No 1 (97) 2014
January - March

Transformation or about Everlasting Return

Igor Omulecki (born in 1973) was one of the recognizable figures of Polish photography as early as in the late 90's. Then his photographic style was distinguished with strong black and white contrasts, with slightly shifted forms in quest for ambiguous, ritual conditions of awareness.

Krzysztof Jurecki

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

Krzysztof Jurecki

IT IS INTERESTING that this type of photography has come back in the world of art, having a significant Polish contribution in the oeuvre by Piotr Zbierski. In the first decade of the 21st century Omulecki was associated with the "new document" of the "main stream" version; showing an ironic and satirical picture of ordinary Poles (Beautiful People) series, 1998-2001. Quite likely this has been an attempt to put into life one of the postulates of the "embarrassing art" as proposed by Łódź Kaliska. Another significant series, Poland (2002-2005) has presented an ordinary, everyday Polish life, its phoniness and backwardness, with mock-ups of vehicles, and first of all, an empty life. Flat human silhouettes, prepared animal skulls, monkey figurines, jail transposition have been meant as an evidence of the weird, changing and kaleidoscope reality, with various styles and forms being mixed up.

In the same period, working with Payam Sharifim, an Iranian and American artist, he offered a classical documentary on Polish Gypsies (Gypsies Are for Real, 2002), being an entrance into the world - quite hard to photograph within the context of portrait photography- of exaggeration (architecture) and religious aura (?)-

In the years 2007-2012 he worked on a triptych composed of three parts, entitled Family Triptych: Lucy, This and Wave Herd. Lucy (2007-2009) has been an expression of eroticism by means of irony, as well as primeval animal like instinct of "every mother".

A new family scene (marriage) starts with playing, if not a carnival. Next, a child appears as it were an unreal character from a science fiction movie (Star Wars) or from a Russian fairy tale. Lucy (2007-2009) emanating the eroticism of a pregnant woman, and color pictures, might be remembered because of two pieces. I remember well a portrait of a child that reminds the climate of the frames from the movies by Andrey Tarkovsky and Aleyander Yodorovsky.

The Wave Herd, that is the last part of the Family Triptych, seems to be the biggest artistic challenge. The messages clash there as in a feature film. Nevertheless, one can notice the continuation of the archetype that expresses energy in the form of billowy clouds, the Sun that resembles the Moon (!) among unrealistic clouds. Has this been a metaphor of God, infinity and unpredictability of human fate that also pertain to the artist and these who are close to him? It could be that this illustrates merely the power of creation, since the clouds are an artificial smoke photographed in the atelier...Picture illusion has been an important problem for Omulecki. Clouds and Sun used to be favorite topics photographed by pictorialism followers. At present, this trend has been unfairly degraded, and by the same token, the most difficult to approach.

The earlier series, This (2009-2010) has been more landscape oriented and involved considerable contrasts between individual pieces. Among this, one should mention a metaphorical portrait of an old man teaching a child which is an archetype of wisdom, passing on knowledge by a grandfather onto his grandson. In this series romantic fragments referring to the primeval life, connected to "living with nature", have been showed alternately with abstract forms.

Recently the work by Omulecki has definitely turned more romantic, symbolic and painting like, related to staging marked by subsequent events, first of all, by birth of his two children.

Most likely, the "breakthrough" has involved giving up the "new document" photography for the sake of ever more painting oriented photography. This has been connected with the influence by Andrzej Różycki and a new stage of his artistic path. The "Great Return", according to the concept by Nietzsche, has been linked to the liberation of man and the search for a happy life. The photography by Omulecki might be in this stage of development. This photography has been a living and changing matter.