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.


2018 exhibition

Przemek Matecki