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Jerzy Duda Gracz is one of the most outstanding 20th century Polish painters and illustrators. His paintings are characterized by grotesque as well as naturalistic or even turpistic elements. His art veers between symbolism and surrealism, and portrays strongly deformed figures. Jerzy Duda Gracz’s paintings deal with the subjects of the tragic nature of the world and human existence, social hypocrisy, rudeness and intolerance, and express the artist’s resentment towards man’s ever-present pursuit of money and wealth or uncritical acceptance of all models of American culture. The artist was born in 1941 in Częstochowa and died in 2004 in Łagów. He graduated from the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. He worked as a lecturer in the Academy’s branch in Katowice and the European Academy of Arts in Warsaw. He was also a scenographer and teacher and held the position of professor at the University of Silesia in Katowice until his death. His best-known works include, among others: ”Christmas Eve/Wigilia”, ”Horsemen of the Apocalypse or Sideline/Jeźdźcy Apokalipsy czyli Fucha”, ”In Memory of Father/Pamięci ojca” and ”Polish Calendar/Kalendarz polski”. He often drew portraits and self-portraits, and is also the author of a number of artistic series including as many as 313 paintings devoted to his favourite composer Frederic Chopin. The artist identified his works in a detailed manner – each painting is numbered and dated, which makes its forgery more difficult. Duda-Gracz received many important awards and medals including the Silver Medal of Global Solidarity, the ”Polonia” Medal, the Grand Cross, the Commander’s Cross, the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the Badge of Honour for Merit to Polish Culture.
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