The World of Master Józef Wilkoń in Bologna

On Tuesday, as part of the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, the eminent illustrator Józef Wilkoń spoke to the excellent book designer and illustrator Grażka Lange. The topic of the discussion was not only the magical world of the Master's illustrations, but also the international successes of Polish illustrators and their origins thereof. The Bologna Fair is the most important and prestigious event of its kind in the world. Polish illustrators and authors have been triumphing there for years.

At the very beginning of the meeting, Józef Wilkoń reminded us that there was a time when, after the fall of communism, the Polish children's book market was dominated by third-rate Western publications. However, the Master emphasised that today, Polish children's books are doing very well, which is largely due to a few outstanding female publishers. The re-emergence of children's literature is inextricably linked - as Grażka Lange has noted - to the emergence of small publishing houses, known as 'Liliputian', which are run by women without exception. In Bologna, prizes have been awarded to the Wytwórnia and Dwie Siostry publishing houses, among others.

Lange also noted that nowadays, it is mainly book concepts, titles that combine different languages of illustrated books and different types of narration, that are brilliantly designed and meticulously put together, that win awards. ”Didacticism in the good sense of the word reigns supreme," noted Józef Wilkoń, but this is not cheap didactics, these are books for both children and parents, offering a wealth of a certain vision of the world. “The roots of today's success of Polish authors and illustrators lie in the Polish School of Illustration of the 1960s and 1970s," said both speakers in agreement, emphasising the role of the great poster designer and educationalist Henryk Tomaszewski, as well as Polish painting.

After an analysis of Józef Wilkoń's works, Grażka Lange touched upon the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna itself and the role of this event in the circulation of children's books, while the Master talked about his memories connected with the fair.

Grażka Lange also noted the Book Institute's enormous contribution to the promotion of Polish literature abroad.

We would like to invite you to watch the conversation: