Jacek Yerka (born 1952) is a Polish surreal painter from Torun.
Jacek Yerka studied art for a short time at University (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, where he learned printmaking), but then learnt from direct study of Northern European masters: Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Hugo van der Goes and Jan van Eyck were his powerful, early influences.
Yerka did his first painting of his life a year before going to college, where he began studying graphics. His instructors always tried to get him to paint in the more contemporary abstract style, and move away from his fascination with realism. He saw this as an attempt to stifle his own creative style and stubbornly continued to work in the classic, meticulous Flemish style he still favors to this day. In the end, it was his teachers who eventually relented, finally recognizing their determined student as a brilliant (although troubling) talent.
Yerka's carefully rendered paintings (acrylics on canvas) are filled with images from the artist's childhood, one heavily influenced by the surroundings of his home during the 1950's, and his grandmother's kitchen, wherein he spent much of his time.
"For me, the 1950's were a kind of Golden Age. These were the happy years of my childhood, filled with wonder at the world around me. It is reflected throughout my work in buildings, furniture, and various pre-war knickknacks. If I were, for instance, to paint a computer, it would definitely have a pre-war aesthetic to it."
The pastoral atmosphere of the Polish countryside provides a solid, mimetic foundation for much of Yerka's art. However, it is his own uniquely evocative dreams that limn the complex, often arcane imagery of his work.
One need only glance at the luminous surfaces of Yerka's canvases to perceive his adoration of, resonance with, the master painters of the 15th and 16th centuries, key factors in the development of this surrealist Cagliostro.
Basing on precise painting techniques, taking pattern from former masters like Jan van Eyck or Hieronymus Bosch but mainly on his unlimited imagination he creates surrealistic compositions, particularly admired by enthusiasts of sci-fi in all varieties.
Jacek Yerka inspired the fantasy writer Harlon Ellison to write 30 short stories which along with Yerka’s pictures constituted the publication entitled MIND FIELDS. The same American publisher Morpheus International released the album THE FANTASTIC ART OF JACEK YERKA.
In 1995 the artist was awarded the prestigious World Fantasy Award for Best Artist. He exhibits in Poland and abroad (in Germany, France and USA among others), being an esteemed representative of the science fiction stream of art. His paintings have recently inspired film makers.
Today, Jacek Yerka works and resides, with his family, in a rural enclave of his native Poland.