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Joanna Sierko-Filipowska
Born on February 13, 1960 in Bialystok.
In 1985 she graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
- She studied in the workshop studio of Prof. Halina Chrostowska
and painting studio of Prof. Jerzy Tchórzewski.
In 1986 she was awarded an artist grant sponsored by the Minister of Culture and Art.
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I remember my first ‘eye to eye’ with Joanna and her paintings. A nice, fair-haired girl with a lovely smile.
And her paintings?
Now, after she had asked me to write this introductory note for her catalogue, she reminded me of the fact that for the first time I was watching her paintings without saying a word. Of course she has been waiting impatiently for my reaction but she was not an exception, other students did too. Yet undoubtedly, Joanna was a kind of a ‘Maverick’ at our university. But what sort of a ‘Maverick’? The one who is a true artist? (since mavericks are real artists more often than others who march swiftly in some line). Or maybe the one whose otherness derives simply from that fact that Joanna Sierko is this rare ‘noble freak’, even though the plastic layer of her paintings left a lot to be desired. And the reason for my prolonged silence was that I needed some time to think how to start talking with her and how to guide her, so that she doesn’t lose what she has on the inside and at the same time, doesn’t ‘sin’ against the decalogue of the art of painting. Image
Her paintings attested that she has seen surrealists, symbolists, visionary art which celebrates fantasy, imagination, feelings and which is not a ‘pure fine art’ (if it really exists or whatever the term actually means). At the same time however, her paintings proved that Joanna paints them in this way not because she had contact with it, started to have a liking for and wanted to reproduce it, but only because she has to, since she indeed belongs to this artistic family. Only such painters – dreamers, painters – poets, especially in current state of art are threatened by many dangers, such as cheap feigned poeticism, sentimentalism, imitativeness and, last but not least, bad taste. And here this young and nice girl could get down to this sort of art. It is dreadful to think what might come out of it! I didn’t get frightened though. All I did was pray silently, whishing knowledgeable and wise ghosts to guide her through this interesting, yet dangerous path she had chosen. And again, for me it went without saying that these were not the above examples but her genuine personality and imagination that made her paint like that, and not in some other way, even though this painting requires much more effort, if only for its technical preciseness, than other convention of nonchalant painting practiced by students. And I was not mistaken. Joanna was making rapid and remarkable progress and started to express her dreams and metaphors plastically. She still develops. It is a very personal painting, making use of plastic metaphor, convincing, sincere, void of drastic scenes, surrealism and cheap sentimentalism, the one which becomes an inherent part of our fine art produced by such artists like Malczewski, Wojtkiewicz and Mikulski. Have a nice journey, your own, enchanted journey, Joanna.

Prof. Jerzy Tchórzewski

Image[…] By giving this word summoned from dreams and imagination such materially visual shape the artist does not take it quite seriously. She preserves its vision not without a hint of fairly subtle irony and lyrical sense of humor. […]
Artistic work of Joanna Sierko invites spectator to illusory fairy-tale reality, whose atmosphere is oversaturated with provoking, yet innocent eroticism. She invokes world full of inner harmony, like memories of wonderful holidays from distant childhood. Looking at her paintings we can go back there at least for a moment …

Kinga Kawalerowicz
Paintings of Joanna Sierko are just like their author – beautiful, romantic, extremely subtle and fabulously fairy-tale.
I like contemplating them!
I enjoy absorbing their atmosphere!
They transpose into our brutal world shreds of child’s dreams, belief in beauty and time we forgot that exists,
time suspended between stars
and dew
between dawn
and dusk
between sky
and earth
time of peace, love, longing and hope!
Dorota Staliska
Image[…] I always wait for the painting. I look and wait. There are paintings that remain silent. And others that would whisper a few words more or less distant to my imagination, more or less important to me. And yet there are others that make it impossible just to pass by. There we stand enchanted or rebellious, bewitched or hurt … Joanna Sierko succeeds in dragging us into a journey full of mysteries.
A couple in love sailing on a tiny boat made of flower petal. One can hear splash of water and quiet conversation of these two. They are so small that marsh marigolds reach up to their shoulders. We hear silence before the storm. Dark clouds, sun, rain will fall and there is gusty wind. What will happen with this couple in love?
A boy-wayfarer in red dwarf cap wanted to cross a lake. From the mist emerges the guardian angel with huge, protective wings. The angel will warn him, will not let him go further … Unforgettable vision, extraordinary light! The Angel has magnificent wings of a predatory bird. His wings are dangerous but he is strong and good. A blue bird with the body of a strong man …

Marta Klubowicz - Sukces nr.3 1992
Image Her paintings made an overwhelming impression on me with their concealed symbolism, originality, self-evident relations with tradition and ethical message not many of contemporary painters could stand up to. For this reason, Joanna Sierko – Filipowska should be regarded as one of the most outstanding personalities of the contemporary Polish art, who took up from our tradition the most important themes and tries to transfer them to the future. Tangible, yet irrational isolations – heroes’ solitude … And mostly women are heroines of these paintings, among them the author herself in numerous self-portraits, little travelers, elves, birds, butterflies, wolves … Even gathered at crossroads they do not cease to be lonely, secluded, isolated from bright Arcadian landscape; happy yet not joyful. They are beautiful and they unfold around themselves the climate of beauty. Their smiles do not show that their dreams came true but rather that they gave up their dreams and resigned to passing away. Maybe for this reason features of women in their semi-joyfulness remind of La Gioconda’s facial expression. … They do not await, they do not seek, even though they miss… They simply understood the essence of existence and enjoy the very fact of it, the only chance for individual existence bestowed by the Fate, String of Coincidences, Destiny, Mystery…
Joanna has created her own style, point of view, she acts as intermediary between us and reality she happened to live in. She treats color differently, she creates different perspectives, precisely yet subtly bares biological transformations of leaves, stems, flowers…
I’m standing in front of a woman-angel peeling potatoes under a branch of butterflies taking some time off…
I’m scrutinizing it, I’m looking for a key and suddenly I know: in her paintings even a butterfly has its personality and character, its own solitude before departure. The reality of idealized details besets us with its fragility and transience…

Andrzej Zaniewski 2001
Image Purple roses are in a full bloom and they are just about to fall off. Flowers of sweat peas entwine the wall with thicket of monstrous pink flowers. In Joanna’s paintings, as in art of the Young Poland movement, exaggerated nature symbolizes feelings. Solitude, mystery, fear of passing are mixed together with admiration for the beauty of the world and blossom. – I want my pictures to tell a story, to show emotions.

Katarzyna Rzehak – Twój Styl 2002
Image Both the painter and her master Prof. Jerzy Tchórzewski from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw experience a more obvious fascination with Polish modernism: Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Vlastimil Hoffman. There are, however, more fascinations, borrowings or citations of this type. Angels from ‘Encounter’ have gothic wings borrowed from medieval panel paintings or icons. And, at the same time, these female angels wear lingerie popular in the XIX century. ‘Freshwater Venus’ refers to the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli. In ‘Three Musketeers’ there is something from the paintings by Tadeusz Makowski and in others the atmosphere and motives of illustrations by Jan Szancer in Andersen fairy tales. And even influences of hyperrealism. Having admitted that can we accuse the painter of imitativeness and lack of independence, epigonism delayed by some 100 years or even more? No, we can not. Joanna Sierko simply flies like a butterfly from one flower to another, from one artistic creation to another, she gently mocks the critics. Citations from other painters characteristic for pastiche or, according to postmodernist style, assigning objects new meanings (for instance apples hanging on a clothesline alongside underwear fastened by clothespins) add subtle self-mockery and touch of good humor to Joanna’s paintings. Because there are in her life such moments when she wants to tell us something important through her paintings and others when she amuses herself while painting, trying with her cheerfulness to put the spectator in a good mood. As if she wanted to tell us – I can do both and I am going to surprise you even more.

Henryk Urbanowski - ELITY 2002