scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 1992
Painting Method: Mouth painter
Ireneusz Betlewicz was born in Ostróda in 1954. He has muscular dystrophy, a progressive wasting of the muscles.He belongs to the Polish Artist Association. He holds the order ‘Services to Culture’, awarded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.He has belonged to Association of Foot and Mouth Painting Artists of the World since 1992.He has cooperated with the ‘Amun’ Publishing House since its inception in 1993.
He has been presenting his literary work and poetry in periodicals and literary competitions since the beginning of the 1980s. He has appeared in print in "Gazecie Olsztyńskiej", "Ziemi Ostródzkiej", "Stolicy", "Polityce", "Plastyce i Wychowaniu", "Mandragorze", "Nowej Okolicy Poetów" and "Integracji”, amongst others. His verse is included in the anthologies Metamorphosis, The Sending of Hope part 1 Poetry, Say Yes To Life part 2 Prose, and Rebellious. He has published two books of verse, and everything rests on hope and an apple rolling through the grass. He has been involved in visual art since the 1980s, making a study of various techniques. As the measure of his condition increased, he gave up sculpture, fabrics and some oil techniques. He focussed on pen drawing. At the end of the 1980s, he was forced to give up painting and drawing with his hands and he now holds the equipment in his mouth. He lives in Ostróda.
He says:"In painting, through the depiction of symbolic meaning, I strive to achieve a synthesis of reality, to express a diversity of content in the most abbreviated and sparing way. My creative work is a search for cohesion, a striving to discover a universal link which would unite humanity and the world. To strip away the artificial picture of a human being, a combination of manners, customs and worldly habits. I’m inspired by life, by its undefined mystery, the impossibility of making specific plans for the morrow, the speculation of human ideas, and, at the same time, the natural flow of destiny. My work is a kind of philosophy in miniature; it contains the cruelty of constancy, the consciousness of being, the sense of individual space, and, at the same time, hope. Hope, the one mechanism which, it its own particular way, has kept life going on the planet for billions of years. People, birds and trees are the most frequent theme in my work. Figures of people, where the motif is the human face, but not in caught naturalistically, not the realistic face, but an interior picture – thoughts. The face – a image formed of thoughts, ideas coming into being. To say more about the human being, about his fate, I use the image of a winged human. This creature doesn’t signify an angel, it’s a human being, equipped with the attributes of flight, the possibility of everywhereness and oneness. Proportionally, the wings are small, they don’t assure their owner of the capability of flight, only of its possibility. Alongside the full, two-winged figures, there also exist one-winged figures of chrome. They are more human, made more human by the impossibility of flying; they are engaged in a dialogue, whether with themselves or with space.
Another frequent theme in my work is birds; they are spirited creatures, struggling against mercilessness; this is manifest in their sparse wings, short and incapable of lifting them, they don’t grant the freedom of flight. Trees are another of my favourite themes, trees structured in a variety of ways. For me, a tree is a symbol of the battle against gravity, a link between the sky and the earth, between humanity and the heavens. It’s a way out, beyond incapability, against the laws of gravity; it grows upwards. The boughs unfurl like arms, calling out to the sky, they blossom for it, grow more beautiful. Or perhaps they’re crying out for help! Paper is very important, the fundamental material in my work; its substance, texture, colour, format, age. The paper’s matter can be an element which instigates the birth of a single work or a cycle of works. My predominant technique is pen drawing (steel and ink, black or white, depending on the colour of the paper), though I also work in pastels and oil paints. The way I work is to pour the ink on to the paper and in places drain the paint away , or putting ink to paper in the form of little dots. This way of drawing means that it’s as if the theme of the work is lit by an unidentified light from inside, peeled from its shell like a sculpture hammered from a uniform hunk of rock. I don’t like giving titles to my work. The work should be clear to the viewer at the level of vision and spirit, describing it is an unnecessary extravagance. The name may turn up at the end! The artist’s role is to transform his own perception of reality in such a way that it takes on artistic dimensions. A drawing, logical, definitive as a sign, should be the essence alone, the concept, reshaped, suggested with such power that it pushes the eye and the senses to the edge of pain. It should be stamped with a clear style, his projection of himself." Ireneusz Betlewicz has presented his work in individual exhibitions and as part of exhibition collections in BWA in Piotrków Trybunalski, BWA in Konin, Warsaw Town Hall, Muzeum Tyfolologiczne in Warsaw, Galeria AWF in Warsaw, Muzeum Zachodnio-Kaszubskie in Bytów, Centrum Animacji Kultury in Łucznica, Zamek Królewski in Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowy in Warsaw, Biblioteka Wojewódzka in Torun, Muzeum Historyczne in Warsaw, Galeria Polska in Vilnius, Galeria Delfina, the Polish Institute in Stockholm, The Spring Annual in Venice, The City Library Gallery in Fargeland, Sweden, Teatr Rozmaitości, Galeria Mariacka w Gdańsku, Muzeum in Grudziądz, Galeria Stara in Łódź, Galeria Pod Żaglami in Gdynia.