Leon Podsiadły, „Bel Air”

We present a catalog and an exhibition commemorating the work of the great artist – mentor of Wrocław’s sculpture – Leon Podsiadły

Leon Podsiadły, friend

Professor Leon Podsiadły was a regular guest of the SURVIVAL Art Review. We met during one of the first editions, and we saw each other for the last time during this year’s festival organised at the City Port Pumping Station in Wrocław. However, it was in the summer of 2016, when I was getting ready to go to Guinea, that our paths crossed for good. We were brought together by mutual friendship and a longing for Africa. Professor Podsiadły is one of the links connecting Wrocław and Conakry, the capital of Guinea. Just like Arkady Fiedler, Stanisław Lenartowicz, Teresa Tuszyńska, Zbyszek Cybulski, Ewa Szumańska… We spent many hours remembering His Africa.

We talked about happy times at school, Fiedler’s unsuccessful book, the shooting of the film Full Ahead with Zbigniew Cybulski, in which the actor climbed a palm tree and almost died trying to get down. It was Podsiadły who for the first time described to me the bizarre “friendly” help offered to Guinea by countries of the Socialist Bloc, which resulted in a field of toilet bowls that had never been used or a host of snowploughs, completely unnecessary on African soil. Later I found the same memory in Ewa Szumańska’s book Bizary. He also told me over a cup of tea about how the then Minister of Culture of Guinea sent him to Paris to purchase the tools he needed for his creative and teaching work, which also resulted in a new car! Having shared this story, he would move on to remember his solo trip into the Guinean interior, when he travelled in the French car to visit the home of one of his students. He would insist that during the trip, he had to cross a river by driving on palm tree trunks laid especially for him! I loved these stories and these priceless moments. It soon became clear that the journey I had been planning would follow in Leon’s footsteps. Thanks to his stories and my own persistence, I managed to find many places where the Polish community in Guinea lived in the 1960s. The presence of the Podsiadły family during some of the most important events in Guinea’s recent history was remembered by a wonderful man and great scientist whom I met in 2016 – professor Djibril Tamsir Niane, co-organiser (together with professors Władysław Filipowiak and Bogusław Szerniewicz) of archaeological expeditions in search of the capital of the Mali empire in 1962, 1964–1965, 1967–1968, 1973–1974, 1978. Scientists participating in the excavations greatly appreciated the painting skills of Feliks Podsiadły, Leon’s brother. Generally, many people still remembered the presence of Poles in Guinea. During a meeting with one of Guinea’s former prime ministers we talked about Polish doctors, scientists, people of culture and teachers. My goal was to find the school where professor Podsiadły taught sculpture. The visit to the National Museum in Conakry did little to help. I was told that the school had been relocated outside Conakry many years before, and most of Leon’s students were no longer alive – after all, almost fifty years had passed, and life in Guinea can be tough for old people. It was only on the last day of my stay that I managed to reach the Sainte Marie School, where only the bare walls, beaches and beautiful old trees remember Leon’s lessons.


For these and many other reasons, in 2017 we prepared an exhibition of Leon Podsiadły’s works inspired by his stay in Guinea. The presentation at the Mieszkanie Gepperta gallery featured his sculptures and assemblages as well as original Guinean sculptures, which, as the professor explained, can no longer be found in Africa. For a few weeks, we also exhibited some of the family heirlooms from that period that proved that Leon was not only a great sculptor, but also an outstanding photographer!

There are still many hours of interviews with Leon waiting to be edited, in which he tells me about post-war Wrocław, his escape to France, how his passport was confiscated and, of course, his time in West Africa during the decolonisation period. 

I am now looking at the photos from my African trip and one of them shows a poster explaining how to behave during the Ebola epidemic, which was plaguing Guinea at that time. Little did I known when taking the picture that another epidemic would reach Poland and take away my dear friend. Another chapter is now closed. What is left is stories and Leon Podsiadły’s impressive oeuvre. The catalogue that we present to you today is a testimony to what he called the wonder years in his life, and for me – a tribute to my friend.

Karolina Bieniek

Leon Podsiadły was a sculptor, draftsman, teacher, traveller, professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. Born in France in 1932, he moved to Poland in 1947. In 1965–1970 he lived in Guinea, where he worked as a teacher. His most well-known works include the monument of Nicolaus Copernicus in Wrocław, the monuments to the murdered prisoners of the Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp (in Wrocław, Wichrów, Piotrowice), tombstones of pilot Bolesław Orliński and poet Tymoteusz Karpowicz.





edition: 300
availability: included in the shipping costs (while stock lasts), please contact fundacja@arttransparent.org

SZEWSKA consists of nine double-sided display windows located on Szewska Street (the section between Kotlarska and Nożownicza streets).

The gallery shows an average of eight exhibitions per year, both original ones and prepared in cooperation with external entities.

The Szewska Pasja Street Gallery was established in 2010. Since 2011, the project has been co-financed by the Municipality of Wrocław. The gallery was founded by Julia Janowska. In the first year of its functioning, it was curated by Ewa Kaszewska, and in 2011–2020 by Tomasz Broda. In 2021, the gallery was taken over by the Art Transparent Foundation.

The mission of the gallery under the curatorship of the Art Transparent Foundation is to present and popularise the most interesting phenomena in young Polish contemporary art while drawing on the traditions of the local avant-garde. This is why exhibitions featuring the works and profiles of the youngest artists are intertwined with presentations of the achievements of doyens associated with the former State Higher School of Fine Arts (now – Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław), the Wrocław Group and the Wrocław ‘70 Visual Arts Symposium.

SZEWSKA is closely associated with another important exhibition and educational project of the Art Transparent Foundation – the Mieszkanie Gepperta contemporary art gallery.

Project co-financed by the Department of Culture of the Wrocław City Hall.

We sincerely thanks all the people and institutions that made it possible to prepare this catalog:

  • Miasto Wrocław
  • Jacek Sutryk — Prezydent Wrocławia
  • Bartłomiej Świerczewski — dyrektor Departamentu Spraw Społecznych Urzędu Miejskiego
  • Jerzy Pietraszek — Dyrektor Wydziału Kultury Urzędu Miejskiego
  • prof. Wojciech Pukocz — Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Eugeniusza Gepperta we Wrocławiu

We would like to thank our partners and associates, especially Magda Podsiadły.

Project co-financed by the Department of Culture of the Wrocław City Hall.


Galeria Szewska
Szewska 27, 50-139 Wrocław

opening hours: round the clock


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Leon PodsiadłyBel Air

edition: 300

availability: included in the shipping costs (while stock lasts), please contact fundacja@arttransparent.org


exhibition and catalog design: Grupa Projektor (Joanna Jopkiewicz, Paweł Borkowski)