Hokaina. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski
The exhibition was organised by the Zachęta National Art Gallery in cooperation with The ING Polish Art Foundation.
The paintings and graphics of Jakub Julian Ziółkowski resemble expansive and complex structures, Chinese box structure compositions, in which the stories told create an intricate network of meanings. One of the first painters of the young generation of artists to turn his back on pop-banality and on historical painting as well. Instead, he seeks inspiration in the traditions of painting, e.g. surrealism. The relations between the reality of a painting and what constitutes that reality are crucial for his art. The individual motifs and elements are parts of a chaotic world that, paradoxically, is ordered.
Curator | Hanna Wróblewska
The story of one exhibition. On the cooperation of the Foundation and Zachęta.
A few years ago, the Foundations’ authorities decided that the promotion of young artists and their work would be a crucial element of the Foundation’s activities. At that time, during the summer of 2008 to be precise, the Foundation purchased two small works by Jakub Julian Ziółkowski . These were the works of a 28-year old artist from the suburbs of Zamość, who wasn’t well known in his own country. The works were added to the Foundation collection through the Warsaw Foksal Gallery Foundation. Although the transaction itself was extremely pleasant, but as there was no possibility of meeting the artist face-to-face, we had the feeling that there was something missing. I contacted Julian a few months later and asked him if we could meet in Cracow. I also invited Hanna Wróblewska, who kept encouraging the ING Polish Art Foundation to become interested in the painter’s works. She too had never had the pleasure of meeting the artist in person.
The meeting at the artist’s studio was scheduled for two hours but actually lasted for nearly the whole day: looking at all his artwork in the studio, analysing his portfolio. We engaged in conversation on the difficulties of painting large canvases in rooms with low ceilings, on the artist's home region, on the Warsaw turmoil, and the Far East. It was a special day, which brought about exceptional decisions. It was then that the proposal of organising the artist’s exhibition at the Zachęta Gallery came up. Paradoxically, despite being very talented and having many successes abroad, there hadn’t been any major presentation of Ziółkowski’s works in Poland. I’m delighted that the Foundation contributed to the meeting of a great artist and a renown curator, which resulted in a brilliant exhibition.
The ING Polish Art Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This is a unique opportunity to emphasise that the Foundation focuses not only on the creation of a wonderful collection, but is also entering the next decade as an important institution promoting young and talented Polish artists, cooperating with crucial cultural institutions. I believe that the Polish audience will be pleased with the exhibition at the Zachęta National Art Gallery, just as Jakub Julian Ziółkowski‘s works won publicity abroad. The Foundation’s participation in this exhibition is in some sense symbolic, considering the history and message depicted: young artists and their development are of greatest importance to the Foundation.
Paintings in Revolt. On the Art of Jakub Julian Ziółkowski.
To say about these canvases that they attract and captivate would be an understatement. The starting point is an explosion of an all-encompassing vision, a tsunami of colours and dazzling configurations. Symbols spill out as if from a cornucopia, offering to the amazed eye an iconographic universum very different to what we are used to. This visionary quality seems to have a lot in common with the explosion of a star known in astrophysics as a supernova, its radiation only momentary. It is very hard to move then to an observational analysis of the painting so that continuity is maintained with the initial vision.
In this peculiar antinomy, we are dealing with a demythologisation of the phenomenon of perception. In ordinary perception, a grasp of the whole develops harmoniously in a series of views and perspectives, focusing around a rational core that some psychological systems call the meaning of the perceived object. The history of European painting provides numerous examples of perception so construed on an otical-geometric basis. One example is Velázquez's famous Las Meninas, a classic interpretation of the inner structure of perception, organising the composition according to the coordinates of subject, background, horison and, above all, the symbolism and meaning of the scene represented.
The price we pay for communing with Ziółkowski's work is the price of saying goodbye to the unity of the act of perception. His disturbing paintings pull us into a risky game with stratified perception, dominated by the experience of thresholds and liminality. A lot has already been written about the entropy of these works, stressing a characteristic dispersion of narrative threads and persistent separation of the represented worlds. However, the main property of entopy is not dispersion, but an irreversible loss of heat. It is precisely here that the essence of the painterly act and the corresponding act of perception in the version proposed by Ziółkowksi resides - our initial intuition of the whole, permeated with inner heat, gradually fades away in a tangle of motifs that offer the cool geometry of a complex iconic pattern. Without an interpretational 'booster', the vision has to die down, producing a painterly proof of the impossibility of perpetuum mobile. The 'boost' is provided by the tradition of painting and the catalogue of dream images, as well as our incomplete knowledge of the psychosomatic structure of organisms and the polymorphous nature of the world, so superbly illustrated in the artist's painting. We stand, awestruck, at the threshold of a high-temperature vision and a quasi-anatomical, cold vivisection of disturbing details, through which speaks an ominous madness of the swarming of different forms. The experience of that threshold acts as a clear testimony of critical impotence, of the impossibility of being at once in two systems, the harmony of which is known only to the artist.