Hokaina. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski

17 September  – 28 November 2010
Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw


The exhibition Hokaina is the first monographic presentation of the work of Jakub Julian Ziółkowski in a public gallery. Up until now the painter has principally been known to the Polish public through presentations in the Foksal Gallery Foundation and the FAIT Gallery in Cracow. Recently his work was presented at the Bunkier Sztuki in Cracow at the exhibition The Curse of the Imagination. In the frame of the Gwangju Biennale, whose this year edition entitled 10 000 Lives opened at the beginning of September, Ziółkowski showed a series of drawings illustrating George Bataille’s Story of the Eye, which the magazine Artforum declared one of the “hits” of the Biennale.


The artist made his debut in 2004, when the Polish art scene was dominated by the ‘Ładnie generation’. After the period of engaged art of the 90s the Polish public was first presented with an easily digestible phenomenon referred to as pop banalism, so that it could then accept the mature and reality-referencing painting of Sasnal, Rogalski and Maciejowski; a painting with which both critics, as well as a new generation of collectors and the wider public willingly identified. A painting that referred to reality – both present and past – but was focused on the process of perception, filtered by other media: film, photography, television adverts, music videos and tabloid photos. Among this group of realists emerged a metaphysical painter (or, as others have called him, a surrealist one) for whom painting was not a means, but rather an end unto itself.

Ziółkowski treats both the reality in which he finds himself and art history as a whole with the same ahistorical off-handedness, using them as an inexhaustible reservoir of forms and motifs for building a private symbolism. His paintings and graphic works recall multi-layer compositions, where the tales spun create a dispersed web of meanings. His is a metaphysical painting, which through history does not understand the recent past in which we are submerged, but a supra-situational dialogue with the great tradition of art and visual culture. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski is one of the first artists of the youngest generation who, in his own way, turns away from the contemporary to draw inspiration from other sources, such as: the surrealist tradition, metaphysical painting, the art of Japan and India, the work of Neo Rauch, Giorgio de Chirico, Alfred Kubin, James Ensor, Otto Dix, or even Pablo Picasso. In the artist’s works, individual motifs and elements build an apparently chaotic world in which, however, a certain order paradoxically reigns. A frequently encountered theme in his work are still lives and nature itself, portrayed in great detail, ornamentally filling the space of the canvas. In a similar way, Ziółkowski’s studies of people, penetrating both their psychic and physical interior, painted flat, without perspective are a particular kind of, as Jakub Banasiak writes, “impression on the theme of a portrait”.



The exhibition in Zachęta begins with the artist’s best known work, The Great Battle Under the Table, borrowed from the Zabludowicz collection, which takes up virtually the whole space of the gallery’s Mały Salon. In subsequent rooms are presented works made over the course of the last few years, such as: Untitled (Journey) from the Friedrich Christian Flick collection; Oesophagus from the Goetz collection; Untitled from the ING Foundation Collection of Polish Art, and Sleep and the work Suffering and Torture from other private collections, as well as other works by the artist. Viewing the exhibition, one is stuck both by the precision and the mastery of this young painter making use of different techniques, and his quest for new forms and stylistics, a constant need for experimentation and development. In the final space of the exhibition hang his newest works, mainly gouaches, made especially for the exhibition at Zachęta.


The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated book, containing both texts about the artist’s work and over a hundred reproductions of his works (paintings and gouaches) from the last five years. Additional information as well as video documentation of the exhibition you can find on Zachęta – National Gallery of Art page.

curator: Hanna Wróblewska

the exhibition organised by Zachęta National Gallery of Art and The ING Polish Art Foundation

Hokaina. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski
Hokaina. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski
Hokaina. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski

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22 November – 4 December 2016
BWA Tarnów


3 March – 5 June 2018
Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw

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