The gallery is pleased to present NOT OBVIOUS by Polish artist Marcin Maciejowski. Maciejowski’s paintings focus on the light and shade in scenes from everyday life and current affairs and his eye almost always points towards the political. Maciejowski’s paintings alert us to his concerns, be they the rise of nationalism, the ironies of the contemporary art market or the hierarchy of the peoples and artists within it. He records rather than invents, but the flatness of his pared down aesthetic allows space for us to finish his stories and tell our own tales.
For this, his first solo exhibition at gallery, Maciejowski takes archival images from newspapers and publications as his source material. From recent news items to vintage court cases, Maciejowski’s subject matter is scattered across the decades, past and present juxtaposed under his carefully balanced editorial control.
Paul McCartney, London, 2008 and Roman Polanski, Los Angeles, 1977 are taken from press photographs of these famous court cases. In both instances Maciejowski has decided to leave the figures featureless, dehumanised and blank, thus removing them from the situation, removing the facts. So what at first appears to be documentary, through Maciejowski’s sparse brushwork becomes less a representation of an event and more a feeling, a clue, a sense of something having occurred, somewhere.
Cupboard is a snapshot of a domestic interior inspired by a brochure about the workers' protests that took place in Poznan in 1956. The cupboard door hangs open in disarray as if someone left in a hurry. And this is the kind of story that Maciejowski likes to tell, a sort of open ended criticism, where his paintings highlight moments and occurrences and then leave space for the viewer to draw their own conclusions. But also for Maciejowski to paint is to self medicate, to find a way of dealing with his own uncertainties and inner confusion.
Marcin has consistently painted women, from femme fatales to artist’s wives, as faceless figures in his film stills series, to intimate groups of women preparing to go out. Uncover (Dorota) is a portrait of a girl covering her face with her hands in a spontaneous gesture, like a photograph from a party you didn’t attend. But Maciejowski denies us the expectation that the painting’s title provokes and the revelation of her face can only be fulfilled in our imagination.