Rafał Dominik

b. 1985, Warsaw

Painter, draughtsman, creator of animations, sculptures, and 3D digital objects. He graduated from the Faculty of Painting in Prof. Leon Tarasewicz’s studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He is the founder and vocalist of the disco polo group Galactics, and a member of the now-defunct Czosnek (Garlic) project collective. He was co-curator of the Art in Our Age exhibition organised by the ING Polish Art Foundation. Inspired by contemporary visual and material culture, such as sports shoes and electronic appliances recognised as status and lifestyle symbols, his style evokes the aesthetic of a comic book or computer game. The protagonists of his works are frequently humorous but never ironic. He lives and works in Warsaw.

Poles Uniting

2017, airbrush, paper, 112 × 153 cm

While the scene of reconciliation references figural compositions from historical paintings in layout, the gravity of the known iconographic theme becomes almost comical in Rafał Dominik’s piece. The static figures of Poles uniting seem both monumental and clumsy, like a primitive, naïve statue. Frozen in handshake, the semi-naked Poles resemble people of the Stone Age, although their hairstyles (the women’s in particular) are most definitely modern. One might well suspect that despite best efforts, the process of Poles uniting has been in progress for centuries, and yet has stalled. Perhaps it will never be successful.

Guys from the Early Top One

2017, airbrush, paper, 112 × 153 cm

Rafał Dominik is a fan and connoisseur of disco polo music, and was even part of the disco polo ensemble Galactics for a time. Guys from the Early Top One portrays members of a group popular at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, the ensemble’s membership changing a number of times. In all likelihood, the drawing shows Paweł Kucharski, Top One vocalist for many years, and Ghanaian Daniel Osafo Oware, a dancer from Top One’s most famous piece, Ole Olek!, composed on commission by Aleksander Kwaśniewski’s presidential campaign in 1995. The men’s faces are simplified and devoid of individual characteristics to an extent allowing the protagonists to be identified only by the work’s title. The suggestive arrangement of the bodies makes the scene emotional yet intimate.

Intelligent and Unintelligent Compare the Size of Their Hands

2019, 3D file, 443,6 MB

While Intelligent is a digital 3D model, in formal terms its characters resemble figures drawn by Rafał Dominik in analogue format, pencil or airbrush on paper. The work was shown for the first time at the online Kliki i Obroty Gallery. The virtual sculpture group may be enlarged and minimised, rotated and viewed from assorted angles, but the hands of the intelligent and unintelligent remain invariably pinned to the central browser window section. The difference in the size of their hands seems truly significant, but how does one determine who is who? Any presumptions obviously bring out deeply rooted stereotypes. In Rafał Dominik’s works, figures are symbols and carriers of meanings and values, while the practically narrative titles trigger stories encrypted in his works.

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