Poles Apart: new art from Poland

Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

Jakub Julian Ziolkowskir: new Polish artists

Born in 1980, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski is not only one of the youngest artists featured here, he's also currently the most talked about.

Hailed as a 'new Picasso', and applauded by influential critic Jerry Saltz for his "visionary Bosch-meets-Ensor" aesthetic, this is one Polish artist whose name you'll certainly be hearing a lot more of.

But are the plaudits fully deserved?

Experiments with a range of styles and subjects, from surreal portraits to lavishly detailed fantasies, reveal creative weaknesses as well as strengths.

While the majority of Ziolkowski's work is clearly a hefty cut above average, it doesn't consist of endless masterpieces - yet.

Nevertheless, the young artist's stand-out paintings are indeed exceptional; assured, complex works that subtly break new ground and justify at least some comparison with art-historical greats.

Ziolkowski himself remains refreshingly detached from the buzz, even leaving the question of what inspires him for others to ruminate. "I don't get where it all comes from," he says. "There are all kinds of visions, reasons, impulses, and as long as they are there, one should be happy about it."


Jakub Julian Ziolkowski, Polish art contemporary art from Poland, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

images © Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

Przemek Matecki

Przemek Matecki, contemporary art from poland

Fascinated by glossy magaazine-style shots of models and celebrities as well as anonymous vintage portraits, Matecki converts found imagery into new hybrids of identity and form.

Unlike many artists concerned with such references, Matecki shows little interest in nostalgia, critique or narrative thrust.

Instead, he investigates the formal demands of finely balancing the figuration of his chosen imagery with abstract mark-making, fusing the stasis of the photograph with intense, energetic brushwork.

The cult of personality is a global obsession, and the act of resurrecting long-forgotten photo albums a now-familiar artistic trend.

Matecki's interventions, however, verge on defacement, a near-negation of his subjects' personalities.

Yet despite such anarchic obliterations, he always allows his sources to somehow surface, an act of control that is far more subtle than it may at first appear.


Przemek Matecki, new Polish art contemporary art from Poland, Przemek Matecki
images © Przemek Matecki

Sofi Zezmer

Sofi Zezmer, contemporary art from Poland

Born in Poland though now resident in Germany, Sofi Zezmer's sculptural works draw inspiration from 'biochemistry, quantum mechanics, space travel, and genetic stem cell research'.

While approximating physical structures that naturally occur in science, the materials used are predominantly synthetic, a concern that reflects Zezmer's own synthesis of disparate references.

While her works defy categorisation, they also share characteristics with the mass-produced products that surround us, conveying, therefore, a sense of familiarity which is simultaneously negated by their strangeness.

By combining the inspiration derived from specialist sciences with the commonplace and quotidian, Zezmer fuses fundamental oppositions into intriguing sculptural form.


Sofi Zezmer, art from Poland
images © Sofi Zezmer

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