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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » February 25, 2011
Exhibitions
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Catalog of Inspiration
February 25, 2011   
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The latest works of Tomasz Kowalski, one of the leading figures of the younger generation of Polish artists dubbed “the new surrealists” by art critics, are on display at the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. Chimney Sweep on the Roof of the Church is the first in-depth exhibition of the work of this promising painter, sketcher, and creator of collages, installations and video works to be shown in Poland.

The project consists of works the artist has exhibited in Berlin, Vienna and Antwerp over the last two years, as well as premieres of assemblages, bas-reliefs, gouaches, tapestries, sculptures, and the titular radio play Chimney Sweep on the Roof of the Church. The chimney sweep totters into the text in a daze against a black on black backdrop while Kowalski’s dark words build an increasingly gloomy ambiance. This mysterious and disturbing figure represents “every shade of black” and can be described as a peculiar kind of oarsman who steers the clouds of smoke away from the chimney.

Figurative paintings make up one facet of Kowalski’s work. These draw the viewer into a web of complexity and fantastic, fairy-tale narratives that give the impression of illustrating texts that cannot be written down. The second facet is made up of suggestive works that border on the abstract.

Kowalski’s work seems to come from another era. The artist makes liberal use of quotes of old artworks, such as those by Peter Bruegel, James Ensor, and the Italian, Dutch and Flemish masters to resurrect the brilliant still life of the 17th century. The strains of naive art and Polish folklore can also be detected. He frequently calls on the artistic traditions of France too. The catalog of Kowalski’s inspiration seems to go on forever. He uses oils, watercolors and gouaches and paints on paper, canvases and boards. Kowalski makes use of old materials and bits of furniture in his wooden sculptures and machine models. These stand alongside his canvases at exhibitions.

Open until April 10
Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art 2 Jazdów St., Warsaw
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