Prime Minister bids farewell to acclaimed primitivist painter

Erwin Sówka, a miner, but first and foremost an outstanding painter-primitivist and a member of the Janowska Group, was laid to rest on Monday. His funeral was attended by, among others, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The artist died on Thursday at the age of 84. He was laid to rest on Monday at the parish cemetery in Katowice-Janów.

"There are people who become a legend already during their lifetime - such a man was Erwin Sówka", said the Polish PM during the funeral mass at the church of St. Anna.

He recalled that the deceased artist was a member of the Janowska Group, uniting non-professional painters.

"Sówka and other members of this circle did not graduate from art schools, but they learned art from a much more important school - a school of life, life in the difficult, tough conditions of post-war Poland," the PM stated.

"His paintings full of colours are also a testimony of the abundance of the world. We thank Erwin Sówka, we thank all those who helped him create this beautiful, deep world of art, which at the same time enriches us and shows what real life is. Honour to his memory", PM Morawiecki concluded.

Erwin Sówka was born in Katowice in 1936. In his teens, he started working in the Wieczorek mine - initially on the surface, then underground. He soon joined the group of non-professional miners-painters, founded in 1946 by Teofil Ociepka - the spiritual father of the group. The Janowska group consisted of about 30 amateur painters. The phenomenon of their paintings, inspired by, among others, occultism, was presented in the film "Angelus" by Lech Majewski.

In his works, Sówka often referred to the Old Testament and the culture and religion of the East. He often placed the characters in two spaces: material and mystical.

The paintings of Erwin Sówka form part of several collections, among others, the Silesian Museum in Katowice, the State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, the National Museum in Wrocław, as well as private Polish and foreign collections.