Under cover of darkness

Paintings by Sławomir Karpowicz (November 1995).

Sławomir Karpowicz is a Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Painting of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. His paintings displayed at an exhibition held at Dominik Rostworski’s gallery are exclusively still lives and self-portraits, two classic motifs often taken up by painters throughout the history of painting.

A selection of paintings created from 1980 until 1993 are connected primarily by the common atmosphere of dark, metaphysical mystery. Piercing flashes of light, reminiscent of Baroque painting, bring out parts of objects, dishes, fruit and the artist’s face from the surrounding dark, making feisty elements and rhythms that together construct the compositional design of the paintings.

Karpowicz’s painting can be interpreted as Expressionism, held in check by the Cubist order of form, permeated by nocturnal ambience of Kraków and the peculiar stigma of the last decade of the 20th century. This does not mean, however, that Karpowicz’s paintings are manneristic or anxiety-inducing. On the contrary, despite their deep dark and saturation they contain something substantial and constructive, which they carry inside and develop its vital force. Surely, they are directed by generally infallible intuition, though they have a hidden spark of destructive nostalgia and horror of existential abyss.

The limit of the feeling of abstractness regarding realist forms and allusiveness of depicting a synthetic phenomenon observed in nature is carried out in a way which is concealed and difficult to describe. A degree of rationalism and insane intuitionism were mixed together in an aura of the supernatural and an effort to understand the impossible.

A sentimental return to the years of the first major discoveries and experiences does not make Karpowicz’s work regress, but it gives expressive proof of it – in a way which is sudden but consistent with coincidences and their consequences. Naturally, returning to origins is supposed to fill in the space which has been courageously traversed and coloured in. Places, people, moods, objects, jovial fascinations and painful wounds are preserved in memoriam yet again during a plein-air stay in Szczebrzeszyn. Hence here in Kraków it is so moving and touching to dedicate this exhibition to her who carried the gift of life and death, light and darkness, in her womb.

Stanisław Tabisz

Painter, graphic artist, scenographer, Professor of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, art critic

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