A characteristic of Matecki’s artistic activity is a stubborn cultivation of nervousness about painting. His successive paintings and series are consistently undertaken attempts to verify the usefulness of this medium to depict the contemporary world and a test of his own condition, his capacity to maintain enthusiasm for art and painting. For over a decade, a leading motif of his work has been the combination of paint with mechanically reproduced photographic images. But each time this collision between abstract material and sampling from current visual culture assumes a somewhat different character.
The latest series of pictures, presented in the current exhibition, manifest itself first in the form of an authorial Instagram, with successive episodes appearing for over a year—a bit in the spirit of a traditional painter’s diary and a bit out of spite and the artist’s curiosity about a new medium of visual and social communication.
In Small Paintings Matecki takes on the vastness of art. A tangible symbol of its fecundity is the heavy piles of superfluous exhibition catalogs and art magazines which the artist collects from friends, galleries and institutions and then browses through in search of inspiring material for his own work. Matecki gives new life to reproductions, transforming them into puzzling, witty miniature oil paintings, with a format not exceeding a frame of a 20×20 cm square. He negotiates the flatness of print with textural experiments, appliqués and montages, parodying the meaning of the quoted works much along the lines of internet memes.
The treatments he applies generate surprising effects. Art, submitted to creative compression, recycled from catalogs or magazine reproductions, regains its vigor. Often with a single gesture, Matecki extracts the essence from the work of other artists and creates entirely new paintings exuding energy and humor, a kind of contemporary, masterly capriccio. It is an authorial monolog on art, full of brilliant impastos—about the life that spirals around art, and about entirely conscious dreaming through art. We might add that art is treated by the artist as a collection of manifestations and forms with varying degrees of liveliness and openness. In the words of Jadwiga Sawicka, “Form calls for use.”
Through all of this, Matecki’s frivolous gesture also expresses in Small Paintings another ponderous thought. It is a summons to continual activity of the imagination and reinterpretation of the pictures surrounding us. The alteration of the senses here is not just an iteration of an individual and often peculiar expression by the artist, but also an inalienable condition for maintaining our cognitive apparatus in creative form.
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of a book with reproductions of selected works from the Small Paintings series on a 1:1 scale.