Jakub Julian Ziolkowski
b. 1980, Zamosc, Poland
The Polish-born painter Jakub Julian Ziolkowski turns the painted canvas into a laboratory, in which myriad interrelated motifs create phantasmagorical narratives. The paintings encompass a swarm of references, which cover intense periods of art history and popular culture, such as the renaissance and baroque painting, Hieronymous Bosh’s grotesque figures and visions, Picasso, Surrealism, German Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit, Francis Bacon, graphic novels and street art. Ziolkowski transforms this archeological take on visual imagery into an idiosyncratic and boyishly humorous personal universe, which is filled with kaleidoscopic detail, almost magical images of horror and sexual perversity. In The Great Battle Under the Table, two fictitious armies, one dressed up to resemble Napoleons soldiers, fight in a scenario that may be a child’s playground on the floor, or an imaginary stage. Hundreds of microscopic men run about under a draped red carpet. They interact with coffins of dead comrades, giant cockroaches and disturbing insect-like monsters. With its rough brushstrokes, the painting is not a conceptual take on what painting might be, but an expressive play with the illusiveness of reality and its imaginative forces.