for the sense of sight - 75 x 16 x 11 in.
All photos
Copyright © 2004 - 2012 • All Rights Reserved • Tomasz Misztal

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