Rafał Bujnowski <br /> ARSONISTS

Rafał Bujnowski’s newest pain­tings are set in the dark of night. The artist, with his charac­teristic reticence and precision, con­structs pain­tings using the most basic means – black paint and white chalk. The enig­matic Arsonists of the title pan out within the fire they them­selves alight. Then we have the intriguing, moon­lit noc­tur­nes upon the environs of his family home and his studio – across the ponds of Graboszyce in the Małopolska district of Poland. As light hits the canvas, it draws out of its dar­kish depths a scene of remar­kable metaphorical tension.


Bujnowski’s works strike a sin­gular balance between his means and his sub­ject. Upon observing their tech­nical bril­liance, one might suspect that this par­ticular tech­nique deter­mines the sub­ject of his canvas. And yet the opposite is true – each par­ticular sub­ject calls for a special means and so in the ideal con­stel­lation of what we are dealing with, the applied tech­nique reveals a deeper level of meaning within the represen­tation. The unusual noc­tur­nes of Graboszyce are an exam­ple of such maximal synergy, as the pale light of the moon creates the space of the nigh­tly land­scape. In the same way, Bujnowski’s per­fec­tly monochrome pain­tings in black come to life before our eyes as they are illuminated by just the right angle of light.


Buj­now­ski con­sisten­tly pur­sues the idea of the black canvas, each sub­sequent work for­ming something of a cosmological credo. White light and black matter (paint) come together in an active embrace. The artist’s gesture, as plain as can be, deper­sonalized, whit­tled down to almost a purely mechanical movement, gives way to the third main aspect of his works. The full scope of the pain­ting is achieved using an absolute minimum, within the black “nearly nothing” there is “everything” to be revealed: light, space, time and history. Buj­now­ski actively evolves the traditions of pain­terly minimalism and con­cep­tualism, creating sin­gular works that are as figurative as they are abs­tract. Figurative with regard to the quotidian details, abs­tract with regard the prin­ciple guiding the world.


Along­side Bujnowski’s newest pain­tings, the exhibition presents an in situ mural created especially for the gal­lery space. The sim­plest act of drawing – chalk on a black­board – casual and imper­manent, is con­fron­ted with the destruc­tive ten­den­cies of an arsonist, whose act is just as simple, yet all the while mer­ciles­sly irrevocable. In both acts there dwells an obses­sive fascination with the executive power of human hands. Seen in this light, art comes across as a kind of destruc­tive beauty, an anti-​social escape into the world of risky fan­tasies which the artist him­self is ashamed of. And so he affords us the oppor­tunity to easily wipe out his drawings in chalk.


Rafał Bujnowski