11.03.2005 - 14.04.2005
Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow
For the first time in Poland, Bogdan Korczowski presents the "Fototeka" painting system created since 1995. 40 works from this series are small abstract pictures, in which polaroid photos depicting female bodies in erotic poses have been incorporated. The whole is arranged in a wall fresco. By introducing the opposition between abstraction and figuration in the "Fototeka", the artist renews attempts to position himself halfway between expressionism and introspection.
The great "kabbalah" of Korczowski
Bogdan Korczowski talks to Delphine Dewulf
For what purpose do you include photographs for painting?
- Note: I do not include photographs in my paintings, but polaroids. The difference is that in the case of polaroids there is no possibility of multiplication. So it is, like painting, a unique. Which does not mean that I defend this technique. I only strive to define myself as a painter. Besides, when I make these pictures I do not have to create beautiful pictures. These polaroids show simple and raw things. There is no straight form on them, my bodies of women remain without faces.
These polaroids clearly show what they represent. They are figuration. Your painting, on the contrary, has always been abstract ...
- Yes, I am interested in working with this duality. Besides, I have been told for a long time that there is something sensual in my paintings. Well, that was not the purpose of my search. But I began to think about it and decided to take the ball off, showing this time ostentatiously sensuality. Ultimately, some see only pictures of naked women in them, while others perceive the work in all its complexity. There are always two levels of perception of the work. From a distance, "Fototeka" reminds me of my paintings. Up close is something completely different. This allows me to emphasize the necessarily subjective nature of the interpretation of the work. And also analyze the way others look at my paintings.
Poland is still a very Puritan country ... do you expect any special reaction from the Polish audience?
- I do not expect a reaction. I'm not trying to provoke you either. But if some people are agitated, it will be a breeding ground for my reflections.
You spent the first 26 years of your life in Krakow, but since the early 1980s you have lived in Paris ... Why did you decide to settle in France?
- I married a Parisian in Krakow. I followed her to Paris when the regime in Poland became too nagging. Then I did not live in Krakow anymore, and that's why I could come back to him better. I'm on an artistic journey, here and there. I am Polish in France and French in Poland. It is a great happiness for the artist to be able to compare cultures. Confrontation is absolutely necessary for creation. It avoids closing. Similarly, my work avoids classification. Some may talk about "abstract symbolism", which is not a contradiction.
Indeed, your paintings are sometimes full of symbols. Do you have any specific message to convey?
- You know, I visited a lot of archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean. I was often in front of stones covered with illegible inscriptions. In such cases you can experience very strong impressions, even if the inscription is really just an ancient tax declaration. I think that in the face of a work one does not have to try to understand but above all feel. The words of Bruno Schulz are very important to me:
"Art is not a rebus to which the key is hidden somewhere, and philosophy is not a way to solve this rebus." (B.Schulz's letter to S.I.Witkiewicz).
"Les Echos de Pologne" 2005, No. 41 (13/26 January)
Interview with Korczowski for "webesteem magazine" No. 10/2005:
I debuted in 1974 as a performer (performance "White Bike" at the festival in Nowa Ruda), but actually I always wanted to paint and painting has been my form of expression for the last 30 years. I have been discussed many times about my "abstract symbolism", especially after my exhibition in Zachęta, which was entirely based on abstract signs. I have been asked many times about the interpretations of my paintings. I hardly ever spoke, leaving the analysis of my work to others. Some opinions were right and others quite random. Later in Paris I heard about a certain "sensuality" of my painting many times and then I really started my own analysis (artistic and psychoanalytical) of these concepts, intrigued by this "juxtaposition".
In the mid-90s, I made the first series of polaroids depicting fragments of the human body and mixed them with my painting and symbols like crosses or stars.
Therefore, the print is unique, directly visible, without any special technical manipulation. I use the Polaroid not as a photographer but a painter, like "brush and paint" at the same time, realizing hundreds of photos and gluing them in the image simultaneously with paint. The small format of the polaroid imposed a small image format, but the obsessiveness of work did not let me stop. I came to the point where several dozen polaroids got lost in the mass of several dozens at first, and then hundreds of pictures as installations. I provoked and built a painterly and photographic situation, which from DALEKA we receive as PAINTING, and which, looking from BLISKA, changes into a PHOTOGRAPHIC situation.
Twice the work?
Multilayered interpretation? The picture is not "innocent", something stands behind it, but you should not ask "why?". Ask "how?". But neither the painting nor the artist is "guilty" because it is simply free. I have come to the point that suggestiveness and dual interpretation are never objective when it comes to artistic work, any artistic work. I was surprised recently by the reaction in Poland to the work of Dorota Nieznalska. I wrote to her: "the freedom of art is unlimited freedom"; unfortunately, it happened that Dorota was convicted. Totalitarianism of thinking accepts only the questions "why?" And not "how does it happen that the artist comes to certain media, or uses a variety of plastic juxtapositions?".
In Paris, I made an exhibition of my polaroids from the 90s in Galeria Selmersheim and entitled "Phototheque" (Fototeka), giving this title as an allusion to the private archive of the artist. The entire gallery was filled with about 150 works with polaroids and at the opening I heard completely different comments from my colleagues from a distance of a few meters and those who observed the work up close. Recently, I have been working on large purely painting formats and these series have been called "Sensualite au Vegetal". Suggestion after polaroids? Maybe, because it is work parallel to photographic work.