The Gesture of Orpheus A presentation of poetic prose by Andrzej Saja and an exhibition of photographs by Janusz Leśniak.

The Gesture of Orpheus

A presentation of poetic prose by Andrzej Saja and an exhibition of photographs by Janusz Leśniak.

Mia ART GALLERY invites you to an unusual artistic marriage: the poetic prose of Andrzej Saja combined with the photographs of Janusz Leśniak, publications and exhibition, inspiration and its effect.

What is creativity, what is its source, where does the need to name the ephemeral, the anxiety and unexplained yearning with words, images and sounds come from?

Another publication in the Let’s talk about Art! series is about creating, seen through the eyes of an experienced, critical observer of the creativity of others. it is a meeting with the mythical Orpheus and his passion, as well as an encounter with incredible photographs with hidden Orphic mysteries within them.


Nota o publikacji „Gest Orfeusza”


The book is a collection of essays and poetic prose inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, referring to the contemporary problems of interpretation of the creative process, including the photographic “gesture”. Thus, the first part contains an essay on the conditions under which it would be possible to (photographically) record this elusive dimension of reality, the epitome of which may be the “lost” Eurydice. The excellent photographs of “shadows” by Janusz Leśniak provide a kind of illustration of this process (a separate interpretation of his work is undertaken by the text that closes the book Spojrzenie stamtąd [A Look from Over There]).

Further parts of the publication include poetic prose fragments and poetry reinterpreting the Orphic myth – this time based on the subjective ideas of the author, including those in its reversal or denial. “Orpheus in the Underworld of Art”, as well as “Notes on Orpheus” and “Notes on Eurydice” are the proof, referring to the recipients’ feelings and sensitivities more than their cognitive abilities.


The myth of Orpheus is in fact a symbol of sufficient capacity to facilitate a reference to what creativity (and art) is, to what its perception is – the “descent” into the Underworld of consciousness (Memory). The return with the image – and nothing more – is certainly an expression of the purpose of art; it also encourages the reception of its transience, its vanishing, and the difficulty of presence. It is something that – as we know – may end in a disaster: in the sense that all the physical and spiritual characteristics of the “object” that the artist ties to lead “out of there” into obvious reality may become apparent. However, the artist can always – and as usual – restore those ideas and the images that represent this state of affairs through their work.


As Andrzej Saj writes:

Myths – the oldest sequences of our culture… What can they still tell us today? Are they still educational and moving? Perhaps: poetry, essays, and other texts inspired with signals from the Orphic space of culture (and art) will continue to have a meaning, as everything we create has a meaning. They are a kind of inscription on the monuments of our culture (in literature, music, opera, visual arts); some are a bit faded and worn, but others are still alive, still bleeding. Pain is the essence of poetry, the “pain of existence” brings about art… so Orpheus’ symbolic gesture reflects our will to restore the fullness of freedom to decide about our Memory (and Oblivion) – the components of creativity. And that means that we can also stand against this mythology, in a way creating our own tale or another media message.


Janusz Leśniak is known as an author of photographs with his shadow, known as leśniaks. Since the mid-80s, he has focused only on photographing his shadow. In the 2010s, he started a cycle called leśniaks-mandalas. At the beginning of his relationship with film, he worked on television documentaries. Currently, he produces animated films based on his photography.

His works can be found in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau/Ottawa, the National Museum in Krakow, the Museum of the History of Photography in Krakow, and other collections. He shows his work in individual and group exhibitions in Poland and around the world. He lives and works in Krakow.