No 2 (94) 2013
April - June
OPINIONS

One Cannot Breathe a Hare

Wiktor Polak studied at the Łódź Academy of Fine Arts Painting and Graphic Art Faculty. In 2004 he got a graduation diploma under Prof. Grzegorz Przyborek, presenting a surprisingly mature work bordering on painting, advertising and photography, entitled "Boards".

Krzysztof Jurecki

B. in 1960. Art historian, AICA member. Lecturer at the Łódź Academy of Arts and Design.

Krzysztof Jurecki

PICTURES, DRAWINGS, SCULPTORS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PIOTR URBANIAK by the Photography and Video Picture Faculty run by Konrad Kuzyszyn. He has applied some elements of the "critical art" in the video formula, where performance, body-art, long quasi-photographic takes have marked the creative path by Polak. Some interesting pieces date back to the period of his studies when he cooperated with Agnieszka Chojnacka.

What is the essence of his style? The dadaistic rule of the "pure nonsense" has been interwoven here with discovering the subconscious, return to the childhood in the form of a conceptual like document ("Retkinia", "Radio Drama", 2009) with a slight interference on the edge of provocation ("Close"). Following the "new pop-art" convention, rarely applied in Poland, he has offered absurd pieces streaked with the erotic: "A Toy" and "One Cannot Breathe a Hare". Their distinctive features include a stable frame, focus on the character's torso, and transferring the plot onto toys with which the artist started a complex interaction resembling stage "acting" combined with an interesting narration and specific drama elements. Thus, he has achieved remarkable results.

The "Close" (2008) is about searching for a relations with persons met by chance in a night street car in Łódź. He has been working on the piece for several months. There are fragments bordering on the erotic, as well as components that practically belong to an authentic thriller. The artist's palm that is appearing occasionally turns into an element of danger and a symbol of transgression. In my opinion this video has no stylistic equivalent not only in Poland. This is why it was showed t at the Pompidou Center in 2010.

Polak has managed to develop an installation; existential in its expression ("I Am on Fire", 2012); "A Small Display Case" (2008) full of "imprisoned" plush toys - surreal, nevertheless strongly written into the context of Łódź. In 2009 "A Small Display Case" was filled in with large animal bones, while fluffy toys were hidden inside. These have been turned into a specific form of decorum of the ruined city that ceased (?) to attract one in the world glut with pseudo advertising.

The dadaistic components and borrowings from the tradition by Andrzej Partum bring Polak close to this artist who managed - as nobody else did - to "cast a spell" on the everyday reality. "The Final Countdown" has been a successful step from the comedy oriented strategy towards minimalism and conceptual irony on the verge of kitsch, referring further to pop music. The valuable feature of the oeuvre by Polak is that his drawings or small size installations move his work in two directions: childhood mythology and the latest advertising; the latter being an object of his criticism. Thus Polak has been a specific "error of culture and life". His artistic attitude stands in opposition to art commercialization and excessive aestheticism, while probing and exposing the latest artistic standards. His most recent exhibitions have been put up in the following locations: the Wymiana (Exchange) Gallery in Łódź; the (Wozownia) Coach House Gallery in Toruń; the Imaginarium Gallery in Łódź (together with Mariusz Sołtysik). When conducting an analysis of untypical drawings by Polak, one can spot formal similarities with the work by Grzegorz Przyborek. In both cases the drawing technique is an important point of reference though it seems to be merely supplementary and marginal.

I considered Wiktor Polak a significant artist as early as 2004, after he had won his graduation diploma. This is when I wrote about him for the first time. As of 2007 to day I have frequently presented his videos at the most important Polish galleries during the shows dealing with the problem of the suplement of Polish film and video in experimental cinema. In my opinion he is an outstanding artist, if not a classicist of the early 21st century.

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