What Is Needed Is Concentration, Inner Silence and Willingness to Listen. Koji Kamoji in Creative Dialogue with Polish Artists

Anna Dzierżyc-Horniak, Ph.D.
(The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin; Polish Institute of World Art Studies)

When thinking of the presence of Japanese culture in contemporary Polish art, it is no possible to omit Koji Kamoji. The artist who was born in Tokyo, but who has been living in Poland for 60 years now is in this context someone very unique and someone special. On the one hand he declares that he does not feel Polish, because he was born in Japan. On the other, he managed to grow into the Polish artistic milieu and on numerous occasions he was representing Poland during collective exhibitions abroad. “Japan versus Poland, Asia versus Europe. Throughout my entire artistic life I try to figure this problem out” – Kamoji says. The way in which this problem is tackled – or in other words – the way in which a creative individuality is shaped between the tradition of art and culture of the Far East and the European influences is a very interesting matter. However, I would like to look at Kamoji’s body of works from a slightly different perspective. I would like to see it as a transcultural phenomenon, considered through the dialogue that the artist enters into with particular Polish artists. It goes without saying that he belongs to Polish culture and that is why within the framework of this affiliation we can point at his different relationships with the artists of at least two generations. I am thinking in particular of Henryk Stażewski, Edward Krasiński and Włodzimierz Borowski. The latter, who closely observed Kamoji’s artistic path was aware of these connections and he said: “the oriental sensibility of Kamoji, through the relations with the works of Polish artists, has permanently written itself into the context of our art, purifying and enriching its image”. I am interested in the mutual relationships and artistic friendships that gave birth to this artistic value. On the basis of a few examples, such as: Blue Stripe and Shade (2004), Basho (1988), Bottom of Heaven (1994) or Koji Kamoji, Edward Krasiński, Henryk Stażewski (1988), I will be analysing how a contemporary artist such as Kamoji takes from the Japanese spirituality and aesthetics, and does so by doing his own “lesson of Stażewski”. It is precisely in this dialogue of Kamoji with Polish artists that I see a special dimension of the process of discovering Europe (and Poland) by Japan and the other way round.


Art historian, graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, currently working at the Institute of Art History of the Catholic University of Lublin. Her research interests include Polish art from the 1960s to 1980s, including, in particular, artists from the Foksal Gallery. She also analyzes contemporary artistic practices developed around the category of “archive” (the so-called “archival impulse”), and is also inspired by the research perspective captured as “Performative turn”. Author of a monograph on the painting of Maria Stangret. Prepares the publication in which she describes the genesis of the uprising and the first „heroic” period of activity of the Foksal Gallery. Member of AICA and the Polish Institute of World Art Studies.