Present in the Upper Room | Piotr Barszczowski

Engage Art | Artist to Artist, Faith | February 27, 2023

A New Perspective on the Last Supper

For years, I have studied various depictions of the Last Supper. Most of them are horizontal rectangles with one long table. I dreamed of a new composition, a new solution where the viewer takes the position of the Holy Spirit.

This graphic shows what I saw in my dream.

Layers of Meaning

From the beginning, I planned to set the scene in the present—at that time, 2021. I began to overlay meaningful geometry on the composition concept—the Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Sequence, anamorphic projection (where to see the “correct” view, the viewer must look at it from a specific acute angle), a platonic dodecahedron as the source of light, dynamic triangles, and more. I also started to work through the various somewhat hidden treats for the insightful viewer: a complicated labyrinth telling a story, multiple symbols, and a few Latin phrases, among others.

Planning for the Passover

Before the complex and extensive photo session to stage the “Last Supper XXI,” I met with all the models to familiarize them with how I hoped to cluster people around the tables in the Upper Room. We used a maquette with art school mannequins and lights to help explain it. We assigned preliminary roles and places for each person, thinking through who would be at each of the six tables that form the cross. Some of the 26 models were my students. They applied to be included, but I admit that I have seen them in my mind in the roles of contemporary Apostles and disciples of Jesus.

Photo Session in the Upper Room

We all gathered on the evening of Holy Thursday at Gemini Park, a large shopping mall in Tarnów, the city in southern Poland where I work and teach. We started working when the mall closed at 9 pm and finished at about 3 am. Ultimately, several hundred photos were created with wide-angle, fisheye, and telephoto lenses.

Three Months of Technical Work

At the end of this photography process, I could create a vector drawing of the scene, with all its photographed and imagined people and objects. I worked on the sketch at scale at the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec from December 2019 to February 2020. The final vector drawing included 2,021 vector-based shapes. In the technique I created called New Stained Glass, each of those shapes is filled individually with a portion of a macro- or microphotograph so that the resulting collaged image appears realistic.

Mixing a New Kind of Paint for New Stained Glass

My next step was to create the “paint”—macro- or microphotography. Because every part of this artwork is meaningful, I used the materials of that first Last Supper: bread and wine. Here are some examples of macro and micro photography of bread and wine, of which the Last Supper XXI is composed. The fragments of photos go inside the vectors as a digital collage.

The Last Supper—Luke 22:7-13

Last Supper XXI by Piotr Barszczowski

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Piotr Barszczowski is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Applied Sciences in Tarnow (UAS Tarnow) as well as the founder and president of the Pegasus Art Foundation. Born in 1972 in Tarnow, Poland, Piotr is a Doctor of Arts, visual artist and photographer, visual communication designer, theologian, and educator. He graduated from two Kraków universities: The Academy of Fine Arts and The Pontifical University of John Paul II. He specialized in the field of visual communication and the history of sacred art. He has created the branding for more than 500 companies. Piotr is a member of The Association of Polish Art Photographers and a member of The Association of Polish Artists and Designers. 

The Last Supper XXI won first place in the 2022 Engage Art Contest’s Visual Arts category, and it also won 1st place in the Florence Biennale in the “New Media Arts” division.

See more of Piotr’s work on his website (, Facebook ( or Instagram (

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