My 1987 trip to Israel was a breakthrough in terms of my artistic work. It marked a fundamental hange both in my awareness and in my life. I went to Israel following an invitation from my father’s
- Szlomo Janklewicz’s - relative Mosze Oriana. Mosze had searched for me in Poland and once he found me, he extended his invitation, right before the political transformation happened in Poland. It
was then still very difficult to obtain a passport, and the Security Services did not make it any easier, especially since I had been an activist working for an independent civil society organization. I had to re-apply many times, but once finally I was granted the passport, I flew to Israel. I had no idea what
awaited me there, I was completely unaware of my own roots, their meaning and the Jewish tradition. It came as a shock, on many different levels. The sunlight there was different, the
encounters with people were extraordinary, and my awareness and religious approach, shaped by my childhood in the communist Poland, has been utterly transformed. I have experienced a 180-degree
turn in my perception of the world – just as Tadeusz Konwicki predicted when he had visited us before my journey. The journey also caused a radical shift in my thinking – I begun to discover the meaning of my identity, rooted in my Jewish background. I was gradually becoming aware of its significance. The fact was that in Israel I was able to start painting again, after many years during
which I focused on activism within the Independent Culture movement – my stay there unblocked the first cycle of paintings that emerged following a very long break, and which I entitled Through
Holy Land to Promised Land, to be first presented in Wrocław. It was the moment of the Round Table negotiations. I later presented these paintings in Jerusalem, in Beit Haomanim – Artists’ House. One of the visitors to the exhibition asked me:
“Since you come from Poland, why there is nothing about Holocaust in these paintings?” I was tormented by this question and the answer has been coming in pieces such as … and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one. It was painful for me to discover that Poles do not feel the significance of remembering those
millions of Polish Jews who had been killed during the Second World War, to remember the following post-war waves of Jewish migrants fleeing Poland, where they no longer felt welcome.
There is still pain in the realization that we do not even notice the absence of Jews within the Polish society. I myself started to feel this indifference towards the absence of Jews in Poland more acutely.
I thought that all I had to do was to start talking about it, for us to be able to sit together at an invisible table and raise a toast to health and lechaim – to life. Let Us Not Wait, Let Us Sit at the Table – was the title of one of the paintings in this series. They were first exhibited in the Wrocław’s City Hall, then in New York, and finally in the exposition space at Gardzienice Theatre, where I initiated a joint-table meeting under the title "The Taste of Sabbath".