No 2 (86) 2011
April - June

From Symbolism to Self Cannibalism

"Some easy steps to make a picture" is the title of a series of paintings, and simultaneously the procedure to create and to shape an image. Bartosz Kokosiński has been an author of this slightly ironic concept.

Roman Lewandowski

Theoretician and art. critic. Curator of the Baltic Contemporary Art. Gallery in Słupsk. Lecturer at the Cracow Fine Arts Academy Inter Media Faculty.

Roman Lewandowski

A YOUNG GRADUATE FROM THE CRACOW ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS (2009) boasts of several important one-man shows and the EXIT quarterly award won during the "2010 Promotions" all-Poland Young Painting Presentations in Legnica.

Bartosz Kokosiński has worked in terms of series, i.e., he has not focused on an individual piece or topic, being clearly inclined to a conceptual, comprehensive approach to his own art. Starting with his diploma work, the artist has been following his own predilections and intuition. Thus, his works have not been bridged by media, styles or motives, but by the biographical context comprising on the one hand, gathered experience and knowledge, on the other - emotions and the area of carnality. Further, there have been meta artistic issues, since pondering on the language of art has been an intrinsic part of the reflections by the Cracow artist.

This has been visible in the "Painting Diseases" (2007), his first important painting series where Kokosiński has arranged pairs of portraits of one and the same person "before and after" he was ill. Parallel, these works offer a commentary on physical disturbances, and depict visual deconstructions of the body and picture. Thus, the artist has revealed an interest in extremes, where a thin transgression line is a meeting place of the beautiful and the ugly with what originates in nature and in culture. An ancient rule of decorum, describing similar tensions, does not result here in the golden mean, since this has been a superimposed order, of typically cultural origins. One might be afraid and disturbed that things and their images are not in keeping. This is why the contemporary art frequently tries to make trauma familiar and aesthetic. In case of Bartosz Kokosiński, this has been most visible in the "Exaggerated Pictures" (2007-2008) series, where he makes an effort to revoke, hide or take in inverted commas dramatic and drastic contents. An erotic and aesthetic approach to catastrophes - illustrated by an example of car crashes - has been achieved through softening the message. Pictures maintained in subdued gray, offering subtly rounded forms, do not fully render their content, while the form makes the pornography of death quite neutral. Years ago, similar effects have been achieved by Arnoid Odermatt who took pictures of car wrecks against the background of the Alpine mountains and lakes.

"Fit", the 2009 series, has disarmed good physical shape and identity. Men Kokosiński has photographed are as much naked as helpless. Their nude and sex remain under the pressure of form which calms down the game and carnal challenges. The "People Vegetables" series, from the same year, offers a portrait of man with plant attributes known from the work by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. In a sense, these pieces have summed up and closed the painting oriented period. Next, the artist has turned to construction and deconstruction of the figuration, based on the abstract language and distinctly spatial thinking. Both, the "Skins" series (2010) and "Pictures Devouring a Landscape/ Genre Scenes" (2011) enter the third dimension and offer a conceptual approach to the medium. Frames become not so much symbolic, but rather grow into space and take over the whole gallery area. Picture/ objects displayed by Kokosiński have been further focused on the carnal - thus the nomenclature and aesthetic of "skins" in his works refer both to the picture and process of depicting, as well as to the body and carnality domain. These topical motives and their interrelations have been equally addressed to man and art. Let us keep in mind that every single "devouring picture" can be interpreted as a prosthesis and projection of truly sensual and carnal notions. The combination and links between "self cannibalism" and symbolism make the art by Kokosiński ever more fleshy, sensual and full of hidden emotiveness. This has been a reservoir of his own (and artistic) potential and limitations. Thus, an intriguing question arises, where will all these tests lead the artist and his art...

Bartosz Kokosiński won the EXIT quarterly award during the "2010 Promotions" all-Poland Young Painting Presentations in Legnica. More about the artist on: