by Rick Winterson
“The Partisans”, by Polish artist Andrzej Pitynski, is a striking quintet of mounted soldiers, an aluminum sculpture cast with a modern, impressionistic treatment – figurative in a way, but not fully so. It measures 33 feet long and 17 feet high, to the tips of the soldiers’ weapons.
The five ghostly horsemen, who are carrying muskets that could also be lances, are exhausted, as mortally tired as the horses they ride upon. “The Partisans” depict so-called “cursed soldiers” – freedom fighters who fought against the Soviet Communist takeover of Poland in 1945, which trapped that nation behind the Iron Curtain for more than four decades. Sculptor Andrzej Pitynski has dedicated his magnificent work of art to “freedom fighters anywhere in the World”.
“The Partisans”, now forty years old, has had quite a journey. It was first set on Charles Street, just inside the Boston Common. Late in 2005, the Beacon Hill/Back Bay crowd decided that “The Partisans” did not fit the pre-Civil War ambience of the Common (apparently, it didn’t fit themselves, either). Claiming that “it had no pedestal”, they had the sculpture struck and stored in a warehouse, cutting the lances/rifles to make it fit. A justifiably outraged Polish-American community, aided by South Boston residents and the media, loudly protested, so “The Partisans” was relocated to the uppermost level of the World Trade Center Silver Line Station.
That isolated way, although high up and visible from afar, was not really suitable. On Sunday, November 17, “The Partisans”, after being relocated to Massport’s Waterfront Park on the northern end of D Street at Congress last June, was formally rededicated and officially welcomed to its new, permanent location (donated by Massport). This location is ideal for any and all South Boston residents to view a remarkable work of art. In addition, this is also a highly suitable year for such a move. Poland, along with much of the Western World, is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I hostilities in November, 1918. Not only did the Polish folk see an end to combat, they were liberated from Germany, who had invaded them in 1914.
The Rededication was emceed by John Pranckevicius, Massport’s Acting CEO (Tom Glynn has decided to retire). A blessing asking for “Peace Forever” was called down and Andrzej Pitynski, who had flown in from Poland, spoke inspirationally. Comments were offered by Rep.-elect David Biele, Sen. Nick Collins (with his new daughter), Councilors-at-Large Michael Flaherty and Annissa Essabai-George, Councilor Ed Flynn, and the Hon. Ray Flynn. The Polish Anthem was sung by the color guard and Polish-Americans present; Rededication wreaths were then emplaced at the foot of “The Partisans”.
Words can’t truly describe “The Partisans”. Be sure to see it the next time you go to the Waterfront.