No 2 (82) 2010
April - June


The Contingency of Painting

Large size canvases by Michał Chojecki offer striking contrasts between an expressive form, violent line and strong color. The works by this artist deal with the concept of picture shaped in the course of the creative process, leading to an autonomous material existence liberated from the touch of the artist’s hand.

Malwina Domagała

Historian and art critic. PhD student at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Malwina Domagała

CHOJECKI'S ARTISTIC PERSONALITY shows the features of an explorer searching for new means of expression. During his studies at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts Graphic Faculty, he was passionately involved in formal experiments in the area of graphic techniques which he transferred - with paints and a brush - onto the canvas space. Since then, the young artist has applied in his painting various textural effects as the main means of his creative expression. The output by Chojecki contains reflections over the physical existence of a picture, its nearly carnal qualities presented on the wooden slats construction with canvas stretched on it by the artist himself, the contingency of the painting layer added.

Extremely thorough deliberations on the understanding and perception of picture have been conducted by Hans Belting, one of the most outstanding contemporary visual culture experts, who quoted its various meanings: "(...) word <<picture>>. This hides the fact that one does not speak about the same pictures, merely drops an anchor of shallow understanding. While talking about pictures, one is constantly faced with a sense of vagueness. Some wish to give an impression that pictures are totally immaterial which is even not true as far as images of imagination are concerned. After all, the latter occupy one's body. Others generally level images with the visual area; thus anything one sees is regarded as a picture, by the same token, losing the symbolic meaning. Still others at a flat-rate identify pictures with iconic signs, connected to the reality by similarities, while the reality is not a picture and remains superior to it. Finally, there is an artistic discourse that either ignores lay pictures - existing outside museums (new temples of art) - or protects art against all questions about pictures, since the latter undermine the status of art as the only object of interest. Simultaneously, new controversy over pictures has arisen, involving a war of definition monopolies. One talks in this way not only about different pictures, but applies various discourses to the pictures of the same type"1).

Chojecki has formulated his own definition of the picture - "there is nothing more in a picture besides its components. The picture is merely the paint organized in a proper order, adopting adequate to this order meanings"2). In practice, the artist has verified his own definition, subordinating it to a complex, intellectual and physical effort consuming creative process. Construction, "production", composition start at the very moment of fixing the canvas on a stretcher and priming its surface. A strong need to paint, to create is born exactly then. A rough priming layer, unevenly stretched canvas are values added that enrich individual characteristics of painting compositions. The next stage involves a selection of proper pigments, specially prepared for manual paint production. Thus, the artist can achieve the expected and planned effect. The final result is based on the thorough insight into the substance properties and extraordinary technical skills. The artist intends to create, each time, a unique, original picture. Chojecki has been convinced that his role in the process of making painting compositions is not reduced to applying paint onto the canvas. Pictures have been an integral element of the artist's life; he lives with them and coexisting from the very beginning of the creative process, through shaping their form, till the moment of completion.

The result of his efforts - the final composition shape being an outcome of the artistic process - is not fully predictable. Chojecki identifies pictures with living biological and chemical organisms that impose their own rules on working process, marked with con-stant struggle, obstacles, negotiations, attempts to combine and control the two most essential factors: chemical reactions taking place on the canvas surface - a result of specific technologies - and iconographic layer. The young artist has developed his own technique to combine wax and oil paints. Thus, he has managed to achieve an extremely rich and versatile painting matter; vibrations of the layered, frozen in place paint, or its biomorphic overflowing shapes.

The direction of search for a relevant form for the imaginative motives depends upon the artist's emotions, being a record of his thoughts, experience, unspoken words. Further, it is used to formulate statements and deliberations on the world. A subdued, contemplative series of monochromatic pictures (2008-2009) offers a sense of concentration on the canvases surface, achieved by means of applying multiple layers of paint with an extremely delicate, flat paintbrush touches in order to get an effect of maximally dark color hue as a result of correlation of permeated subsequent layers. Thus, the pictures gain the palette maintained in rich shades of dark green, dark brown and brownish red.

The latest pieces by the artist, displayed at the Promotional Gallery, carry an emotional load and present a deep reflection on the world. Further, they penetrate the inside of humans and animals, talk about the still and living nature. Anthropomorphic and biological - with regard to their carnal aspects - forms reduce all physical beings to an overwhelming, dense painting matter. The artist has applied here a richer palette, some parts of pictures space show more subtle, lighter hues. He has differentiated canvases space introducing fluently running, multi direction lines, as well as smudging, wiping and scraping off. He has contrasted smooth, shiny parts with a matt color plane, enriching these with relief bulges of thickly applied wax or roughly layered paint. As a result, the biomorphic shapes get obliterated and turned into spreading, dynamic, pointlessly transformed forms.

This manner of developing the artistic self awareness, way of thinking, understanding and creation is extremely complex. It calls for a mature approach to oneself, as an artist, as well as to one's output. Further, it demands sustained critical control and constant learning and expanding one's knowledge. The statements by Michał Chojecki are characterized by exceptionally serious treatment of painting medium which according to the artist "(...) is lasting and universal, ever ready to construct /crystallize/, materialize a concept, ask questions, provide answers in the areas that are inaccessible for other forms of art. Prone to complicated experiments and deconstructions - nevertheless constantly reliable - he is always prepared to explain current contents"3).

The exhibited pictures are quite strong and expressive. They are powerful, daring and firm in terms of surprising formal solutions.


1) H. Belting, Anthropology of Picture. Sketches of Learning about Picture, translated by M. Bryl, Cracow 2007, p.11 - 12.
2) M. Chojecki, the catalogue of the Michał Chojecki. Pictures - Paintings exhibition, the Fibak Gallery, Warsaw 2009.
3) Ibidem.

Michał Chojecki

Born in 1985. Studies at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts Graphic Department in the period 2004-2009. Diploma with the Academy President's Distinction at the Faculty of Multimedia Artistic Creation under Prof. Stanisław Wieczorek. At present, a PhD student and junior lecturer at the parent department. The Academy of Fine Arts grant holder in 2005 - 2008. In 2008 - 2009 he won a scientific grant by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, and the Capital City of Warsaw grant named after John Paul II. Many times winner of awards of the Warsaw Graphic Arts Competition.


One-man exhibitions:

2007 - "Figuris", Fundacja Promocji Polskiej Sztuki Wizualnej im. Z. i R. Artymowskich, Łowicz
2009 - „Just Paintings", Galeria Fibak, Warszawa
2010 - „Zaciekiem do góry", Galeria Wyjście Awaryjne, SDK, Warszawa - Obrazy najnowsze, Galeria Promocyjna, Warszawa

Collective exhibitions:

2006 - „Salon odrzuconych", Chojecki, Masiarz, Turczyński, Wydział Grafiki ASP, Warszawa
2007 - „Warianty", Pracownia Kowalskiego 2007, Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, Warszawa - Rysunek, Galeria Aspekt, Warszawa - Wokół grafiki z kręgu ASP, Galeria Forma, Warszawa - Laureaci konkursu Grafiki Warszawskiej, Galeria Test, Warszawa
- Historisches Kulturforum U, Pasewalk (Niemcy) - Pracownia 14, BWA Skierniewice - „Warszawa nad Kamienną", Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski
- Chełchowski, Chojecki, Gregorek, Szpindler, Turczyński, Wójcik, Piwnica, Odolańska 10, Warszawa - Chełchowski, Chojecki, Gregorek, Ratz, Turczyński, Galeria Pracownia, Warszawa - Paul Holz and Friends, Pasewalk (Niemcy) - „Pracownia 11", Galeria Pod Arkadami, Łomża - Chojecki, Turczyński, malarstwo, Galeria Aspekt, Warszawa
- „Zgrzyt", Buźniak, Chojecki, Gorgoń, Ziemianowicz, Bibl. Bielańska, Warszawa - „Obrazowanie", Galeria El, Elbląg