The iconography of everyday life and its invisible surroundings furnish the ideas and the themes for the work of Andrzej Roszczak, who was born in 1974 in Krotoszyn and now lives in Warsaw. After studying painting at the University of Posen and subsequently focusing on conceptual works with objects of various materials, Roszczak has now turned to painting as his primary medium of expression.


Roszczak has established his pictures somewhere between Pop Art and hyperrealism. He uses a visual language whose possibilities are still not (even today) exhausted, and which he has re-interpreted in terms of black and white with oils on canvas. Images from the collective memory, such as the frontal portrait of Brigitte Bardot, which he transformed into a painting entitled The Most Expensive Portrait in The World, leave a lasting impression on the viewer – first by making him recognise the image again and then by making him recognise it as an icon. Unlike its status in Pop Art, which is working with contemporary subjects at the time of its creation, the portrait of Bardot is for today’s viewer an anachronism. Roszczak plays with this temporal change of perspective and so establishes a new way of reading his own interpretation of Pop Art. His reconsideration of the past, however goes beyond this, for the thus turns front pages of old newspapers and magazines, photographs of fashion and architecture of the 1960s into art. He accords them a higher status, elevating them to symbols radiating a patina of nostalgia.


Roszczak’s dialogue with photography is not confident to using photographs as the starting point for many of his works, but may also be seen in his ambition to capture the fugitive moment. In two of his most recent works, untitled (Veruschka by Richard Avedon), he uses fashion shots of the famous photographer in which the model moves and jumps as if she were being filmed. She was thereby photographed – and only later painted by Roszczak. He captures the fleetingness of the moment and preserves it: “The idea of capturing the motion – an unexpected moment – in photos is very interesting for me. It forces me to translate it into language of painting. It results in both an artistic process and an outburst of spontaneity.” This translation of movement appears in an even more extreme form in the series of old racing cars (after Rainer Schlegelmilch photography) racing at full throttle down a track or manoeuvering round a tight curve.


Equally dynamic in its composition is the architecture of utopian buildings in his works such as untitled (From Utopian Projects – Guy Dessauges) or of urban landscapes as in untitled (The Bridge by David Bradford), even though here the artist draws upon static images.


Roszczak’s pictures play with semi-darkness in order to create stark contrasts, which are sometimes reminiscent of old pictures or motifs from advertising. Through reduced expressive values, in both the use of colour and in composition, he creates with fuzzy grey tones very straightforward images. Depictions seen as if through a diffuser lens. It is here that Roszczak diverges from hyperrealism: far from wanting to imitate reality, his images create an illusion. The illusion of painting.*






The title of the exhibition, "In dark woods", indicates moods or atmospheres painted in many colours, yet then again strikingly marked by dark colours and by strong contrasts. Light in these works shines out like a flash between trees, and themes and motifs emerge suddenly like a blaze of light falling on the canvases, as if they came forth out of a mysterious forest of memories and phantasms. Using all the means of an exacting technique, the young artists, trained in the tradition-conscious Polish art academies, seek to challenge our senses with sometimes fairytale-like images.






The 17th exhibition in the series HangART-7 is dedicated to our neighbouring country Poland, a country that, though it is really quite near to us, probably few of us could say we know well. Numerous political conflicts and the sudden death of a controversial President in an aeroplane crash made 2009 and 2010 notable years. For events such as these there is considerable international press coverage. But otherwise? Yet since 1989 Poland has been working intensely at its political and economic reorientation, and careful observation will reveal the rapid pace of changes and re-structuring that has likewise been taking place in the social fields of culture and art. The resistance against the regime in the 1980s ended with fundamental changes also in cultural policy. Museums were re-staffed and private art galleries and foundations gradually assumed the work of re-definition and internationalization in the visual arts. The Zachęta National Gallery and the Foksal Art Gallery, established in 1966, may be mentioned as two representative examples of many initiatives in Poland, ranging from Danzig and Posen to Krakow. 

Possessing a rich cultural history and an ambitious young generation, Poland has in recent years produced works of art that have commanded our attention for some time. Seen here and now, the take-off of Polish painting in the 1990s is the most striking. It is bound up with the internationally known artists Adam Adach, Marcin Maciejowski and Wilhelm Sasnal (and many others), members of a generation born in the early 1970s who have been explicitly relevant for the young artists introduced here. These artists strike mostly soft and gentle notes, which here and there could remind one of the music of probably the most popular Polish artist, Frédéric Chopin. They sound the note of a romantically tinted pain of loss, a loss that engenders the need for change, and changes that the young generation of Polish artists must see as their challenges. For this process of change will not be accompanied by the touching music of Chopin. It will rather be the sounds of contemporary cities and living conditions, interspersed with political rhetoric, hype and the pulsation of incited longings. Religion, state doctrine and patriotism are only part of a noisy stage set, behind which lies the barren land of meagre possibilities. The cold wind that is currently driving us is of another kind. For many young Poles it is the lot of labour migration and social problems.


The artists gathered together in this exhibition have faced these challenges in an impressive way and show in their works, in the most diverse manner, how they are seeking new bearings and how their art is enabling new perceptions. Let us give them the attention they deserve. It could also become a journey to ourselves.




* After exhibition catalouge and source: