"I, Beetle"

poetry book by Ryszard Grzyb

book cover: gyyethy, Karolina Maria Wiśniewska

Author: Ryszard Grzyb
Publishing house: Fundacja na rzecz Kultury i Edukacji im. Tymoteusza Karpowicza
ISBN: 978-83-956730-1-6
Format: A5
Pages: 144
Year: 2020 r.
Language: Polish



"Ja, chrząszcz (I, Beetle) is Ryszard Grzyb’s collection of poetry, encompassing over one hundred works from the years 1978–2002. Previously, the artist published Zdania napowietrzne (Air-Borne Sentences) with the Czuły Barbarzyńca publishing house. Some of his poems were printed in major literary journals and catalogues which accompanied painting exhibitions.

Until recently, the poems were scattered. Now, they have been collected and arranged chronologically by the author. The vast timeframe is testament to his tremendous need for expression through the visual arts and the written word equally. Literary works presented in this publication do not center around one subject. The poems are separate entities which comprise very personal stories, told initially by a young man and then by one who matures and grows with every piece.

Grzyb is more commonly associated with his scandalous 1980s paintings and colourful compositions dominated by his distinctive bestiary. In his poems, he seems to be balancing on an edge between a fascination with the surrounding world, the depths of despair and a sense of helplessness. The reader, faced with Grzyb’s apt and detailed notes on reality, may ask the question whether he or she and Grzyb indeed live in the same world. Could human minds and eyes be tuned so differently? Each poem reveals a manner of deepened perception and reflection which surprises the reader by capturing and describing things and phenomena with such simple words, and yet so unusually.

Grzybs considerations on identity, alienation, loneliness and disappointment in the everyday are far from weepy lamentations. The attitude of airplane pilots from the volume’s closing poem seems to be its credo: “they know very well that all things are given to us and each can be lost at any moment.”

Because it encompasses twenty-four years of my life, this selection of poetry reveals the work of fate and time. The first poems were written by person who was twenty-four years old, the final ones – by a forty-six-year-old.

Some poems belong to the era called life before life; others approach the era called life after life.
Poetry is painting and painting is poetry. Reflection is an imagination (an image) created by clashing with the essence of reality or the dark side of travelling through time. This poetry can be described with the words: existence, fate, delight, and the unrelenting expression of what truly concerns us.

Poetry is the discovery of oneself and infinity. It gives meaning to life and to the search for knowledge. It brings forth the discipline of everyday inquiry and it protects one from smallness.

These poems are an image of my internal biography, which the recipients of my art do not know well. Just as perpetually as I paint, I write poems. Without them, any familiarity with my work is only partial. Painting and poetry are equal domains of my artistic practice.

Ryszard Grzyb, 2020

poems read by the author (in Polish)

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