Blue Windows

"Blue Windows" - Mariusz Mikołajek
ul. Skałeczna 5, Kraków - 06.02.2016 - 05.03.2016


"Blue Windows" - Mariusz Mikołajek

ul. Skałeczna 5, Kraków – 06.02.2016 – 05.03.2016 opening of exhibition: 05.02.2016, 5 pm

I watch, I’m alive, I paint...

Anita Bialic: Your diploma work, presented in December 1984 at the Church of the Holy Cross was considered controversial and attacking the authorities then. It was withdrawn from the official presentation of diplomas 1984/85, and a year later, at the National Exhibition of Young Painters, it was awarded the Commissioner’s Honorary Award.

Mariusz Mikołajek: So it was! My diploma was "interned" for a year! The school was ordered by the Security Services (SB) to lock my diploma works in storage. The SB was furious that I’d done my diploma in a church and that I presented works in which I referred directly to martial law, through the images of Miners, Interned, Streets, the Solidarity print, or the triptych dedicated to Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. A lot of people saw the exhibition in the church, and I collected some money for living in a can… The secret police pressured the professors to revoke my diploma. We could talk about it all night… After a year I was able to bring out the triptych The Crucifixion and to present it at the exhibition "The Road and the Truth". It was this work that received the award.

In the 21st century, can the artist be uncompromising and independent?

I think that art still gives the artist this option. But it is definitely much more difficult to maintain independence in such a commercialized world as the one we live in now.

"I try to show on the canvas what I see in my life and those of other people. This is my job. I watch, I’m alive, I paint." This view of yours from 6 years ago suggests a certain passivity, a lack of involvement in social life. And yet you are well known for the many artistic activities organized in Wrocław schools, in prison, in Monar rehab centres, in the orphanage, at the station or in the church…

"Telling a story" in an image of a man, of a living man, full of different emotions, is fascinating! Art gives life meaning and is one of the main reasons why I don’t only sit in the studio but I work on a variety of artistic activities with people from different backgrounds.

In your biographical note posted on your website, you say that "in May 1985, Mariusz Mikołajek converts, accepts the sacraments. Withdraws from active artistic life until 1991". I must admit I was very surprised by this confession. For me, faith is a very personal, almost intimate matter. I do not need to tell the whole world about it.

No doubt you’re right: faith is a deeply personal experience… In my life encountering the living God in Jesus helped me understand what freedom is. Freedom is independence, it is oxygen for the artist. I need to share my freedom with the world. My faith in art, which teaches me to look toward humanity with compassion.

You are an artist with over 30 years’ experience. You’ve created about 50 solo exhibitions and taken part in numerous group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. Which of your projects was the most important for you?

I focused mainly on large solo exhibition. There were many, and in very different places. They "pushed" my painting forward. The large space required me to make courageous decisions, and each new place inspired me to action, or even showed me the pictures I should paint. It was like that even in Browar Mieszczański in Wrocław – the place forced me to create several spacious works. I titled the exhibition "The Beginning" because it was the beginning of many of my new creative activities, which I’m currently continuing. In contrast, last year’s exhibition in the Brother Albert homeless centre, poignant and outstanding, allowed me to rediscover my painting – it took on a completely new quality in this place. Another important exhibition for me was the presentation of my work in the BWA in Wrocław in 2013. I had at my disposal the whole space of the gallery, over 1000 m²! I showed approx. 70 paintings, two installations and a video there.

Creating works from the series "All that Jeans" you chose not to use canvas and instead used denim. Where did the idea come from to use this fabric?

I’ve been painting on denim since 2009. It was then that the owner of Americanos bought my paintings for their stores. We talked about jeans and the term "denim" came up. It was the first time I had met this name. My client made the material and the hall in which denim is processed in various ways available to me. I was excited – denim was fantastically suited as a canvas, and it created new opportunities for working. And, most importantly, I find it fascinating ideologically. Denim is the most democratic of all textiles! Everyone wears it, both drunk and president.

In Wroclaw you are a recognized artist. You’ve presented your work in the BWA – Galleries of Contemporary Art, the Historical Museum, and most recently in the City Gallery. In Krakow your painting is unknown and absent…

Kraków is a beautiful place. This must change!… I hope that the people of Kraków will love the painting of Mariusz Mikołajek after his exhibition at the BB Gallery.

Graduated from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław (now the E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design), 1984. Dissertation, presented in the Church of the Holy Cross on Ostrów Tumski, was banned from display at the Diploma Exhibition of 1984/1985.

Awarded the Commissioner’s Honorary Award at the National Exhibition of Young Painters "The Way and the Truth", 1985. Award of the Year 2009, awarded by the Association of Polish Artists and Designers Wrocław for the exhibition “Always beginning” in the Browar Mieszczański.

Participation in approx. 50 solo exhibitions in Poland (incl. BWA Wrocław – Galleries of Contemporary Art, the City Museum of Wrocław, the Warsaw Archdiocese Museum), Germany, Denmark and Turkey, and 34 group exhibitions in Poland, Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium and the Vatican City.

Participation in artistic activities organized in Lower Silesia in schools, orphanages, military units, prisons, railway stations, streets, and backyards, 1992–2016.

He is the father of three daughters (Hanna, 24, studying at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław; Marianna, 30, a graduate of the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław; and Zuzanna, 35, an art historian) and four sons (Filip, 12 years old; Józef, 16; Olaf, 20; and Jan, 27, a final year student in the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław). He met his wife, Magdalena, at the “Vampire Ball” at the College of Visual Arts in Wrocław more than 40 years ago; they have been married 35 years.

He lives and works in Wrocław. For 53 years a supporter of the football team WKS Śląsk Wrocław.