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About the Competition

from the introduction to the exhibition catalogue „Józef Gielniak i laureaci konkursu Jego imienia” K. Kułakowska, E. Ratajczak, Jelenia Góra 2006.

The first edition of the Józef Gielniak National Competition was held in 1977. The essential rules of the contest were established then. The basic requirement concerning the regulations was that the works had to be made as linocuts; then woodcuts were allowed, and later on, all the forms of relief print were accepted. The first seven editions (1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989) were designed for Polish graphic artists, members of ZPAP (The Society of Polish Visual Artists) or graduates of the academies of fine arts. The works highlighted and awarded by the jury, consisting of distinguished Polish graphic artists, became the property of the Museum in Jelenia Góra (in the years 1977 – 2001 it was called The District Museum in Jelenia Góra). The jury chose the works for the further exhibition and selected the works for the awards. There was always a catalogue published for the exhibition and a poster designed by well-known artists (such as: Jan J. Aleksiun, Henryk Waniek, Jacek Szewczyk, Ryszard Jędroś). The medals received by the laureates were designed by medal designers (such as: Stanisław Słonina, Ewa Olszewska-Borys, Alfreda Poznańska, Zbigniew Frączkiewicz). The competition used to be a biennial designed for Polish artists until 1989. However, the growing popularity of the contest made organizers change the regulations. The most important changes appeared in 1993. The competition was converted into the international triennial of relief print. Since 2000 the secrecy of works has been abandoned. The number of works submitted by one artist has been limited (in the last competition these were two prints only). Since the X competition the size of the prints has been limited to 100 x 70 cm. In present regulations there is no necessity to be the graduate of the artistic school, yet the contest is still designed for professional graphic artists. The popularity of the competition has been permanently growing, particularly among the artists from abroad. In 1993 there were 112 works delivered by 52 artists at the exhibition following the contest. Only 6 of them were foreigners (from Canada, Argentina, Finland, Latvia). In 2000 there were 172 prints submitted by 102 authors (the limit was three works submitted by one artist). 45 works of 27 artists were from abroad (from 15 countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Holland, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the USA). At the exhibition after the contest in 2003, there were 170 prints made by 148 artists, including 60 works of foreign artists from 25 countries (the counties mentioned above and also: Slovakia, Belarus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico). The competition has always had restrictions concerning the technique of the submitted prints and this regulation makes the contest distinctive. The main idea of the competition was to honour the memory of the outstanding Polish graphic artist Józef Gielniak (1932 – 1972) and collect works of great artistic value, presenting different artistic approaches and using different techniques of relief print (with preference of linocut and woodcut). Krystyna Bartnik, in the introduction to the catalogue of the X edition of the competition writes as follows: (…) It is good, that there are quality meetings of the artists such as the competition for linocut and woodcut artists in Jelenia Góra, a triennial of woodcut in Banská Bystrica or biennial for the artists using dry point technique in Užice. They stress the importance of such traditional, yet precious, techniques in times when easy and fast ones, like serigraphy, lithography or computer print are so popular. We become aware, that there are still artists, who prepare their plates themselves in their studios. It is rare in the times, when appearance of photography, film, television, video, computers and the internet caused devaluation of multiplied picture. (…) The following competition should be announced this year. The event is rather costly and requires a lot of effort from the organizers. First of all, it requires an independent secretariat and premises. The high organizational expenses, even if the entrance fee is introduced, are still the main hindrance. There were 11 editions of the competition during the last 30 years. The contest was an excellent way to promote the museum, the town and the region, as well as good way to remember about its patron Józef Gielniak. The very calculable advantage of the event is the basic collection of the contemporary relief print graphic works, showing tendencies in this domain of fine arts. It was due to the regulation concerning ownership of the awarded works. They became the property of the organizers.
The exhibition of the laureates of the previous eleven contests, combined with presentation of Józef Gielniak’s works, was designed to initiate a widespread discussion concerning the future of the event.

Past Editions

I Edition II Edition III Edition XIII Edition
IV Edition V Edition VI Edition XIV Edition
VII Edition VIII Edition IX Edition
X Edition XI Edition XII Edition