The interdisciplinary artist, sculptor, performer and video artist creates installations in the public space that combine the poetics of metaphor and symbolism with a political message
Łukasz Surowiec (born 1985 in Rzeszów) takes an approach to form is to set significant social and political issues that reflect the immediate reality around us. He negates typical categories or classifications, preferring to follow his artistic intuition and meander between various media and disciplines in order to explore man and his existence within the contemporary world. He incorporates facets of nature, medicine, anatomy in his works, along with a fascination with the act of voyeurism and surveillance. He strives to bring attention to marginalised issues and members of society, even historical issues that have been buried deep in the past. His 2011 project Berlin-Birkenau consisted of transporting hundreds of birch seedlings from the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to Berlin, where it was exhibited at the KW Museum as part of the 2012 Berlin Biennale. The seedlings took root in the city, representing a "living archive" of history that has been given new life in the parks and other public spaces of Berlin. It is a symbolic gesture of bringing a painful episode of Germany's history back to the source. Visitors to the biennale were also invited to take seedlings home with them to plant them in a spot of their choice. As Julie Solovyeva writes for garagemag.com, "Rather than dwell on the past, Surowiec’s project actively engages the participating bodies through both performative and conceptual modes of reconciliation, of returning to Germany a part of its past, and endowing it with a potential for informed holistic growth".
In November 2012 he presented a talk at London's Whitechapel Gallery on the metaphorical and political significance of the tree, drawing upon his experience with the Berlin-Birkenau project. He has also brought the project to a number of schools across Germany, inviting teachers and their students to enter into a discussion on the symbolism of these trees and the significance of historical memory. As he shared in an interview with www.bz-berlin.de "If we maintain these trees and this grass, we maintain the same time the memory of the people who were murdered there".
Surowiec graduated from the Sculpture Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He went on to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He received the Best Start Point diploma in 2010, given to top students at European art schools and has presented his work at numerous solo, group exhibitions and art festivals across Poland and Germany.
His first major exhibition was Nice to Meet You, exhibited at the Agenda Nova Gallery in Kraków, which focused on the body and its representation in mass culture set against our own person visions of our bodies. He makes reference to the legacy of body art of the 1990s and the "cult of youth" propagated by society over the past century, while bringing in new ways of looking at the topic. Various fragments of different bodies are shown as video works or photograhs, showing a variety of "normal" and "abnormal" characteristics, such as beauty marks, wrinkles and flabby flesh. There is also a beaker filled with water and a few lumps of coal at the bottom, representing essentially the chemical makeup of man devoid of reference to the essential elements that define a human being as a composite entity of the physical and non-physical.
Author: Agnieszka Le Nart
Selected solo exhibitions
Skaza, Nowa Gazownia, Poznań,
Selected group exhibitions
Wrocław, BWA, Co robi malarz
Don't Even Think About It, Galeria Leto, Warsaw
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