Artworks—rare, valuable, and desired—often fall victim to theft, appropriation or wartime losses. But just as often artistic heritage is the subject of ideological and political appropriation. These appropriations interest Marcin Maciejowski, a distinguished painter who navigates through Polish environs with great intuition and passion. In his latest works the artist recovers Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man, stolen by the Nazis, but he also polemicizes with the conservative, statist model of “national heritage and sport” which now forms part of Poland’s ministry of culture. For Maciejowski, the Old Masters are part of modernity, and he also interprets historical paintings or the Jagiellonian tapestries in this contemporary manner. He restores them to modern sensitivity and treats them as metaphors for current topics and political disputes.
Maciejowski’s other great theme is the image of the modern woman. His gallery of bold, charismatic figures includes Eve plucking fruit from the apple tree in paradise, contemporary women curators, and also participants in the recent women’s strike fighting for their rights. Maciejowski’s painting is realistic in the deepest sense of the word, consisting of creating images that speak in our voices, take part in ongoing social changes, and convey their everyday atmosphere.