Notebook

Maybe

In 1949, 53 years old, having recorded his account of a war during which he’d endured and witnessed terrible things, faced now with the suffocation of Poland, Józef Czapski asked himself if it was still possible to paint. Should he paint, a new form of expression was called for — but was the pursuit of art even moral? He wrote to Hering: ‘All I want to do now is to disconnect myself from other painters, from the Louvre, from the methods, and to use all my passions to gnaw their way into some painting of mine. Maybe a painting of an old Jewish woman in a train or standing at the Otwock station is closer to my heart today than the most scrumptious Parisian ideas. My painting really seems to have no use for Paris. I have one good friend here who continues to blast me harshly for not painting. Even though I tell him, “But the sky is falling, and you want me to sit and paint?” And he says, “Maybe the sky is falling because you and the others have stopped painting.”‘ (In Karpeles, p. 268).