80 prints and illustrations by Daniel Chodowiecki from the collection of the National Museum in Gdańsk and over 30 works from Jerzy Limon's private collection will be on display from 25.05.2022 in the Main Library of the University of Gdańsk. The day before, on the anniversary of prof. Jerzy Limon's birthday, the opening of the exhibition will take place.
The bilingual (Polish and English) exhibition will consist of 80 prints and illustrations by Daniel Chodowiecki from the collection of the National Museum in Gdańsk and over 30 works from Jerzy Limon's private collection, inspired by Shakespeare.
Chodowiecki's works presented at the exhibition include a series of illustrations to Hamlet, Macbeth, King Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Coriolanus. The works from Jerzy Limon's collection include very old original prints and graphics (among others, Peter Willer's colourful print Der Stadthoff from around 1650, presenting the School of Fencing in Gdańsk); a colourful print for the play As You Like It, a print for Othello, as well as contemporary drawings, paintings and works of art by artists such as Kiejstut Bereźnicki, Andrzej Markowicz, Rafał Olbiński, Marian Kołodziej and Andrzej Taranek.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive catalogue containing texts by the organisers of the exhibition, museologists, theatrologists and Shakespeare experts, as well as a film compilation of comments by Professor Jerzy Limon, prepared based on his earlier lectures on Shakespeare.
The exhibition has been prepared thanks to the National Museum in Gdańsk and Mrs Justyna Limon, who made the collections available.
The curators of the exhibition are: Alicja Andrzejewska-Zając and Joanna Kamień.
The exhibition is part of a series of cultural and academic events 'Jerzy Limon: INSPIRATION - DIALOGUE - POLEMICS', organised by the University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre and the Theatrum Gedanense Foundation.
A catalogue of the exhibition will be available for purchase from UG Publishing House
Admission to the exhibition is free from May 25, 2022.
Tuesday - Friday: 10.00-17.00
Sunday, Monday: closed
From July 1, 2022
Tuesday - Friday: 10.00 - 115.00
Monday, Saturday, Sunday: closed
Gdańsk Speaks Shakespeare
International Theatre Day 2021 was one of deep sadness, filling us with a silence despite the many words that were said. On that day, in the Communal Cemetery in Sopot, we laid to rest Professor Jerzy Limon, founder of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre and the Department of Stage Arts (at present the Department of Stage Arts Research) at the University of Gdańsk, and, for many of us, an outstanding authority, a magnificent teacher, a colleague, and a friend. This farewell was an exceptionally hard one. It was also so because of the requirement laid on me somehow to fill the aching gap he left, to bring to our academic community, for which as Rector I felt personally responsible, something that would lift the spirits, something that would help us cope with the loss that the University had incurred, something that would show that Jerzy Limon and his work would last, that the deeply humanist idea non omnis moriar especially applied to him. Then and still today I am conscious that this, however, is a task for all of us to accomplish. It is we who must maintain the memory of the Professor, drawing on his achievements and carrying on his work. It is we who must show later generations of students who were not so fortunate as to know him, that he was not only with us for many years at the University, but that he will always be with us and that here is his place.
This place of his very own is the Theatre Hall in the Modern Languages Building of the University of Gdańsk, which since 26 May 2022 has been officially called after Jerzy Limon. I am very happy that this idea has borne fruit, and at the same time I am grateful to the University of Gdańsk academic community, especially to the Dean of the Faculty of Languages, Professor Urszula Patocka-Sigłowy, and to the Faculty Council, which fully embraced my initiative and by acclamation accepted the motion to call the Theatre Hall after Jerzy Limon. I thank, too, Justyna Limon (Jerzy Limon’s wife) for her enthusiastic agreement with this decision. I am all the more pleased since what we have done will take on yet another dimension because of the cooperation that the University of Gdańsk has agreed to with the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre and the National Museum in Gdańsk.
Professor Limon was a man of many dimensions: not only did he reconstruct an Elizabethan theatre in Gdańsk; not only did he bring Shakespeare closer to us through the performances he brought here even before the walls of the theatre were standing; not only did he translate works by Shakespeare and lecture on him and his times; but he was also a collector of graphic material related to Shakespeare. He gathered together a substantial collection of images of scenes from various Shakespeare plays. His collection includes almost fifty prints, drawings, and images by various artists of many Shakespeare plays, including prints by Daniel Chodowiecki of the Professor’s favourite play, The Tempest. This passion of Jerzy Limon’s for Shakespeare in various dimensions was the inspiration for organizing in the University of Gdańsk Main Library an exhibition entitled Echoes of Shakespeare in Gdańsk: Chodowiecki & Limon. It was possible thanks to the cooperation of the National Museum in Gdańsk and to the enthusiastic reaction on the part of its Director, Professor Jacek Friedrich, to my request. He did not hesitate to make available to us from the Museum’s collection Chodowiecki’s original illustrations, which, although reproduced in various publications, have never before been exhibited. I must add that the idea of drawing on the work of this artist was suggested to me some time ago by Professor Maciej Świeszewski, outstanding Gdańsk painter, long-term friend of Professor Limon, and also Vice-president of the Daniel Chodowiecki Foundation based in the Academy of Arts in Berlin. So we are able to show at the University of Gdańsk a unique collection of the work of the outstanding and internationally renowned Gdańsk painter and graphic artist. From the Museum’s collection, we will present in the exhibition Chodowiecki’s illustrations to Hamlet, Henry IV, Macbeth, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, in addition to a portrait of the Chodowiecki family, and piece entitled “The Muses Crowning Shakespeare’s Bust with a Wreath.”
We are supplementing this splendid range of works with selected graphic pieces from Professor Limon’s collection (made available to us by Justyna Limon). However, since the collection is so large that it deserves a separate exhibition, we have decided to choose representative works that illustrate to variety of this personal collection. Among the works on display are also old original prints and drawings, such as Peter Willer’s engraving of Der Stadthoff from around 1650, showing the Fencing School in Gdańsk, the cycle of Chodowiecki’s prints for The Tempest, , as well as modern drawings and pictures. But that is not the end. A kind of commentary to the exhibit is provided by extracts from Professor Limon’s lectures recorded by the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, which, by agreement with Agata Grenda, the Director of the Theatre, we will play in the exhibition area. Here I would also like to express my gratitude to Joanna Kamień, Director of the University of Gdańsk Press, who despite her numerous everyday duties agreed to curate this extraordinary exhibition. Her unstinting commitment to the exhibition has earned my deep admiration. Alicja Andrzejewska-Zając, curator of the exhibition delegated by the National Museum in Gdańsk, has also been involved in organizing this event. I thank her, too, most warmly.
It is significant that the Echoes of Shakespeare in Gdańsk: Chodowiecki & Limon exhibition was preceded by the Wajda: Man of Gdańsk exhibition, organized together with the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology. What one might call the closeness of these two exhibitions acquires a further resonance if we think about the central figures of the two events. Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Limon are linked by a great deal (including friendship) and have both left an enduring mark on Gdańsk. Basil Kerski, Director of the European Solidarity Centre, captured this very well when he recalled Professor Limon shortly after his death: “From the very beginning his [Limon’s] idea was recognized and warmly supported by our common friend Andrzej Wajda. If I was tempted to point to a place for Jurek among the departed great, I would look for one next to Wajda. Both were creators of art and citizens; they created their own works and at the same time a place for doing things that others could enter and feel comfortable there. They imposed nothing on anybody; they invited people into a space of creative freedom; they rejoiced in others’ achievements. They were able to combine their own artistic endeavours with providing support for others to develop their own talents. That is a very rare ability these days – these days of social narcissism.”
Recalling Professor Limon’s huge artistic commitment – for he was distinguished by an exceptional creative resource and inventiveness – we would like to celebrate him with a play prepared by the “Alternator” Academic Cultural Centre in cooperation with the University Choir, the “Jantar” Song and Dance Troupe, and student theatre groups. The play WILLIAM ON MY MIND is inspired by Shakespeare’s creative work and is meant to be a continuation of Professor Limon’s creative work. Further, on 27 May, the Andrzej Wajda Film Centre will present a film screening entitled Shakespeare on the Screen.
All these activities are coordinated with the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, and they are taking place under the shared rubric Jerzy Limon: Inspiration – Dialogue – Polemic. Originally, this name was exclusively to accompany an international academic conference organized in the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre (27–28 May) by the great Polish Shakespeare scholar Professor Jacek Kopciński. But finally, there were so many events of various kinds inspired by Professor Limon’s achievements and dedicated to his memory that the rubric Jerzy Limon: Inspiration – Dialogue – Polemic embraces both events organized by the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, the Theatrum Gedanense Foundation (which is preparing an exhibition entitled In Praise of Madness relating the story of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre) and by the University of Gdańsk and the National Museum in Gdańsk. I express my warm thanks to Agata Grenda, Director of the Theatre, and Professor Jacek Kopciński for their unflagging cooperation, enthusiasm, and openness in our common endeavour. Jerzy Limon was able to unite people around his great ideas, and I am convinced that our common efforts around matters connected with him have constituted one of the finest forms of the Professor’s powers of inspiration and of dialogue itself.
I have no doubt that in the last week of May 2022, inspired by Jerzy Limon, Gdańsk will once more speak Shakespeare, as it did in 2009 when on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, Andrzej Wajda with around one hundred actors organized on Długi Targ an unforgettable Shakespeare happening entitled “The Actors Are Come.”
Writing about this event, Professor Limon wrote that on that day “Gdańsk spoke Shakespeare.” On twenty stages set up on Długi Targ, actors performed scenes from Shakespeare. Spectators (and there were more than ten thousand of them) passed from one stage to another. Although the Professor is no longer with us physically, his words, the memory of him and his works, will be loudly spoken out and passed on not just within the walls of the University of Gdańsk and of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, but also on the streets of the city walked by guests and participants in this sui generis festival commemorating the successful cooperation of three institutions in the Three Cities.
A series of conversations entitled The Philosopher’s Helplessness is held in the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre. This series was the initiative of Professor Limon, who was not, however, able to take part in any himself. It is significant that the first part was a recollection of the Professor, who had just recently died. From the perspective of all I have set out above, it is clear that Professor Limon’s death leaves us all helpless as long as we remain with a sense of huge loss and vacuum. But if we look at what a rich legacy he has left us and if we treat this as a task and a challenge, helplessness gives way to mobilization and a willingness to act. The Professor achieved much with his extraordinary deeds, as Shakespeare’s Prospero did with his charms. The rest he left for us.
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now ’tis true
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
(William Shakespeare, The Tempest)