On 5 – 6 December 2019, Rzeszów hosted an academic symposium The Sacred and the Matter. Expression and Symbolism of the Material in Sacred Art, organised by the Documentation Centre for Contemporary Sacred Art at the University of Rzeszów as part of a series of meetings dedicated to the study of 19th- to 21st-century sacred art. The interdisciplinary conference, attended predominantly by artists and theologians, presented a wide range of topics concerning the relations between art and theology in the context of changes occurring in contemporary culture, related, among others, to the use of new materials or the emergence of new areas of artistic creativity (the so-called new media) favouring ephemeral activities on the borderlines of arts. In view of the wide range of issues, still so little explored, the editors of “Sacrum et Decorum” decided to support the popularisation of research in the field covered by the Rzeszów conference.
Fr Janusz Królikowski’s article, containing a synthetic view of the problems described above from a historical perspective up to the present day, may serve as an introduction to further analyses of the subject. A continuation of these reflections encompassing the latest art will be the subject of an article by another theologian – Karol Klauza, which is going to be published in the next issue of our journal.
In the current volume, the issues of symbolic content in relation to the material of sculpture in 19th century art are raised by Maria Nitka from the perspective of an art historian. The author focuses on the meaning of marble, a classical material of sculpture. Meanwhile, there are forthcoming texts showing how the contemporary revolution in the field of material and spatial structure formation has influenced sacred art, which are going to be published in the next issue of our journal.
Bożena Kostuch’s article presents a number of realisations made of ceramic panels intended for church interiors, which are not often to be found in contemporary sacred art. Most of them were created in the second half of the 20th century by cooperation between artists and craftspeople gathered in the “Kamionka” cooperative in Łysa Góra near Tarnów. In her text, the author indicates the need for a closer analysis of these interesting works, so far rather neglected in the literature on the subject.
The next two articles are a continuation of the theme of sacred painting inspired by the art of the icon, which has been frequently discussed in “Sacrum et Decorum”. Krystyna Czerni’s article discusses the relations between abstraction and icon in Jerzy Nowosielski’s monumental sacred projects. Anna Siemieniec, on the other hand, dedicates her text to the issue of Nowosielski’s and Stalony-Dobrzański’s cooperation with other, lesser-known icon painters in Poland, and to the issue of the reception of this type of art by the community of believers.
In the previous volume, we initiated a series of essays written by artists about their own work. These can provide potential materials for research, not only in contemporary sacred art and art inspired by religion, but also more broadly into the metaphysical trend present in the culture of our times. In this issue we offer a text by Grzegorz Niemyjski, a sculptor associated with Wrocław. This record of the artist’s reflections complements his sculptural works, which are an original artistic interpretation of biblical content.
With the latest volume of “Sacrum et Decorum” in hand, we would like to invite you to revisit the themes frequently discussed in our pages and to discover new topics, which will be continued in the next, forthcoming fourteenth issue of our annual publication.