Snapper tours whole country to capture over 500 patriotic murals

Photographer Wojciech Wilczyk toured the country in search of the murals. Wojciech Wilczyk

A Polish photographer has documented “patriotic murals” painted on walls and buildings around Poland, which celebrate historical figures from World War II fighters to Pope John Paul II.

Photographer Wojciech Wilczyk toured the country in search of the murals.

Over the course of his travels, he photographed over 500 murals of this kind for his project “Słownik polsko-polski” (Polish-Polish dictionary).

The idea for the project was sparked by a mural that Wilczyk first photographed in 2013 featuring Pope John Paul II and Emil Fieldorf, the Polish World War II hero.Wojciech Wilczyk

Born in Kraków in 1961, Wilczyk is also a poet and author of art criticism.

After studying Polish at the city’s Jagiellonian University, he started working as a photographer in 1988.

Over the course of his travels, he photographed over 500 murals of this kind for his project “Słownik polsko-polski” (Polish-Polish dictionary).Wojciech Wilczyk

Since then, he has become known for his photography projects, exhibitions and books, which include poetry.

The idea for the project was sparked by a mural that Wilczyk first photographed in 2013.

Painted on the wall of a primary school on Aleja Kijowska in Kraków, it features two pictures side by side: one of Pope John Paul II on the left and one of Emil Fieldorf, the Polish World War II hero who went by the nom de guerre “Nil” on the right.

Struck by the number of images, which came from all around Poland, Wilczyk decided to document the murals with his camera.Wojciech Wilczyk

“Looking at the developed image on my computer screen, without thinking too much, I typed the words ‘patriotic mural’ into Google's search engine and, after clicking the images tab, dozens of miniatures showing paintings in national colours appeared, in which soldiers, partisans or politicians, almost exclusively men, were more or less successfully depicted,” Wilczyk told Noizz.pl explaining how his project began.

According to the publishing house, Karakter, Wilczyk reflects on the extent to which the murals’ “creators are conscious of the real history of the soldiers they are painting, the extent to which they understand the symbolism that they are using”.Wojciech Wilczyk

Struck by the number of images, which came from all around Poland, Wilczyk decided to document the murals with his camera.

Using Google, which led him to the websites of football fans, foundations and local newspapers, he managed to find out the murals’ addresses and visit them.

Using Google, which led him to the websites of football fans, foundations and local newspapers, he managed to find out the murals’ addresses and visit them.Wojciech Wilczyk

On a mural along the AK route in Warsaw is a prisoner in a cell who is interrogated simultaneously by a Gestapo officer and an NKVD officer creating an allegory of “two totalitarianisms”.Wojciech Wilczyk

Over the course of his travels, he photographed over 500 murals of this kind for his project “Słownik polsko-polski” (Polish-Polish dictionary).Wojciech Wilczyk

Twenty-six of Wilczyk’s photographs of the murals can also be viewed at the National Art Gallery in Sopot, on Poland’s Baltic coast.Wojciech Wilczyk

The results of Wilczyk’s work will be published in a 512-page book entitled “Słownik polsko-polski”, which will be available in Polish from 25 November.

According to the publishing house, Karakter, the photographer reflects on the extent to which the murals’ “creators are conscious of the real history of the soldiers they are painting, the extent to which they understand the symbolism that they are using”.

Twenty-six of Wilczyk’s photographs of the murals can also be viewed at the National Art Gallery in Sopot, on Poland’s Baltic coast.

The exhibition will run until 15 December.