International Biennial Pastel Exhibition
The Nowy Sącz Pastel Painting Competition was established over 30 years ago (in 1987) to celebrate and promote one of the oldest painting techniques. The first editions of the competition were directed to artists living in Poland. However, the steadily growing artistic level and huge popularity of the contest in artistic circles enabled its organizers to transform this nationwide contest into International Pastel Biennial in 2002.
In 2012, the project entitled "European Pastel Festival - Małopolska" was implemented for the first time, consisting of: a historical exhibition presenting outstanding Polish painters from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (Wojciech Weiss, Stanisław Wyspiański, Leon Wyczółkowski, Witkacy), an exhibition presenting the Polish contemporary pastel paintings from the collection of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz, an exhibition of Marek Andała’s works, Grand Prix 2010 laureate, an open-air post-exhibition Nowy Sącz 2013, an open-air painting event and a debate on pastel techniques. The most important event in the project was the 6th International Pastel Biennial – Nowy Sącz 2013. The post-competition exhibition was presented in Nowy Sącz, Kraków, Trencin in Slovakia and in Lviv. The aim of the project, co-financed by European Union funds, was to present the historical background and the current output of this painting technique and also to create opportunities for cooperation among artists from various cultural circles and for joint search for the direction in which the Nowy Sącz competition should develop. The project lasted three years (2012–2014) and was co-financed by European Union funds within the Małopolska Regional Operational Program for 2007–2013.
Since the beginning of the Pastel Biennial, there have been numerous post-competition exhibitions in art galleries in Poland and abroad (Warsaw, Kraków, Szczecin, Poznań, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, Kołobrzeg, Wałbrzych, Olsztyn, Toruń, Częstochowa, Kielce, Włocławek, Lviv, Bratislava, Dolný Kubin and Trencin in Slovakia, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Baia Mare in Romania, Vejle in Denmark).
So far, the Biennial exhibitions have welcomed representatives from dozens of European countries as well as from Israel, Turkey, the USA, Canada, Thailand, Japan, Mauritius and Colombia.
On the initiative of the organizers, the District Museum in Nowy Sącz is assembling the Collection of Contemporary Polish Pastel Paintings.
The laureates and participants in the post-competition exhibitions established the Polish Pastel Artists’ Association in 1995.
The Nowy Sącz Biennial owes its development to many people, institutions and associations from Poland and abroad. Here, one should emphasize the role of Royal Talens – a Dutch company that produces Rembrandt dry pastels and Sakura Color Products Corporations – the Japanese manufacturer of Cray-Pas oil pastels.
From the very beginning, however, the project has been given the most important support by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Municipal Office of Nowy Sącz, and after the administrative reforms of 1999, by the Marshal’s Office of the Małopolska Province. The whole event enjoys the prestige given to it by the patronage of Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts from Kraków and the Association of Polish Artists and Designers.