Collection of sketches and drawings reveal little-known side of film director Andrzej Wajda

Despite having a string of award-winning films to his name, the director’s first love was painting. Kamil A. Krajewski

A new exhibition shows a fascinating side to Oscar-winning film director Andrzej Wajda by demonstrating his love for Japan with a series of his personal drawings.

Over 100 sketches from his various trips to the country have gone on display at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Kraków, which he founded with his wife in 1994.

Great Buddha in Kōtoku Temple, Kamakura. Working mainly in pen, he also completed several paintings in a surrealist, abstract style and brought his sketches to life with watercolours and crayons.Kamil A. Krajewski

The exhibition entitled the ‘Japanese Notebook’ presents a collection of his drawings depicting the interesting and unique mysteries he came across during his time in the land of the rising sun such as temples, castles, sumo wrestlers, koi fish, kabuki theatre actors, gardens and cherry-blossom trees.

Despite having a string of award-winning films to his name, the director’s first love was painting which he credited with helping him get through World War II.

Japanese carps koi.Kamil A. Krajewski

Working mainly in pen, he also completed several paintings in a surrealist, abstract style and brought his sketches to life with watercolours and crayons.

In one of his sketchbooks he wrote: "Whenever I don't draw for several days in a row, I forget everything.  I go back to the natural state of stupor which consists of using the faculty of sight only to the extent required to avoid stumbling or banging my head when getting into a car."

Over 100 sketches from his various trips to the country have gone on display at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Kraków, which he founded with his wife in 1994.Kamil A. Krajewski

After the war he went into filmmaking but never stopped drawing, documenting his everyday life with a pen instead of a camera and sketching scenes he wanted to shoot.

He first visited Japan in 1970 to promote Polish culture at the World Exposition and then a further three times in both the 1980s and 1990s.

Oscar-winning film director Andrzej Wajda demonstrated his love for Japan with a series of personal drawings.Mirosław Trembecki/PAP

During his trips he filled 14 notepads and sketchbooks with his thoughts and drawings.

Wajda found kindred spirits in the Japanese, writing in one of his books: "They have all those traits that I have been trying to develop and nurture in myself all my life: seriousness, a sense of responsibility and honour, and also the need for tradition.

After the war Wajda went into filmmaking but never stopped drawing, documenting his everyday life with a pen instead of a camera and sketching scenes he wanted to shoot.Kamil A. Krajewski

“To travel to Japan is only to change the place. You feel no motion in time. Except for minor, and thus unnoticeable, differences, it is all very similar. The gardens are the most Japanese of all arts because lasting is implied by their very nature… the lasting of stones, the lasting of water  and waterfalls. Nothing to improve here, nothing to alter. You cannot design a garden, you have to set it up… keep thinking about it.”

The exhibition runs until 6th March 2020.