Polish artist Jakub Julian Ziolkowski’s phantasmagorical paintings roil with colourful mutant life: plants sprout eyeballs, bodies slough off limbs and disgorge organs, and dense vegetal landscapes transform into visceral surgical tableaux.Read More
Vibrant and perverse, anthropomorphic and surreal, Ziolkowski’s private language is the symbolic expression of a highly concerted imagination that was shaped by life in a very small town: Zamosc, where the artist was born in 1980, is a remote Renaissance city that began as a fortress in the middle of the lush Roztocze plateau in southeast Poland.
Here, wild nature penetrates the edges of an idealised urban microcosm that was once a centre of intellectual life and seat of Eastern Europe’s Chasidic Jewish community, later stained by Nazi atrocities, and today is home to a concentration of food factories. Influenced by Zamosc’s dream-like intersection of preserved history and encroaching modernity, Ziolkowski has nurtured an inner world where poetry and ornament, religiosity and eschatology, flourishing life and decay intertwine. This is the universe of Ziolkowski’s art.
His is a world in which recurrent themes–of flames, entrails and skulls–combine in a cacophony of forms, the source of which is the artist’s own imagination. Visceral motifs are interwoven in highly intricate, repetitive configurations. The imagery reveals the artist’s ongoing fascination in presenting the body through its component parts and, by doing so, referencing transcendental states of being.
His work is obsessive in its level of detail and the artist adds further skeins of white paint across the surface of the canvas as if the painting itself is capable of delivering an electrical charge. Viewers of his work are invited to enter an emotional realm in which obsessions and desires, fears and doubts, and passions and anxieties collide. Individually compelling, when seen together, his works create a transgressive mindscape, bristling with narrative and detail.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.
Dr Wenny Teo, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Asian Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, discusses Jakub Julian Ziolkowski’s exhibition Ian Moon. Ziolkowski conjures an imaginary universe in