Kristof Wrobel, Tarrytown Painter, Sculptor, Master Restorer

To the many who have come to know him over his twenty plus years as a resident and business owner in Tarrytown, Kristof Wrobel is a highly skilled and sought after contractor with a keen eye for detail, color and space.

His ability to redesign and upgrade aging living space and infrastructure has been his trademark and the cornerstone of his flourishing construction business, ARTCHRIS. There is, however, another Kristof Wrobel who is less well known. Kris is also an accomplished painter, sculptor and restorer classically trained and educated in his native Poland. Truly a "renaissance man," his work has been critically and photographically juxtaposed with that of Rembrandt, Rodin and Renoir.

Born in Wojnicz, Poland in 1953, the year of Joseph Stalin’s death, Kris’s journey to artistic success and recognition has been both a personal and cultural odyssey heavily influenced by the politics of the environment he grew up in.

He first came to public attention in his native country as an artisan/craftsman much sought after as a restorer of church architecture. His formal training was at the highly regarded "School of Fine Arts and Design" in Sedziszow and at the College of Arts and Metalwork in Warsaw. He quickly gained both recognition and commissions as a restorer of old buildings and was made a head master in restoring the famous Wawel and Cloth Hall in Krakow.

"I enjoyed the job very much and it was very interesting and challenging as well, but I was young, eager to improve my skills and to try something new and to travel to different places." He returned to Wojnicz and opened his first studio, a building rented from an old woman who was eager to support his artistic endeavor. "When, in 1978, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) was elevated to the Papacy, I was inspired to render a portrait of this national and now international figure. I did so, and placed the painting outside my studio entrance to dry. A wealthy local resident passing by saw it and immediately offered to purchase it. He returned a few days later to purchase another piece." Parenthetically, Wrobel also created a bas relief metal sculpture of the newly elected Pope using a brass fruit plate which he fashioned into a remarkable likeness of the former Polish cardinal.

Wrobel was developing a national reputation as a master of church restoration. He was also asked to restore a miniature statue of the Pope which was brought to Rome by a group of Polish clergymen on a pilgrimage to Rome. Today, the work is part of the Vatican Museum’s collection.

Frustrated in his desire to expand his working space after purchasing an historic building, known as the "Forge" by a hostile government official jealous of his success, Wrobel reluctantly decided to leave Poland. In 1981, he immigrated to the United States to pursue his artistic endeavors under the tutelage of the renowned art historian and scholar, Professor Raymond Brenien. Inspired by his "old world" experiences and background, he continued to complete commissioned works in a variety of media for churches, cathedrals and civic and municipal centers.

His "Head of Jesus Christ" was selected for exhibition as part of a Fifty Year Jubilee Celebration of the Societ?© Internationale des Artistes Christiens presented in Dudelange, Luxembourg. He, in much the same way as one of his artistic role models, Rembrandt, developed a fascination with depicting Old Testament stories and has had pieces that were thus inspired exhibited at the Jewish Museum in New York City.

Wrobel was deeply affected by the tragic events of 9/11. Within in a matter of days after the event, he created a wood sculpture memorializing the reality of that day. That work received critical acclaim in a number of Westchester publications and is presently on display outside his Tarrytown studio. Examples of his creativity in a variety of art forms can be viewed on his web site: http://kristofwrobel.com.

Familiar local landmarks have become the subject matter for some of the post-impressionist oil paintings that he has recently completed. Renderings of Lyndhurst, Marymount, Van Cortlandt Manor and the river from Kingsland Point Park are reflections of that inspiration. Wrobel continues to create in a variety of media as well as engaging in several challenging restoration activities in the New York metropolitan area. Most recently he was responsible for fresco restorations at St. Joseph of Arimathea Episcopal Church in Elmsford, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Irvington and Rock of Salvation Pentecostal Church in Tarrytown, as well as on the Tarrytown campus of Marymount College. His proposal for a commemorative "fluid metal sculpture" of the late Pope John Paul II is presently being considered by the Polish government. He looks forward to sharing the "other" Kristof Wrobel with his fellow Tarrytowners in his newly opened studio located in the Carrollwood Condominiums clubhouse (the complex is located off Route 119). His work is shown by appointment only (914) 843-8728).

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About the Author: Lawrence Mayer