The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) presents an exhibition of new work by a key figure among today’s young Polish artists. On view January 24 through March 2, Tomasz Kowalski is the artist’s first solo museum show in the United States and features a series of paintings inspired by Polish theater and stage design.
Tomasz Kowalski (born in 1984 in Szczebrzeszyn, Poland) is one of Poland’s most promising young artists. In 2009 he graduated from the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. His early pictures show his inspiration by renaissance painting, surrealism, suprematism, and the futuristic costumes of Oscar Schlemmer. Most importantly, however, Kowalski has developed his own original artistic language, which is constantly developing. His first paintings had a complicated structure and a complex narration, they employed a set of reworked, distinctive motifs. For the last year the artist is reducing the forms, simultaneously compounding the composition freely using his formerly developed repertoire. More and more often he employs other media, makes paper cycles, collages, modeling clay pictures, sculptures and installations.
Tomasz Kowalski is a painter who takes on the traditions of German Expressionism and geometric abstract art, Adaism and Surrealism , bringing these into a more extensive narrative inspired by the works of Thomas Pynchon and Bruno Schulz, with a contemporary approach that incorporates graphic design, illustration and street art.
Kowalski’s works present a hallucinatory vision much like that of the protagonist of Roman Polanski’s The Tenant. His subjects delve into the uncomfortable realms of illness, cleanliness, theatre and its relation to real life. His particular approach to the objects he depicts sets them in an uncanny, unsettling guise. His view of reality is full of fear and conspiracy.
Kowalski’s works have been exhibited in solo shows at Centre for Contempory Art Ujazdowskie Castle, Warsaw, in 2011; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, in 2009 and also in group shows at Kunsthalle Wien; de Appel, Amsterdam; MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; S.M.A.K. Ghent, Belgium; De Garage, Mechelen, Belgium; Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, Germany; and Ursula Blickle Foundation, Kraichtal-Unterowisheim, Germany. Tomasz Kowalski’s work is included in important public collections such as Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Frac des Pays de la Loire, Nantes, France; MOCAK, Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow.