Hellish Road, Earthworms, The Nightmare, Strangling, Snake & Tit—we are showing these and other works painted in recent months, weeks and days in an exhibition of three young artists working in the Kraków district of Zabłocie. The “potency” from the title is the name of the small gallery they founded together and have operated for the last couple of years, but also an expression of a ravenous appetite: for unfeigned emotions, for painting every day and grabbing pictures by the throat.
They are linked by the place they studied—the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków—and by the city where they settled after finishing their studies. But what links them first and foremost is a zeal for exploring various painterly means of interpreting reality and their belief that its torturous dark side is decidedly more intriguing.
The paintings of Karolina Jabłońska (born 1991, graduated 2015) allude to the creative freedom of Art Brut, Neo-Expressionism and the confessional art of feminists and female modernists. Intense pink and its fleshy hue bring out the dark eroticism of the works, abounding in scenes of heightened sensitivity, ecstatic violence and disturbing hallucinations. A lyrical subject here, appearing in many of the paintings, is a contemporary young girl with huge brown eyes. Their over-sizing—whether it hides terror or excess curiosity—assumes an almost obsessive character. The sweet sultriness of Karolina’s painting draws energy from the literary threads she traces and from the immediate reaction to an over-controlled and testosterone-drenched reality.
Tomasz Kręcicki (born 1990, graduated 2015) constructs his paintings with intellectual precision, consciously manipulating conventions of depiction—from Pop Art to minimalism and pop-banalism. At the centre of the artist’s interest are objects and props so ordinary that he can effectively play on their images: to mythologize the everyday and to throw into doubt its poetic beauty eagerly exploited by artists. A series of paintings are composed as film stills displaying an unexpected, delirious warping of reality: levitating slices of salami, cigarette butts falling from lips, or monstrous fingertips. The succinctness and explicitness of these works is best captures by the title of one of them: O, fuck!
Afterimages of old instruments of torture and reminiscences of old painting appear in the works of Cyryl Polaczek (born 1989, graduated 2014). The technical meticulousness drawn from them leads to versatile, refined painterly effects. The artist penetratingly observes the substance and texture of the paint to serve as the foundation for striking, cartoon compositions made with a thin paintbrush or a nail. Clots of paint and other random imperfections of painting also become a point of departure for further works in which they form for example an illusionist effect of a swarm of insects clinging to the surface of the painting. A subcutaneous anxiety seeps from these coloristically sublime works, but the essential action of the paintings plays out on the skin itself—the thick, painterly surface.