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Ryszard Apte - Anxiety
Catalogue of the exhibition at the Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow.
The name of Ryszard Apte, a young Jewish artist from Kraków who perished in the Holocaust, and his works have only recently come into the public consciousness. Several years ago, Gerard Piasecki of Wieliczka, the descendent of the family with whom the Aptes lived during the war, showed a school notebook that had come into his possession to someone outside of his family for the first time. The unassuming little book was inscribed “Ryszard Apte. 1939/40” and contained about 30 drawings, including a series entitled Anxiety.
The notebook had been in the possession of the Piasecki family for decades. Ryszard, feeling that he would not survive, gave it to Mrs Piasecki. It was kept in the family’s archives
along with many old photographs, documents and other mementos. The family never showed it to anyone else, as it brought back too many painful memories: Bolesław, Gerard’s
grandfather, was killed in the same year as Ryszard Apte. For the Piaseckis, the notebook became a symbol of the pain and suffering that they wished to forget.
The Anxiety series is made up of drawings on loose sheets of paper that miraculously were not destroyed. It presents several dozen visions of death, but also is a testament to a life. Thanks to these papers, Ryszard Apte did not vanish without a trace; and through them we can see what he saw: the meeting of the everyday with the apocalypse.