With the current war in Ukraine, it feels appropriate that the exhibition opens with two artworks created in Medyka – a place that is currently one of the biggest border crossings between Ukraine and Poland.
GLAHA:40682, Warsaw bootseller, Kielisinski, Kajetan Wincenzy, 1835 – 1835, etching, print, gold leaf over ink on cream wove paper
GLAHA:40681, Sniecianz Krakowski, Kielisinski, Kajetan Wincenzy, 1835, etching, print, ink on white wove paper
These two works were created over two centuries ago by Kajetan Wincenty (Wawrzyniec) Kielisiński, Polish draftsman well known for his watercolours and small etchings in which he captured genre scenes, architecture, folklore and dress customs of his time. He was born in Mieronice, in the Świętokrzyskie mountains in August 7, 1808 not long after the last partition of Poland which in 1975 wiped Poland from the map of Europe. There was no border in Medyka at that time – the political map looked significantly different to what it looked like a few decades before and, equally, to what it looks like now. Medyka, now in Poland, was then part of Galicia as well as Lviv, now in Ukraine. There was no border between them but there was a border between Medyka and Warsaw, where Kielisiński studied art at the University of Warsaw. After being involved in the November Uprising Kielisiński admittedly had to assume false identity  when travelling there.
Poland, 1814, Pinkerton, Rumsey collection https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~3797~370009:Poland-
Kielisiński was the custodian of Gwalbert Pawlikowski’s collections in Medyka between 1834 and 1839 and it was there that he learned etching. Even though in his letter to Ferdynand Chotomski Kielisiński complains that this technique cruelly exposed his lack of drawing skills, during this time he created a number of etchings as well as watercolours. In his works, he depicted not only the inhabitants of Krakow and Warsaw seen in the works in the Hunterian collections but during his travels through Galicia he also depicted people living in Lviv and other towns and villages east of Medyka. In 1839 he moved to Kórnik, near Poznan where he worked as a librarian for Tytus Działyński and continued his work of documenting people and places in his drawings.