He lives and works in Nowy Sącz. He has presented his art at more than 85 individual shows and participated in more than 140 collecoctive exhibitions in Poland, Europe and the USA. He is a member of the Polish Pastel Artists’ Association, a member of the Union of Polish Artists and Designers and an honorary member of the Pastel Society of America, NY.
He has organised and participated in numerous plein-air meetings in Poland and abroad. He was a curator of a famous exhibition of Józef Czapski’s works held at BWA [Art Exhibition Office] in Nowy Sącz (1991) as well as shows of Nejad – a prominent Turkish abstract artist. His numerous articles on art criticism have appeared in Gazeta Krakowska, Dziennik Polski, Gazeta Wyborcza, Tygodnik Powszechny and in catalogues accompanying exhibitions. He has taught at all levels of the educational system. He was a manager of Mała Galeria [Small Gallery] in Nowy Sącz, President of Pro Art Foundation, Secretary and Vice President of the Polish Pastel Artists’ Association. His works have supported numerous charity campaigns such as “Chcę pomagać [ I Wish to Help]”, “Bliźniemu swemu [For Thy Neighbour]”, “Ziarnko gorczycy [Mustard Seed]”, “Sursum corda”, “Stowarzyszenie rodzin zastępczych [Foster Family Association]” and dozens of individual events helping people in need. His works can be found in private and public collections in Poland, USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Finland and Australia.
He has received numerous awards such as:
– 1st Prize at Pastel Biennale, 1996,
– Jerzy Madeyski Award at 4th International Biennial Pastel Exhibition, 2008,
– The Golden Frame Award 2009- The Award of The Association of Polish Artists and Designers, Nowy Sącz, Kraków- Poland
– Recognition of the Polish Minister of Culture and Art for promoting art abroad,
– 1st Prize at 5th International Biennial Pastel Exhibition, 2010,
– Award granted by the town of Saint-Aulaye at the International Pastel Biennial in France, 2012,
– 2nd Prize at London Art Biennale, 2013,
– 3rd Prize at Chianciano Biennale, 2013,
– Special Mention for Excellence at London Art Biennale, 2015,
– Award by Nowy Sącz Starost, 2016,
– The Golden Frame Award 2016- The Award of The Association of Polish Artists and Designers, Nowy Sącz, Kraków- Poland
Ryszard Miłek is a member and former vice-president of the Polish Pastel Association, a member of the Association of Polish Artists and the Honorary Member of the American Pastel Association in NY.
TOP10 of Polish Artists
Ryszard Miłek is on the list of The Best Selling Polish Artists, based on real sales of paintings in all art galleries from cities of Warsaw, Cracow, Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot, Poznan and Wroclaw.
"On first glance the works of Polish artist Richard Milek appear to be some of the most accomplished oil paintings in the contemporary canon. As a result Milek has been held to critical acclaim for many years, as the top pastellist in Poland since 1997 and vicepresident of the Polish Pastel-Drawings Artist Association. Milek has also gained international recognition, participating in over 250 exhibitions across Europe and the USA, including the 2013 London and Chianciano Biennales in which he was awarded prizes. As an artist with great success on the market, Milek’s works are held in collections in New York, Paris, Austria, Poland, and London - to name but a few - typically at around £6,000. Milek’s work ranges from graphic abstracts, to vivid cityscapes and sensuous figurative pieces, all of which are truly a feast for the eyes. However, Milek’s work contains an even deeper genius as his ‘paintings’ are actually completed using oil pastels, rather than oil paint. Milek’s work ranges from graphic abstracts, to vivid cityscapes and sensuous figurative pieces, all of which are truly a feast for the eyes.
Whilst Milek’s incredible skill in the handling of his uncommon medium produces works of the intensity and prestige of oil painting, his choice of pastel is not incidental as it allows him to create even more nuanced effects beyond the scope of even the most advanced painters. Milek’s brilliant talent for infusing his work with astounding depth, and adept handling of light comes from his technique of underlaying a soft base in black and white. This base creates the delicate tones of the work whilst not inhibiting the vibrance of the abstract colours placed on top. Thus the eye is drawn deeper to find a way through the colour to the tonal genius underneath."
- Helen McFarlane
"Richard Milek, from Poland. One of the best pastel artists in the world. A unique and stunning artist whose artworks are appreciated all over the world. Milek’s superb artistry lies in his ability to create enigmatic, abstract forms and figures with a luminous fusion of colours and a celestial depth that beckons the viewer to enter; astonishing the senses and stimulating the brain. His technique in using oil-pastel is second to none, allowing him to use chiaroscuro with masterful effect."
- Marie Gagliardi, Gagliardi Gallery in London
"I experience Ryszard Miłek’s art like I do jazz music. I can hear instruments collaborating with one another. I can hear solos: here the saxophone, there the percussion, and the double bass over there. I can see a continuous conversation among musicians - always alert and listening to one another - transformed into colours and forms. I slowly find a melodic line. Try to look at his works in such manner and you will discover a new dimension of these incredible paintings."
- Krzysztof Krauze
"Ryszard Miłek, unlike other artists who often have their favourite “safe” colour combinations, is well familiar with all the colours of the spectrum because he constantly flirts with yet another fragment of the colour palette. His works have already featured red deserts, orange rocks, dancing golden flames, malachite meadows, turquoise skies, ultramarine ice lakes and violet glows. Miłek’s compositions, partly representational partly abstract, present all pigments offered by paint and pastel manufacturers and probably all the colours existing in the world (as well as a few non-existent ones) because Miłek splits each colour of the rainbow further into 77 hues (and the wise men know that this number represents infinity).
“Catcher in the Rainbow” – that’s what I would, in a nutshell, call Ryszard Miłek, a painter whose element is colour. Colour as a substitute for a feeling because each colour configuration communicates another emotion, another mood and another “intensity of consciousness”. The medium chosen by Miłek, in my opinion, does not make this task easy. Oil pastel, as opposed to dry one, seems to be rather heavy; it is more difficult to work with and to bring out penumbras. I had thought there was no place for such finesse in oil pastel until I saw Miłek’s works. And I mean until I saw them in reality. Miłek’s works definitely lose some of their appeal when viewed in form of a printed or electronic copy, and this statement itself is a compliment in itself. Simply, the printed copy is incapable of recreating the very intensity, depth and subtlety of colour which the pastel artist can achieve by rubbing coloured sticks into a rough cardboard surface.
However, what makes Miłek stand out from among average painters labouring with their brushes is not the ingenuity of his themes but his “absolute pitch” as far as colour is concerned which enables Miłek to create surprising harmonies using familiar and trite themes, just like a jazz musician can turn a well-known jazz standard into a musical surprise by improvising. Many of his pastel works lead beyond a literally understood motif (whether bottles, fragments of city architecture or synthetic portrayals of human figures) towards contemplation of pure colour, towards very direct, almost primeval discovery of the world. The painter’s creativity in finding new hues can make one suspect that Nature has given Miłek’s retina a bigger number of colour-reacting cone cells than average human beings have. Miłek is not afraid to discover new colours and juxtapose them in risky arrangements which not only transform themselves into cacophony but also create unprecedented, sophisticated chords.
Miłek’s art has one more characteristic: his works, while preserving their colour abundance, are still paintings where colour values are important, where strong contrasts between light and shadow play an important role. How Miłek manages to combine this painter’s “fire and water” remains a mystery of his talent. He lightens up some parts of his works almost to white but this colour is never bleached but translucent. As if he put his colours through a prism “in the reverse” and recombined them into pure glitter. It is these mysterious flares, intriguing matt gleamings that make his works recognizable at first sight and constitute a particular signature of the Nowy Sącz artist.
Miłek’s art is translation from the unnameable into the unnameable, i.e., telling a story of emotions differing only in subtleties using colours which are equally difficult to define. Ryszard himself is a very friendly and warm-hearted person, therefore the emotions he expresses in his works are usually positive: joy, enthusiasm, inspiration and euphoria. He belongs to a group of artists who express their delight in the visible using affirmations in paintings. Only sometimes, as if to take a break, Miłek creates an ashen painting, a black-and-gray burned-down ground to allow viewers’ sight to rest a while following a dazzling performance. It is as if interrupting a tour around a sun-flooded city in a cool shade of a cathedral. (This is the way in which 19th century painters let viewers’ tired eyes recuperate by showing them black mirrors).
Nevertheless, under the surface of care-free frolicking in the sea of colour, Miłek’s works hide sour-bitter depths and innuendos reaching beyond light-hearted playing with paints or pastels. In particular, pastel works created recently, filled synthetically with figures presented in Bacon’s style, are permeated by a thick air of psychological dilemmas, leavings and returnings. The artist transposes situations involving two or three people into his works. Ryszard admits us here to his personal dilemmas, he leads us into a world of very intimate emotions: intimacy, misunderstanding, desire or jealousy.... Complicated relationships between the man and the woman are expressed through dismembered bodies in post-cubist style, expressive deformations, gestures, grimaces and masks. Sometimes we witness a dialogue which the artist conducts with himself, with a reflection in the mirror, with his lookalike from the past.
In his mature works Miłek has become a mystic who does not separate himself from the matter, on the contrary, by immersing himself in it, he is heading towards spiritual enlightenment. And without losing touch with ordinary life, he celebrates a painter’s feast every day."
- Marcin Kołpanowicz