Symbolic sieve and forever stained fingers

Gdynia’s pearl of art was no different here. In one of the buildings of the former mansion there is a creative area, which is under the care of three foundations, including a foundation now established by Mateusz Żywicki, a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. It was he, along with other graphic artists, who launched the “Screen Printing for Ukraine” campaign a day after the start of the war in Ukraine.

What is the magic of screen printing? Analogous, the paint behind the nails, the smell of handicrafts. The ignorant will decide that this is an ordinary duplication, because it can be done on a printer. But with a sieve, it’s like an analog photo – each print creates a unique and unique image. Sometimes it is completely flawless, because it is a man-made machine that does not copy.

– During my studies, I was in touch with screen printing. I live and work in graphic design and teach at the Academy of Arts. Sito is great in that all graphic and artistic projects are at hand, says Mateusz, who has been improving his technique for years. – It does not matter, a photo, a hand drawing or a very complex project “on vectors”, all of which can be transferred to the “real world” through screen printing. It differs from other printing methods in that everything is done by analogy. This is magic. Something drawn to the whistle of a crushed bus ticket can turn into a giant print of such quality.

– Screen printing is one of the few ways you print with ink, not with any semi-transparent ink that has no structure. In fact, we call it simply the “printing process,” and it may sound automatic, but it’s mechanical rubber that squeezes the dye through the mesh – hence the name sieve.

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol even squeezed the paint. Her series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe has become one of the most popular screen prints in the world.

Before the founding of the polite foundation in Kolibki Park in Gdynia, there was a studio in Dalmor that was printed at night and worked “innocently” on the roofs. A group of children rented rooms in a partially abandoned building and turned them into a studio. There, apparently not seriously, began a serious adventure with the art of many Tri-City artists.

– In the past, when we were still in Dalmor, Gdynia, and working together as Traffic Design, we wanted to open a screen printing studio. We started with a lot of cottage methods, it was about 2012 – recalls Mateusz. – Then we all moved to Kolibki Park in Orlovo, but Traffic Design focused on the city, they were looking for something closer to the center, and we left. I laid the foundation of the sea and stayed “outside” with a sieve.

For many years, Mateusz has been organizing workshops where you can learn more about technology, look closely at machines, weave, create, and imagine your own large enough business.

– Different people go to workshops. The system can infect people who have nothing to do with plastic appliances. It’s been nine years since I conducted a workshop at TuBaza, and we’ve had people who happened to see a banner on Facebook and well-informed artists. An accountant, a car mechanic with his girlfriend, debt collectors came to us. There were those who missed entertainment such as movies and taverns and were looking for “exotic” alternatives, as well as those who were interested in art. Professional graphic designers often come to the workshops – they send ready-made files for screen printing on a daily basis and want to see with their own eyes how the posters are made. The last group is students of art faculties who do not have a studio at the university.

– And not many studios. Warsaw has V9, Kwiaciarnia Graphics. Earlier, there was a mass initiative called Sitofest, which brought together various studios scattered around Poland.

The beauty of screen printing is that you don’t need expensive equipment, but the space you can pollute is useful. It often happens that amateurs create their own tables.

– Our studio at TuBaza is perhaps a little more professional, but all the equipment is used before, taken from the declining printing presses of the commercial screen. In Kolibki, we managed to run a studio and organize seminars and exhibitions until we reached the Trisity Festival. Now a fifth, anniversary edition is due, but the war in Ukraine has thwarted those plans. That’s why we decided to help the artists who will take part in the event. They managed to raise “a little money” – and did it as best they could, by squeezing the paint out of the appropriate matching holes.

Eugenia Tynna, a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts, posted her work on Instagram during last year’s screen printing festival when the war broke out on February 24. Brick soon began to build the wall, so he came to the base here to “reprint” his works.

– The festival would start in a week. I thought we had the opportunity, we could invite other artists we knew, and yes, thanks to Eugenia’s initiative and joint efforts, we started the campaign. Monica Krzeminska and Julia Opalińska and I moved on the spot. The girls were amazing, they wouldn’t be here without their support.

“Screen printing for Ukraine” has been operating since February 25. Well-known artists submit their projects based on the current situation in Ukraine in terms of theme or color, and then hand-printed in the screen printing studio in TuBaza. The obtained prints are sold on the Internet platform, and 100% of the proceeds go to foundations that deal with the most urgent needs of people in Ukraine.

– There is still an exhibition of works for Ukraine. Vernissage will take place on Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 17.00 in the Art Gallery of the Gdansk Academy of Arts.

But here Baza is not just a studio, it is primarily people who create it. – Our colleague, who came to us a few years ago for a screen printing workshop, and then volunteered because he wanted to work with something like an artistic sieve, got stuck in Ukraine.

Vova Danilchyk has been helping the screen printing workshop at TuBaza for more than two years. He himself has created many unusual works, including the last one, which is significant because it was born out of longing for the family home. Using screen printing techniques, she reproduced a carpet hanging on the wall in her grandmother’s house. A picture that stays in his mind and remembers from his childhood takes place in Ukraine.

Five years ago, Vova and her boyfriend Tatiana moved to Poland, where they built their own home. But even though they decided to get married in their homeland, love took them straight to the center of hell. On Friday, the couple had to return home. Unfortunately, only a few days after taking the oath, they had to leave. After traveling for a week, the girl arrived in Poland, but the boy could not cross the border.

This war does not take place outside the foundation, Vova’s story is the story of each of Tuba’s friends. Thus, it was clear that Mateusz was acting for Ukraine.

– I thought we could support him in this way. If a member of our foundation continues like this, he lives in a city (Krivyi Roh) that can be eaten by the Russian army. We are in constant contact with him, he managed to take his wife and part of his family to the border. Although he and his cousin volunteered to help the Moldovan border, they eventually returned to their parents, who did not want to leave their homes.

– One day we see our friend, the next day we see the victims of the war. When a friend is in the middle of a conflict, the tragedy and meaninglessness of the situation becomes even more striking. We want to shout, Vova, don’t be stupid, come back, but none of us has the right to understand what weaknesses and dilemmas torment him. It was a big boost to want to spend time in the studio every day. It became more personal for us, especially since we have more such friends.

The father of Vasil Savchenko, who runs a gallery in Gdansk with his son, is also stuck in Lviv. They organize an artistic space on a daily basis, trying to ensure any space that replaces the security of their compatriots today. Collects lists of the most necessary items and organizes transportation

– Most of the money we collected from the sale of posters, more than 60,000 together and through each other’s own channels, we donated simply to support what Savchenko did. We hope that this money will be directly supported by specific individuals.

– Screen printing is reactive. Banners and stained paper were made in the basements with screen printing. It was difficult to hide professional machines under the communes, the state confiscated them, and the sieve could be made of socks, gelatine, and a few chemical ingredients. It was possible to print a lot of material in a short time. Mass scale, guerrilla style – emphasizes Mateusz Żywicki.

Screen printing has played an important role in the history of protests, opposition and the fight against unfair propaganda, which is why poster bricks are even more valuable for Ukraine. Although there is very little symbolism, there is a sea of ​​hope in every point engraved on paper.

Artists participating in the action: Ada Zielińska, Agata Królak, Ania Gawron, Anita Wasik, Anna Rudak, Eugenia Tynna, Joanna Czaplewska, Gosia Herba, Patrycja Podkościelny, Patryk Hardziej, Kasia Pakuła, Marizek Velasmac (Marizek Salamasc)

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