The winner of the Grand Prix of Bielska Jesień and the nomination for the “Paszport Polityki” magazine award presents his latest paintings. His picturesque rural scenes are far from idyllic – we can sense anxiety and even terror creeping in. Is the artist playing with the viewer or is this a kind of violent ritual…?
Two years after winning the Grand Prix of the 44th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień 2019, and shortly after being nominated for the “Paszport Polityki” award in the category of Visual Arts (2020), Karol Palczak presents his latest work at the exhibition “What I Am Now Seeing”. Viewers will revisit Krzywna – the artist's hometown and unfailing source of inspiration in the region of Podkarpacie.
The exhibition is curated by Piotr Rypson.
Karol Palczak’s paintings are set in the picturesque landscape of his hometown of Krzywcza on the River San; The artist can therefore be considered an excellent follower of the Polish landscape painting movement. This conceptual cluster itself should evoke a friendly attitude among enthusiasts of Polish painting. Ultimately, there is probably nothing more familiar in art than the landscape of the home country.
So, Palczak’s paintings feature original colours that can only be found in the region at the foot of the Bieszczady Mountains. The winter colours are masterfully captured, so are the textures of the snow and ice, and even “the humidity of the air and the weight of the smoke”, to quote one of the jurors of Bielska Jesień 2019. And yet, these works invariably arouse a degree of anxiety, and I'd say something stronger than tension ... The artist seems to be asking, “What about beauty now? What about the daylight, the intensity of the heat, the cool blue of the ice? What about these beautiful clusters of words, this collection of signs crisscrossed with the ruts of meanings?
The themes of the paintings, found or arranged, turn out to be pitfalls. They draw the viewer into the natural scenery, into the masterfully directed atmosphere, so that they become witness of the events of mysterious, unclear rituals. Do we observe an innocent game or a ritual filled with violence? Is the smoke rising from a gnarled tree trunk echoed by an ancient folk tune, or is it rather a prelude to a horror film? The landscape of the rural idyll is invaded by civilization; it becomes disturbed and fraught with anxiety you can’t escape, not even to the distant and idyllic peripheries of the world.
The title of the exhibition "What I Am Now Seeing" refers to the work "Remarques on Colour" by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, to the fragment:
316. What actually is the 'world of consciousness'?--That which is in my consciousness: what I am now seeing, hearing, feeling....--And what, for example, am I now seeing? The answer to that cannot be: "Well, all that" accompanied by a sweeping gesture.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein: REMARKS ON COLOUR Edited by G.E.M. ANSCOMBE Translated by Linda L. McAlister and Margarete Schättle BASIL BLACKWELL)
Solo exhibitions of the winners of the Grand Prix of the Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień have been held at Galeria Bielska BWA, the organizer of the biennale, since 1996, as a form of the Gallery Director’s Award for the Grand Prix winner. The exhibition, which presents the artist’s latest work, is accompanied by a catalogue with reproductions of the works and critical texts about the artist’s work.
The jury of the 44th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień 2019 awarded Karol Palczak the Grand Prix for a set of three paintings: “Smoke”, “Our Great House for the Mentally Disturbed is on fire”, “Fire”. The jurors wrote in their justification, “For realistic painting with a large symbolic load, combining contemporary images of the provinces with a mood of anxiety and threat .”
The nomination for the “Paszport Polityki” award was accompanied by the following comment: “His paintings show authentic reality and freeze time more strongly than the photograph. This is a deliberate suspense.”
Karol Palczak was born in 1987 in Przemyśl. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where in 2015 he obtained a degree in the studio run by Professor Janusz Matuszewski. After graduating, he returned to his hometown of Krzywcza in the Podkarpacie region, where he lives and works, and where, as he says, he has his place on earth.
Winner of the Grand Prix of the 44th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień 2019, Galeria Bielska BWA, Bielsko-Biała (2019); winner of the Grand Prix of the first Kraków Art Salon, Palace of Art, Kraków (2018); 2nd prize in the 4th Animalis Painting Triennale 2017, MM Gallery, Chorzów (2017); awarded the Medal of the Society of Friends of Fine Arts in the exhibition of the Best Diplomas of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków 2014/2015, Palace of Arts, Kraków (2015). Nominated for the “Paszport Polityki” award in the category of Visual Arts in 2020.
Solo exhibitions: “One Fire Every Day”, Galeria Śladowski, Kraków (2019); “Baghvan”, Galeria Potencja, Kraków (2017/2018). Participant of many group exhibitions.
Dr Piotr Rypson is an art critic, art and literature historian, journalist, expert in electronic education.
He was born on 18 December, 1956 in Warsaw. He studied Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw. He defended his doctoral dissertation on Old Polish Visual Poetry at the Institute of Polish Studies of the University of Warsaw (2000). In the 1990s, he was the Chief Curator at the the Centre for Contemporary Art "Zamek Ujazdowski" Gallery and Collections in Warsaw. In 2018, he was the acting director of the National Museum in Warsaw.
He is the author of numerous books, including “C.Books and Pages. Polish Avant-Garde and Art Book in the 20th century” (2000), “Krzysztof Wodiczko. Public Art” (1995), “Non Geese. Polish Graphic Design 1919–1949” (2011),”Red Fitter. Mieczysław Berman, the Graphic Designer of Polish Communism” (2017) as well as over 150 articles, essays, texts in catalogues and reviews published in Poland and abroad.
He has curated many exhibitions and has been a member of various committees and social organizations active in the area of fine arts.
The photograph shows Piotr Rypson at a discussion panel accompanying the 44th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień 2019, where he was the chairman of the jury. In the background, we can see the painting "Independence March" by Michał Cygan (Special award), photo by Krzysztof Morcinek
Karol Palczak – “What I Am Now Seeing”
Galeria Bielska BWA, 11 June – 22 August, 2021
Guided tour of the exhibition on Friday, 11 June, 6 pm
with curator Piotr Rypson and Karol Palczak
opening: Friday, 11 June 2021, 7 pm
Watch the coverage of the finals of the 44th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień 2019, presenting Karol Palczak, the Grand Prix winner, his works and opinions by the jurors >>
Read more on the artist’s website >>