Preface to the ‘Sławomir Karpowicz’ exhibition catalogue by Adam Brincken

Academy of Fine Arts Painting Gallery, 2004

The exhibition of works by Sławomir Karpowicz opens the second season of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts Painting Gallery. In a way this gallery was created by Sławek, who claimed that closeness to works of art is one of the primary elements of teaching. Displaying paintings is a means to meet the artist who as recently as two years ago was among us, who painted and taught, and who is now sorely missed. This exhibition is an appropriate moment to ‘ask the author’ about the source of the great power of his painting.

Is this about the motifs? The still lives, landscapes, self-portraits? Rather not. Karpowicz draws with force; he delineates objects, stairs and spaces, the structures of his paintings. From deep and dark tones he pulls out, with screaming colours, unexpected fragments, surprising arrangements of images as if turning everything inside out multiple times. As a result, what is hardly recognisable ceases to be real and the plane of the background – a wall or curtain, the border of wood panelling and wallpaper – turns into a landscape, stretched horizontally with pulsing light or shaky like the late ‘Japanese Gardens’ by Monet. In ‘The Geometry Lesson’ and ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ there is crowded space on a plane with rhythmically arranged figures.

When one looks closely at a single element, multiplicity is replaced by substance and gesture. Karpowicz’s painting contains both the Frenchness of Braque’s and the dark, ravenous, poetic temperament of Spanish art. Deriving inspiration from this tradition gave Sławek the power and joy of painting as well as faith in the point of painting, a faith which he himself promoted, while now his paintings do so.

Adam Brincken

Painter, draughtsman, Professor the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts

Exhibition catalogue:

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