Zygmund Jankowski

Zygmund Jankowski was a dedicated and innovative painter, a colorful and generous personality, and a loved and respected teacher. His paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and he has become one of the most important artists of his time on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, influential both as a painter and as the colleague and teacher of a generation of artists.

He was born into a Catholic family in South Bend, Indiana, where he raised a family and earned a living as a commercial illustrator. He began to summer on Cape Ann in 1964 and by the late 1970s had moved permanently to Gloucester, where he devoted the rest of his life to his art.

During his career, Jankowski explored a variety of styles. In the mature work, he is best described as a colorist and expressionist who paints traditional subjects with exuberant irreverence for traditional colors, compositions, and perspectives.

He disparaged imitation and delighted in breaking the so-called rules of art — not in rebellion, but from a deep understanding that perceived their limitations. He cultivated an intuitive, uninhibited painting process which allowed him to transcend conventions without rejecting them. He worked in series, painting the same subject up to twenty times in a day. “I could do the same subject a thousand times,” he said. “Each time I try it, there’s something different in me that responds.”

He neither planned nor sketched his paintings, but romanced each one anew, often to music, dancing with it, lunging at it, stroking it. While painting, he said, “you stand as a referee between the scene, your emotions, and the [painting], juggling emotion and logic, intuition and analysis.” He said his brush was a musical instrument; or he called painting foreplay and a painting the child of an artist and his subject. “For Zyg,” says a friend, “art was life, and life was art.”

Having artistic talent, he said, entails an obligation to get to work, and the choice to be an artist was a serious responsibility to a journey of self-discovery, seeking the mystery within oneself as well as within the subject. “Stay up late and do some work,” he exhorted artists. “Grab at life! Work as if five hundred years wouldn’t be enough to do all you want to do.” With tireless commitment to his art, Jankowski expressed his playfulness and wit, his generosity of spirit, and his exuberance for life in the vivid and unexpected colors and compositions of his paintings.

In Jankowski’s thoughtfully spontaneous process, one can discern a happy marriage of Catholic mysticism and obligation with the principles of Zen calligraphy, in which a few unpremeditated brushstrokes embody years of devoted study and practice. “If I’ve lost some of my religion,” he said tellingly, “my art has become all that much more important.”

— Matthew Swift

Remembering Zyg
May 10, 2014 · 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Four speakers share memories and reflections on the life and art of artist Zygmund Jankowski.
Past Solo Exhibitions with Matthew Swift Gallery
Zygmund Jankowski: Spring Flowers
March 31, 2018April 29, 2018
An exhibition of studio views, still lifes, and flower paintings in watercolor and oil by Zygmund Jankowski, featuring significant paintings which have until recently been in private collections, and paintings from the artist’s estate which have not been shown before.
Zygmund Jankowski: Unscripted
September 10, 2016October 23, 2016
Exceptional examples of Zygmund Jankowski’s landscapes, seascapes, farmscapes, jazz, florals, still lifes, self-portraits, and biplanes.
Zygmund Jankowski: A Celebration of Life
April 25, 2014May 26, 2014
An exhibition of exceptional and historically important oil and watercolor paintings from the estate of Zgmund Jankowski (1925–2009).
Past Group Exhibitions with Matthew Swift Gallery
Up to Eleven
May 5, 2023June 19, 2023
A group exhibition celebrating the commencement of the Gallery's 11th year and the formal reopening of its Main Street location after a pause of several months.
Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary 2023
March 23, 2023 · 5:00 pmMarch 26, 2023 · 6:00 pm
Matthew Swift Gallery will be exhibiting at the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary art fair in West Palm Beach, Florida.
December 1, 2022January 16, 2023
An evolution from the previous Right Here on Paper, bringing in art showing trees and flowers or otherwise suggesting growth.
Right Here Not on Paper
August 13, 2022September 5, 2022
Right Here Not on Paper is a companion exhibition to Right Here on Paper on view in the Vault Room showing works not on paper depicting Gloucester MA and environs.
Right Here on Paper: Gloucester MA and environs
August 6, 2022November 30, 2022
An exhibition of works on paper depicting Gloucester, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas.
Explicit Color
July 1, 2022August 1, 2022
An exhibition of paintings and sculpture with explicit color: most titles name a color.
November 13, 2021January 31, 2022
A group exhibition of abstract art.
Still Figuring It Out: Human Figures and ?
June 24, 2021August 2, 2021
A group exhibition of art representing the human figure.
A Closer Look at Still Lifes
March 6, 2021June 21, 2021
A group exhibition exploring the diversity of the tradition of still lifes.
September 5, 2020October 4, 2020
An exhibition for a time of danger and transitions.
Art Palm Beach 2020
January 30, 2020February 3, 2020
Matthew Swift Gallery will show work by gallery artists and a special exhibition of work by Erma Wheeler at Art Palm Beach.
November 23, 2019February 29, 2020
An exhibition which invites you to take a closer look while approaching and beginning the year 2020.
New Series Two
October 10, 2019November 18, 2019
Signature works of art by gallery and guest artists, in harmonious groupings, but without an express theme.
New Series One
August 10, 2019October 7, 2019
The gallery introduces a new name, Matthew Swift Gallery, and a new exhibition format: a group exhibition of individual treasures.
Philadelphia Fine Art Fair 2019
April 4, 2019April 7, 2019
Trident Gallery will show work by Peter Lyons, Zygmund Jankowski, and Ruth Mordecai in Booth 134 at the 2019 Philadelphia Fine Art Fair.
SCOPE New York 2019
March 7, 2019March 10, 2019
Trident Gallery will show work by Peter Lyons, Nadine Boughton, and Zygmund Jankowski at the 2019 SCOPE New York art fair.
Facing Five Years
January 17, 2019March 31, 2019
A program of exhibitions and events revisiting Trident Gallery’s first half-decade years and assaying the next.
In With The New
January 26, 2018March 25, 2018
An exhibition of new, unseen, and selected works of art by represented artists.
Boston International Fine Art Show, 2017
October 19, 2017October 22, 2017
Trident Gallery showed work by Peter Lyons, Winston Boyer, and Zygmund Jankowski in Booth 17 at the 2017 Boston International Fine Art Show.
AD20/21 2017
April 6, 2017April 9, 2017
Trident Gallery showed works on paper by Pamela Ellis Hawkes, Zygmund Jankowski, Ruth Mordecai, Diane Ayott, and Susan Erony at the 2016 AD20/21 art fair.
A Time for Blue
January 20, 2017March 26, 2017
A themed exhibition of art selected by Director Matthew Swift.
In the Time We Have
March 12, 2016April 24, 2016
An exhibition of new and selected works of art reflecting themes of time, ephemerality, and maturity.
Beyond Real: Contemporary Landscapes
August 15, 2015September 13, 2015
A group exhibition offering more than fifty paintings, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works in the genre of landscape, chosen to represent a diversity of artistic approaches.
AD20/21 2015
March 26, 2015March 29, 2015
Trident Gallery showed works on paper by eight represented artists at the 2015 AD20/21 art fair.
Spring Improvisations
March 20, 2015May 31, 2015
During Spring Improvisations, special offerings and recent work by gallery artists will be on display and may change frequently and improvisationally. Stop into the gallery regularly to see new work and tell the Director what you’d like to see next.
Boston International Fine Art Show, 2014
November 13, 2014November 16, 2014
Trident Gallery showed works by gallery artists at the Boston International Fine Art Show in 2014.
Harbortown 2014
July 3, 2014July 27, 2014
An exhibition celebrating Gloucester Harbor and the area’s legacy of more than 150 years of excellence in the visual arts, displaying works of art by eighteen Cape Ann artists, including four guest artists, and introducing Gloucester artist Ed Touchette, now represented by Trident Gallery.
Walls of Plenty
November 29, 2013January 5, 2014
A cornucopia of art to feed the soul.
Home: The Inaugural Exhibition
August 30, 2013October 14, 2013
Trident Gallery's inaugural exhibition shows the work of twelve artists representing the excellence and variety of contemporary fine art on Cape Ann. Gallery Director Dr. Matthew Swift has assembled 39 works of art that explore ideas of “home.”