Thursday, November 30, 2023

Zbigniew Nyczak about His Art - Event Report from Playa Vista, 10/2023


The meeting with the artist Zbigniew Nyczak took place  on 21 October 2023 in Playa Vista, California, and was hosted by Elizabeth Kanski. We had the opportunity to participate in a fascinating presentation by Mr. Nyczak, a well-known painter and long-time member of our Club.

Zbigniew Nyczak discussed examples of his work over the years, illustrating his narrative with a presentation with about 150 slides. The spotlight was not only on the slides featuring oil paintings, but also on fascinating stories told by our artist, related to his journey to artistic success.

It turned out that Nyczak is not only an outstanding creator, as he has proven to the artistic world throughout his career, but also an excellent storyteller. He captivated everyone by recounting his fascinating adventures and stories related to his creativity, breaking into the heights of the artistic world, entering the company of Hollywood celebrities, well-known figures from film and television, athletes, and politicians.

In his case, his artistry was only a prelude to the development of his artistic life, which led him to the salons of the contemporary social elite, among whom he found clients, sponsors, and friends. Thanks to the position he found himself in, he presented his art in many museums, galleries, and exhibition halls in the United States, Europe, and Dubai.

The painter told us about his artistic beginnings, the people who helped him, and how he found a wealthy clientele that allowed him to devote himself fully to art. He spoke about how he became involved with thoroughbred horse breeders, owners of racehorses bringing in million-dollar profits. About how he connected with prominent people in this business, allowing him to showcase his paintings from the west coast to the east and even overseas.

We heard about the surprising way he met the stepfather of the then-serving President Clinton in Kentucky, during the Kentucky Derby, with whom he became friends and who was also present at Nyczak's exhibition in Las Vegas.

Tight Corner by Zbigniew Nyczak

Nyczak discusses his paintings of race horses.

We learned about his artistic activities in the "Shoemaker Foundation" and about William Shoemaker himself, the legendary jockey, a hero of horse racing tracks, a crowd favorite who won 8,833 races in his career. Shoemaker's portrait by Nyczak ended up in the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the most prominent museum in the United States. The artist told us how he learned that this painting had been printed 30 feet high and hung on the front facade of the museum, promoting the institution.

"That's probably my greatest achievement," Nyczak said. "The collection of this museum includes paintings by the most distinguished painters in the world. It's like having a large image of my painting hung on the front facade of the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, or the Prado in Madrid."

Last Stretch by Zbigniew Nyczak

He told us stories about flying with his own exhibition of 20 paintings to Dubai in United Arab Emirates at the invitation of a sheikh. This experience was related to the World Cup (World Horse Racing). The stakes were $4 million. Due to the status of this global event, several accompanying events were held there. The painter received a proposal to represent the United States in an artistic way, which he accepted. At the Modjeska Club meeting, he spoke about the logistics of this event and the adventures that befell him, including, for instance, how he came to paint the portrait of the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. He also talked about how he conducted painting classes at the university in the neighboring Emirate of Sharjah for the son and daughter of the ruling sheikh. The painter told us about the princess, as if from a fairy tale, wrapped in tulle, and how he still remembers her scent. 

Winner by Zbigniew Nyczak

We heard stories related to a horse named "Cigar" from California, which won the most important race in Dubai, and its breeders, Allen Poulson, the owner of Gulfstream Aerospace, whose stud farm and residence are located in Rancho Santa Fe (between Los Angeles and San Diego), where Nyczak also  presented his art.

There were stories about banquets and balls in the most prominent places, where his paintings were auctioned. These balls and banquets inspired him to paint swirling, dancing elegant couples, gentlemen in tuxedos, ladies in evening gowns - placed in ambiguous situations, almost kisses, secret dates, flirts, farewells after romance. These paintings of romantic figures feature elegant clothing, shining jewelry, strings of pearls; they reveal and conceal fascinating moods with secrets.

Cup of Tea by Zbigniew Nyczak

In a lighthearted manner, Nyczak recounted a story about how tickets to his solo exhibition at the Simic Gallery on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills cost $25.00 per person, while, at the same time, tickets to Picasso's exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art were $8.00.

Sensual Dance by Zbigniew Nyczak

Zbigniew Nyczak, Hugh Heffner,  and the painting of the Playboy Mansion

Elizabeth Kanski, who conducted the meeting, reminded us of how one day from the window of her office at Playboy Mansion West where she worked, she saw her friend Zbyszek in front of Hefner's residence. With easels, in a red shirt in the middle of the green lawn, he was working on a large-sized painting. Zbyszek told us how it happened that he created a portrait of Hugh Hefner's residence and about the grand gala at the Playboy Mansion, during which this painting was presented. We also learned some interesting facts about "Playboy" because Zbyszek participated in several subsequent projects and events of this organization.

Nyczak and paintings from the film Ogniem i Mieczem

Artistic successes eventually led Poland to take notice of him. How did this happen? Here we learned that Zbyszek's wife, Ewa, has a significant contribution to her husband's successes. She is an efficient agent and managed logistically most of the artist's projects. In this case, it was associated with the monumental film epic With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i Mieczem, based on historical epic by Henryk Sienkiewicz). The creators of the film, producer Jerzy Michaluk and director Jerzy Hoffman, invited Nyczak to the film set to create artistic documentation of the film in progress.

Nyczak i Andrzej Seweryn jako Jeremi Wisniowiecki. 

Nyczak emphasized that it was his independent, individual project. He recounted some fascinating events from the film set. As he claims, it was the adventure of his life. He also mentioned the great trust placed in him by the film creators, who allowed him to move freely around the film set. The painter told us how he prepared for this project, how he collected materials, how he observed actors, scenery, costumes, and filmed scenes. 

Portret of Krzysztof Kowalewski as Zagloba, by Zbigniew Nyczak

The artist spoke about the working conditions of the entire team. He also mentioned friendships formed during the filming, which have lasted to this day. He explained to us what his work involved and how, upon returning to his studio in Los Angeles, he painted 20 paintings related to the film. This project took a whole year! These were paintings of significant size, depicting portraits of the main characters as well as battle scenes, representing the clothing and weaponry of different military formations.

Portret Izabelli Skorupco jako Heleny w Ogniem i Mieczem

Nyczak then described the adventure that awaited him in Warsaw when, upon arrival in the country, he went to the airport to pick up his paintings that he had previously sent. The paintings disappeared. Only after the police raid on the Okęcie warehouse, the crate with paintings miraculously reappeared. The painter then discussed the film premiere, the exhibition of paintings, interviews in the press, and their presentation on various television stations. Finally, he spoke about the auction of these paintings, conducted by Polsat TV.

Awaiting for a Spirit by Zbigniew Nyczak

Later, we learned about his artistic interests in Native Americans and pioneers who came to this country, the picturesque nature of their clothing and character, and their history, including newcomers conquering the Wild West. We also learned that the artist drew inspiration for creating his paintings from numerous trips to the Southwest and personal participation in ceremonies of various Indian tribes, called powwows. These travels also delighted him with picturesque landscapes of mountains, canyons, and national parks, which he did not neglect to transfer to canvas.

Arch by Zbigniew Nyczak

Nyczak is also a very good portraitist, as we could see in several presented examples. He explained to us what painting a portrait involves, what to pay attention to, and how to cooperate with the model. He admitted that a portrait is a difficult art that requires maximum concentration.

Portrait of a Boy by Zbigniew Nyczak 

Recently, in September 2023, at the Modjeska Club exhibition "50 Years of Art - Artists of the Helena Modjeska Culture Club," Nyczak showed a series of beautiful nudes. At the vernissage at Vienna Woods Gallery, these artworks enjoyed great interest from the audience. During the October 2023 interview in Playa Vista, we saw more examples of these paintings and also of still life paintings. Finally, we learned about Zbigniew Nyczak's artistic motto: "It doesn't matter what you paint, but how you paint it."

Utah, by Zbigniew Nyczak

The Modjeska Club's meeting with Zbigniew Nyczak was an extraordinary journey through his passionate life and work. It seems that the artist not only gained recognition in the art world, but also became an integral part of many interesting events and places. The presentation certainly provided the participants with an unforgettable experience, inspiration and a new look at the world of art.

To see more of his paintings, please visit his website:


Projekcja slajdow: Elzbieta Czajkowska

Maja Trochimczyk welcomes guests

 Elzbieta Kanski led the conversation.

Nyczak dicusses his painting "Last Stretch"

Nyczak discusses his "romantic" paintings in Art Deco style.

Elizabeth Kanski conduct the interview

Signing the Club Chronicle Book.

Ewa and Zbigniew Nyczak with his self-portrait.

Elzbieta Kanski, Katarzyna Smiechowicz, Zbigniew Nyczak, Maja Trochimczyk

Katarzyna Smiechowicz, Vice President; Beata Czajkowska, Secretary; 
Zbigniew Nyczak, and Maja Trochimczyk, President

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