No 3 (75) 2008
July - September

Mikołaj Smoczyński

Recordings in Space

Mikołaj Smoczyński is, undoubtedly, one of the most interesting mid-generation artists, who has strongly marked his presence in the minds of those who deal with the present art. He has followed a number of art disciplines, such as painting, photography, performance, objects. Further, he is a pedagogue. Nevertheless, his creative expression has been most visible in photography and installation, in the wide sense of the term.

Andrzej Szczepaniak

Art historian, curator. He lives and works in Cracow.

Andrzej Szczepaniak

AFTER A SHORT PAINTING EPISODE, inspired by minimal art and arte povera, Smoczyński started making objects out of elements of the pictures that he had painted earlier. The resulting objects entered into a direct contact with their surroundings. What is more, he got interested in probing the problem of these surroundings changeability. The latter has led to black-and-white photography, strongly associated with the output by this artist.

Secret Performance has been a record of the conditions of the reality, under transformation, made in one and the same room. Close observation of the tiles texture, water shape, dust on the floor has turned into a specific performance which was “registered” on photographs, and documented the changing reality of his surroundings; private, since made in his atelier.

Following these attempts, Smoczyński was actively preoccupied with interfering into the space. Applying the site specific method – which in his case strongly stressed the character of the interior, and underlined the features that had been either neglected or hardly visible – he considerably disassembled the interiors where he was developing expanded, spatial projects. Striking a sort of a specific dialogue with the existing site, he made an effort to understand it, considering its characteristics, material structure, its shape, history, and time.

These determining experiments with various sites have been visible during such exhibitions, as Transformation, Elevation, and Hoisting showed at the Łódź Eastern Gallery, the Ujazdowski Castle Contemporary Art Center in Warsaw and San Diego. These offered examples of the deconstruction of fragments of the floor at his atelier, and reassembling them anew, at a new location; further, it was an interference into the existing space, making use of the existing interior elements, like tile floor and linoleums.

The Photographs series involved sticking canvases onto gallery walls, then tearing them off along with layers of old coats of paint and plaster. Thus, he initiated a way to expose the reverse of reality belonging to a given site.

In the next stage, comprising the installations entitled Parallel Action, Temporary con Temporary and Direct Action, chip and cement board – the material used in building sector – was a basic component. Nearly architectonic projects, developed with the use of construction materials, scaffoldings and asbestos – cement roofing, transformed and shaped new situations, new interiors within the interior. Their texture, color and light changeability factor – of constant interest to the artist – complemented the installations.

Smoczyński has always showed an intellectual sense of discipline, close to the conceptual approach of the 70’s. This has been particularly visible in recent period, when he has included – to abstract compositions – materials and objects along with their everyday functions, while the context of new installations, each time created a specific climate at a new site. Besides used bulbs, lemons splashed with lime, the 19th century icon with Santa Claus or his exhibition posters, he has applied wooden hangers which – in various sets – amount to abstract compositions, mainly round in shape, being either closed by a frame of rectangular chests, or forming waving arrangements put directly on the walls.

Lately, the artist has returned to drawing in coal and pencil on wooden tables which brought about the series of cyclical works entitled Stigmatic Drawings, Tables – Diptychs and Forms – a wooden hanger still being their main element – presented at the Indeterminate Figures Indeterminate Inscapes exhibition at the Starmach Gallery in Cracow.

The output by Mikołaj Smoczyński has been hard to classify. On one hand, there has been the persistence to strike an intimate relationship with the site – this quality can be traced nearly in all his works – on the other – he has been focused on the object itself, the material it is made of, as an additional complement of the space. His works have the same impact as abstract compositions, while an object and the aura it creates take priority.

Mikołaj Smoczyński
B. in 1955. Studies at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź in 1974-1975, at Maria Curie Skłodowska University in Lublin in 1975-1979, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1984- 1985. He received following artistic grants: Quint Kirchman Projects, San Diego, 1991; Fondation d’Art de la Napoule, Memorial Henry Clews, La Napoule, 1993; Soros Foundation, New York, 1995; Jurzykowski Foundation, New York, 1997; Kościuszko Foundation, New York, 2001; The Pollock Krasner Foundation, New York, 2001; International Program Studio, New York, 2001. In 1990, he won Stanisław Wyspiański award. In 1992, he was granted the Grand Prix of the 5th International Drawing Triennial in Wrocław, in the same year he won the 2nd award at the “European Photography” exhibition in Berlin. His works are at museum collections in Poland and abroad. He lives and works in Lublin. He took part in several dozens exhibitions at home and abroad; inter alia: France, Germany, Turkey, Austria, USA, Spain, Ukraine.

One-man exhibitions:

  • Galeria BWA, Lublin, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2006;
  • Galeria O.N., Poznań, 1981, 1985, 1986;
  • Galeria Labirynt 2, Lublin, 1985, 1992, 2004;
  • Culture Centre, Debrecen, 1986;
  • Foto Medium-Art, Wrocław, 1986;
  • Galeria Dziekanka, Warszawa, 1987;
  • Galerie lĀfOllave, Lyon, 1988;
  • Galeria Wschodnia, Łódź, 1988, 1991;
  • Galeria BWA Awangarda, Wrocław, 1988;
  • Galeria Foksal, Warszawa, 1991, 1995;
  • San Diego State University Art Gallery, 1991;
  • Quint Kirchman Projects, San Diego, 1991;
  • E.L.A.C., Lyon, 1992; - Galeria ZPAP, Warszawa, 1992;
  • Muzeum Artystów, Łódź, 1993;
  • Zamek Ujazdowski, Warszawa, 1993, 1997, 2006;
  • Galeria Krzysztofory, Kraków, 1993;
  • Rosa Esman Galery, New York, 1993;
  • Galeria Potocka, Kraków, 1993;
  • Art In General Gallery, New York, 1995;
  • Galeria Zachęta, Warszawa, 1996;
  • IFA Galerie Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, 1997;
  • Galeria u Jezuitów, Poznań, 1999;
  • Galeria Arsenał, Poznań, 2001;
  • International Studio Program, New York, 2001;
  • Galeria BWA, Zielona Góra, 2003;
  • Galeria Sektor I, Katowice, 2003;
  • Galeria Szara, Cieszyn, 2005;
  • Muzeum Ziemi Lubuskiej, Zielona Góra, 2006;
  • Galeria Pokaz, Warszawa, 2006;
  • Galeria Starmach, Kraków, 2008.