Wilkinson Gallery (Lower Gallery) is pleased to present its second solo exhibition with Polish artist Marcin Maciejowski. For this exhibition, Maciejowski has developed a group of paintings that continue to deal with the social environment of the art world and society at large, and subsequent questions associated with his role within it.
Maciejowski is a great observer of modern life. Transforming the vernacularisms of our image-economy into paintings, he manages to decode and interpret the complexities of post-capitalist society’s medias whilst also playfully satirising the medium of paint itself.
He appropriates images from newspapers, magazines and the Internet, re-fashioning the unspectacular, jocular and otherwise forgotten images of our time into realist paintings. His paintings appropriate the ‘fast’ imagery associated with photography but pause the process of looking through the ‘slow’ analogue process of painting. He combines a crude flashiness reminiscent of comics with a meticulous technique, a mechanism that serves to undress the precocity of the European avant-garde and painting at large.
There is a sculptural quality to these pictures that is surprising considering the true physical flatness of the paintings. The combination of blurring and hard lines, which achieves this, is however one of Maciejowski’s trademarks. The underlying tone of satire that exists in these paintings is perhaps most obviously aligned with societal issues but can also be seen as a mocking gesture at painting itself. Take for example Could Renoir really be wrong?, 2011, the smooth texture and mild colour transitions within this painting, whose monochromatic tone is prototypical of Maciejowski’s ‘historical’ canvases, affords the painting the character of an aesthetic object for contemplation. But this ornamentalism is faux and emblematic of the artist’s tongue-in-cheek wit and concerns with self-aggrandisement, the formation of canons and ultimately the myth of the artist in European culture, which Maciejowski’s Renoir seems to be contemplating himself. The ideogram and title of the painting is a wry and direct product of Maciejowski’s brevity and ultimate interest in the mechanisms of ‘truth’ and preconception within the history of art. Oddly then, we are also left to ponder, with the seriousness we would afford an old master, the trivialities of contemporary celebrity in a work like Seated Bather, 2012. Maciejowski’s technique manages to calm the disorder of our image overload but simultaneously highlight the pomposity, but also power, of painting whilst satirising the vacuity of so much contemporary imagery.
Maciejowski doesn’t bore us with the usual tropes associated with the relevance of painting today, he is firmly aware of the legitimacy of other image producing mechanisms. Indeed the sources of his images – comics, posters, computer games, his own snapshots, the internet – are all mediums that belittle the relevancy of the individual. Subsequently, Maciejowski highlights his own situation as an artist in the contemporary world and his relationship between his practice and other equally valid methods of image production. By thus believing in the ability of painting to reflect on other methods of depiction, he makes a virtue of the stillness of the medium itself.
The artist’s hybridisation of mass culture, high art and images of the everyday engages a critical revelation of the complex interactions existing within our image-economy and the subjective mechanisms of image making. Likewise, his laconic narratives and paired down aesthetic offer us an antidote to the over proliferation of image and information and provide a space for subjective interpretation. The resultant images are satirical documents of our time as defined by Maciejowski’s own cynical brand of humour and his vision of a society progressively oblivious. In many ways we can understand Maciejowski as a modern day allegorist; understanding and describing a complex and decentralized world through its most banal and simple events. Marcin Maciejowski was born in 1974 in Babice near Krakow, Poland where he lives and works. In 1996 he founded Grupa Ladnie with Rafal Bujnowski, Marek Firek, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Josef Tomczyk Kurosaw. Recent important solo exhibitions include a retrospective at The National Museum in Krakow, Poland ‘Tak Jest’ (2010) and ‘Are you really from the art world?’ at Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg (2010). Recent group exhibitions include ‘History in Art’ at MOCAK , Krakow(2011); ‘The Power of Fantasy: Modern and Contemporary Art from Poland’ at Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels; ‘Schism, Pol ish Art of the 1990s’ at Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2009) and ‘The Ma k ing of Art’ at Schir n Kunsthalle , Frankfurt (2009). He is also inc luded in ‘Vitamin P2’ publi shed by Phaidon (2011).