Krystyna Wojtyna -Drouet

Polana Institute
Stanisława Noakowskiego 16/35
March 9–April 6, 2024

Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet consistently experiences an inner drive to create, engage with reality, and articulate it. Publicity has never held any appeal for her; her achievements simply complement the satisfaction derived from the act of creation itself. This impulse originates from a profound desire, not as an imposed obligation. While some dream of mountain escapades, my need is to express myself authentically, unburdened by a sense of duty that could dissipate the pleasure.

The artist's remarkable openness has led to innovative formal solutions. Pioneering the incorporation of sisal fiber, and also using raffia, metal, and ceramic elements, Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet has been experimenting with fabric shapes since the 1960s, producing works that deviate from traditional rectangular forms. Her art captures encounters with people, reenactments of experiences, depictions of landscapes from her travels, and representations of everyday objects.

The creation of her fabrics involves a unique process that does not involve the use of pre-painted designs on cardboard. Each fabric is meticulously ‘painted’ directly in the workshop, a deliberate and planned act, not an improvisation. I envision the final form while sitting in front of my workspace. The main compositional principles, including verticals, horizontals, and the interplay of soft and sharp forms, are pre-established. When I have everything in my head, I work swiftly so as not to miss anything. I only change some small things, akin to a chef preparing a complex dish who instinctively adjusts details such as saltiness, spiciness, or the need for lemon.

Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet's artistic journey narrates a tale of connections with people and the profound impact they can have on one's life. My art is based on my encounter with Professor Eleonora Plutyńska who offered guidance but did not impose her own vision on me. Plutyńska aimed to elevate artistic fabric to a fully independent art form, teaching students to think with fabric as a unique means of expression, distinct from painting or drawing. This approach liberated Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet from conforming to conventions, allowing her to develop her distinctive style.

Another influential figure in her creative journey was Professor Wanda Szczepanowska, from whom she learned traditional dyeing techniques using natural, predominantly plant-based dyes. By applying Prof. Szczepanowska's recipes, the artist continues to dye hand-spun, lanolin-rich ‘mountain wool’ using indigo, madder, cochineal, or oak bark. Dyeing the wool gives her complete control over the color palette, resulting in fabrics with dynamic, light-catching hues that add depth to her works.

Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet's artistic talent flourished with the support of J. L. Hurschler, whom she met at the 1962 Biennale of Fabric in Lausanne. The American art collector, along with his wife, operated the Hurschler Gallery in Pasadena for over two decades, acquiring the artist's works and promoting her creativity internationally. The Hurschlers' friendship facilitated her global travels, and the collector supplied her with plant dyes unavailable in Poland. Financial independence safeguarded her artistic freedom, allowing her to act on her creative impulses without any constraint. I am freed from obligations, and whatever blossoms in my imagination, whatever I feel .

text: Magda Pałyska

Exhibition view