Observing the Beholder

Jerzy Armata (2017.08) PFA Film Magazine

The medium-length documentary "Diary of a Beholder" by Jarosław Migoń, dedicated to Jacek Sroka, a well-known Krakow painter and graphic artist, was honored with three awards at this year's edition of the Hamburg World Media Festival: "intermedia-globe GOLD", "intermedia Special Award – MAGIC EYE" (for cinematography), and "intermedia-globe GRAND AWARD". Jacek Sroka, a graduate of the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts (1981), has won numerous prestigious awards and distinctions, including at the Mulhouse Graphics Biennale (1984), the International Miniature Exhibition in Toronto (1986), Graphica Atlantica in Reykjavik (1987), and the Vaasa Graphics Biennale (1987). At the Seoul Graphics Biennale (1988), he received the Grand Prix. A few years ago, he had a significant retrospective exhibition at the Krakow National Museum, although, truth be told, he seems to be better known – and appreciated – abroad than in his home country. Jarosław Migoń, a computer graphic designer and visual effects specialist, became interested in Sroka's art a few years ago, shooting remarkably successful impressions dedicated to important paintings by the Krakow painter. One of them, "Sexuality of the Polish Flowers Street," was recognized at the Krakow Film Festival "After Hours" (2013). Later, he created – based on Sroka's paintings – highly attractive visuals illustrating concerts of the famous Krakow accordion band Motion Trio, and also became the curator of the artist's exhibitions at the Pharmacy Museum (2014) and Archetura Gallery (2015) in Krakow. This close cooperation between the painter and the fascinated "visualist" led to a fascinating documentary dedicated to the artist. The starting point was the artist's diary. Here is an excerpt: "Tuesday, 04/25. Painted a Diora radio with wallpaper in medium format until noon. Did not go out. Wednesday, 04/26. Did nothing. Did not go out. Thursday, 04/27. In the morning, watched the neighbors. Painted without conviction. Friday, 04/28. Sketches for 'Restif’s Incidents.' Did not go out. Saturday, 04/29. Did not paint, did not go out. Sunday, 04/30. Did not paint." I have known Jacek and have been close friends with him for over 40 years. Our professional and artistic paths have even crossed several times. He once illustrated a poetry volume for a group I was part of, or participated in a happening prepared by it, painting a huge canvas during a concert. He designed a poster for one edition of the Zakopane Art Film Review, which I programmatically led for several years, and we were neighbors at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, where Jacek taught graphics, and I lectured on history and theory of animation. Therefore, I am quite an unusual viewer of the "Diary of a Beholder," to say the least – extremely subjective. Especially since I appear in it in a secondary role.

But seriously, it is very solid cinema, full of charm and unpretentiousness. It contains "the whole truth about Sroka," but there is also humor, distance, playfulness... Because in this documentary, not only "the truth of time, the truth of the screen" counts, but also pure creation, for art is nothing else but the creation of dreams. During a family breakfast at the Srokas' and their daughters', suddenly the head of the family notices: "We never actually eat breakfasts together. But this is a film, after all..."


Jerzy Armata Film and music critic, journalist, educator. Selector and juror of many film festivals. Member of the Program Council of the Krakow Film Festival. Artistic Director of the Tarnów Film Award, honored in 2011 by the Polish Film Institute in the category of the best national event. Vice-chairman of the Krakow branch of the Polish Filmmakers Association, member of the boards of the Circle of Film Makers for Children and Youth and the Animated Film Section of the SFP.

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