Carlier | Gebauer

Tomasz Kowalski

10 Sep - 10 Oct 2009

© Tomasz Kowalski
untitled, 2008
oil on canvas
61 cm x 46 cm

10.09. – 10.10.2009
Opening: 09.09. 6-9 pm

After the first presentation of his works in carlier | gebauer’s project space at the 2008 gallery weekend, we are pleased to present the first large solo exhibition of works by the young Polish painter and sculptor Tomasz Kowalski in Berlin in September 2009. carlier | gebauer will be presenting a comprehensive overview of his new works from Wednesday 9th September at 6 p.m. We would be delighted to welcome you to this vernissage. During the exhibition there will also be a film screening as well as a discussion with the artist; we shall send you a separate invitation to these events in due course.
In Tomasz Kowalski’s new works, central aspects of his earlier oeuvre come together in new groupings. Kowalski continues to call into being a world of miniatures that take on a resonance far beyond their scale; he continues to open up glimpses of a parallel universe, an inner life of things, an organic world, composed of wooden, profoundly matt intertwining colours, beneath the surface of which a “night of reason” (G.W.F.Hegel) seems to be concealed. However, in contrast to his earlier works, Kowalski now forges even further ahead in dissecting his objects by interlacing them with each other. Whilst recently his sculpture was in a sense a transposition of his paintings, it has now evolved into an opposing force, in which a fragment of hair or even a leg wells up out of wooden frames. Kowalski’s figures, frequently evoking danse macabre motifs, thus find their niche within the history of Western European painting since Pieter Brueghel, in which the dance of the dead and charades have repeatedly served as the starting point to discover new irreal worlds, a process that in the 20th century ultimately assumed dense creative form in surrealistic corpora, in Pierre Klossowski’s zestful scenarios of violence and Hans Bellmer’s strange tortured bodies.
In Kowalski’s works the violence of surrealist reconstructions is dissipated in intensified textures, materials, small figures animating the composition: with surfaces taking on depth. Whilst in the new paintings, drawings and cut-outs eerily long-limbed uniforms and hats, all in flight, disembodied and suspended, cluster together with masks, whose bodies seem to have gone astray, in the new sculptures these bodies emerge once again as disassembled, life-size wooden revenants. Kowalski’s protagonist constantly reappears, yet always remains impalpable. His works seem to follow their own laws of nature, and above all to be governed by their own sense of gravity, which appears to obey some playfully consistent dictate that nonetheless remains hidden from the viewer.
The existence of Kowalski’s worlds apparently hangs ‘on a thread’ and this sense of a dangerous abyss establishes a direct relationship between these universes and another earlier period of history, the Polish post-war avant-garde, linking them as well to the central figure in theatre in that context, Tadeusz Kantor, whose productions, paintings and performances created a whole world as the theatre of the absurd. Kowalski’s new works have a close affinity to these pieces; they seem to conjure up the stage of a still absent performance, a world that rises up slowly, stemming from its own laws. In cut-outs, paintings, sculptures and drawings, these works describe a monadologistic world of experience that springs from a dancing troop of fantastic elements.

Parallel to the exhibition at carlier | gebauer, works by Tomasz Kowalski will be shown in Künstlerhaus Bethanien, where he is currently working as an artist in residence.

Tags: Hans Bellmer, Tadeusz Kantor, Pierre Klossowski, Tomasz Kowalski