Amalgamate by Sławomir Pawszak at BWA Warsaw Gallery, curated by Monika Čejková.
Sławomir Pawszak: Amalgamate
Curated by Monika Čejková
1 October - 28 November, 2020
BWA Warsaw Gallery, Warsaw (a part of Warsaw Gallery Weekend)
Over the last two decades, various tendencies and experiments have appeared in the area of painting attempting to reflect the phenomenon of the internet, the existence of virtual reality, and social media. Together, these efforts have, in the end, put to rest the myth that painting as a medium has become outdated and extinct. Instead, new possibilities have opened up for painting, allowing it to physically disengage from the walls of the exhibition hall, expand into the environment of the internet, and even use the digital world as one of its creative instruments. From a historical viewpoint, this is another development in our relationship with paintings, which has undergone a transformation as a result of new technologies.
Although Sławomir Pawszak’s art practice remains traditional in its physical presence, such as painted canvases, stretched on frames or experiments with objects and installations suspended in the gallery, at the same time, it offers complex contemplation of the perception of the image and its role in our contemporary digitalized world, where it is impossible to ignore the increasing amount of time we spend looking at visual content on our monitors or smartphone displays. Pawszak comes to terms with the overproduction of digital images, and reacts to their flat and superficial nature as well as the visual sphere of the internet in general. He finds various images online, downloading and saving them into thematic folders to use as an endless source of second-hand visuals – with synthesis and various computer effects, he reworks them into his paintings. With a certain dose of scepticism and humour, he thus imprints onto his canvases the bizarreness of the images flooding the internet. At times his artworks may appear to balance on the verge of kitsch, but they also work with the internet as a serious platform and in particular bring to our attention the current consumer society existing on network interfaces. Pawszak’s artworks are thus a contemporary statement as well as an amalgamation of ideas about painting as a visualization of the many layers of human existence, including fantasies about an infinite universe currently originating in the virtual world.
In general, Pawszak’s paintings do not have titles, nor do they depict any external reality existing in a specified time and location. The meaning of his individual artworks is only given by the syntax of the whole oeuvre. One might even make the assertion, with only a slight degree of exaggeration, that all his works are variations on one painting, which is not an interpretation of the depicted reality but rather a slice of it. The individual paintings appear to us as sequences of an internally nonuniform world. As part of an overall mosaic, they preserve a particular order, but ultimately frame configurations of shapes that seem familiar to us. In this regard, the works indirectly touch upon certain aspects of the modernist experiments from the beginning of the twentieth century, for example in the way they cast doubt on the nature of the painting medium, deconstruct form and space, and liberate colour from its dependence on the object – all of this in confrontation with the two-dimensional surface of the pictorial plane.
The exhibition Amalgamate at BWA Gallery will not only focus on Pawszak’s new paintings, but will also present his identically themed ceramic objects on the façade of the MDM urbanist complex on Marszałkowska street in Warsaw. The installation is inspired by the ceramic reliefs installed at high-rise housing estates under Socialism in the former Eastern Bloc.