Artur Malewski creates sculptures, installations, objects, video works, performances and happenings. He was born on May 29th, 1975, in Tomaszów Mazowiecki in central Poland.
He collaborates with the Poznań-based Piekary Gallery and Zona Sztuki Aktualnej (Current Art Zone) in Łódź. In 2011, he was shortlisted for The Views – Deutsche Bank Foundation Award. He lives and works in Łódź.
Artur Malewski draws aesthetic inspiration for his art from horror films and thrillers. He also refers to ancient beliefs, occultism and the vast reserves of the dark human imagination. He touches on the themes of gender, identity, and sexuality. His realizations are filled with dark humour and the mood of the absurd. A lot of his projects feature hybrid creatures with both human and animal characteristics that provoke a reflection on the ambiguous relationship between these two kinds of beings.
Malewski’s hybrids are not only biological anomalies – they also transcend cultural boundaries. The artist constructs his bestiary by merging and combining (just like Dr. Frankenstein) images and fantasies borrowed from diverse cultures, and any other obscure inventions of a human mind.
His sculptures, usually life-sized, are made out of polyester resin, silicon, India rubber, and cement, often covered with animal leather and natural bristle. The plasticity of these materials imbues Malewski’s works with the illusion of life, just as if they were exhibits from a supernatural history museum. They are gruesome and repulsive, but at the same time fascinating.
Malewski frequently introduces the figure of a werewolf into his artworks, treating it as a symbolic representation of a social outlaw, tormented by dangerous and suppressed drives. He also tends to experiment with hypnosis and occultism.
In 2006, Malewski took part in the Binary Cities: Łódź - Warszawa. Utopia and Reality (Miasta binarne. Łódź - Warsaw. Utopia i rzeczywistość) project organized by the Manhattan Gallery in Łódź, for which he installed a Cabinet of Distorting Mirrors in a local funfair. In this way, the artist wanted to make a humorous comment on getting to know oneself from another point of view.
He had his first solo show in 2008 at the Zona Sztuki Aktualnej space in Łódź. Its puzzling title Heksakosjoiheksekontaheksafobia referred to the fear of the number 666 which symbolizes Satan, as well as – according to the artist – the fear of cognition. In the exhibition, Malewski showed two sculptures: of a blind Charles Darwin who, although nude, has his entire body covered in thick animal fur, and of Baphomet – an anti-Christian demon and a symbol of dualism with trimmed horns and an exhausted candle on top of his head instead of a torch. The artist’s intention was to present a complex, eruditely narrated relationship between these two characters. He suggested that the cognitive process always comes with an element of risk, and the only way to the truth leads through self-recognition, which may end up in an awakening of the Beast.
“Tortuously do all good things come nigh to their goal” – this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra became the title of another of Malewski’s solo shows, taking place at the Wozownia Art Gallery in Toruń (2010). It included such objects as a monstrous, fattened doe trapped in a cage (Why is this Roe Deer so Fat, and that Elephant so Thin / Co ta sarna taka gruba, a ten słoń taki chudy, 2009), an outfit of a man-wolf which the artist wore in his performances (Likantrop, 2005), a spacecraft cabin-like object, with a dog inside (Laika / Łajka, 2008), a woman-dog (The Mythical Mother of Mediterranean Culture, Transposed to the Contemporary Typography of Death / Mityczna matka kultury śródziemnomorskiej przetransponowana na współczesną typografię śmierci, 2001), and the artist’s self-portrait as a sleep-walker with a fat ratter at his feet (Happy Man, a Little Unhappy / Człowiek szczęśliwy, trochę nieszczęśliwy, 2001/2006).
Malewski prepared his next project, titled Weltschmerz, especially for the Piekary Gallery in Poznań (2010). The pain of existence mentioned in the show’s name was echoed in the distorted body of Christ from the Isenheim Altarpiece. Apart from making this religious reference, Malewski also alluded to physical handicaps and difficulties that come with them by introducing the figures of the Elephant Man (Joseph Carey Merrick) and the Tree Man (Dede Koswara from Indonesia). Merrick had his face covered in tumors that made him look like an animal, while Koswara’s body is roughened by warts resembling tree trunks or branches. Malewski inscribed their suffering in the sacral narratives, thus liberating them from the controversial stigma of abnormality. The polyester resin bas-reliefs resemble white, sterile plaster casts. They present the deformed faces of the Elephant or Tree Man, but thanks to the material in use, their corporeality became less realistic, and the marks on their bodies – less repellent.
In 2010, Malewski presented another project, Chao ab Ordo / Z chaosu porządek at the Stróżówka Gallery of the Sztuk-Pol Association in Łódź. This time, the artist pondered on the relationship between man, civilization, and nature. The show comprised two elements: a hybrid human-like figure, placed in a glass cabinet-case, and a simplified, but nevertheless precise drawing of facades of various tenement houses.
Selected solo exhibitions:
- 2008 - Heksakosjoiheksekontaheksafobia, Zona Sztuki Aktualnej, Łódź
- 2008 - Join in and Become a Zombie / Dołącz i zostań zombie, art happening, ms2, Łódź
- 2009 - Why is this Roe Deer so Fat, and that Elephant so Thin / Co ta sarna taka gruba, a ten słoń taki chudy, art happening, Łódź
- 2010 - Weltschmerz, Piekary Gallery, Poznań
- 2010 - Zoologik, Entropia Gallery, Wrocław
- 2010 - Tortuously do all good things come nigh to their goal / Krzywo zbliżają się do swego celu wszystkie rzeczy dobre, Wozownia Art Gallery, Toruń
- 2011 - Comprehensive Funeral Services. Heaven, Hell / Kompleksowe usługi pogrzebowe. Niebo, Piekło, Studio Gallery, Warsaw
- 2011 - Chao ab Ordo / Z chaosu porządek, The Stróżówka Gallery of the Sztuk-Pol Association, Łódź
Selected group exhibitions:
- 2002 - Łódź/Лодка/Boot/Lodke, Manhattan Gallery, Łódź
- 2003 - Art Supermarket 4 - Global Infatuation / Supermarket Sztuki 4 - Globalne zauroczenie, DAP and Lufcik Galleries, Warsaw
- 2003 - Martial Law / Stan wojenny, Zmiana Organizacji Ruchu, Warsaw
- 2004 - ESC, The Artists' Museum, Łódź
- 2005 - Descent from Łódź / Desant z Łodzi, Modelarnia, Gdańsk
- 2005 - Boys, Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków
- 2005 - Młódź - Identification / MłódźIdentyfikacja, The Art Propaganda Centre, Łódź; Arsenał, Poznań
- 2005 - Grünewald, Mosart, Gorzów Wielkopolski
- 2006 - Młódź - Identification / Młódź. Identyfikacja, BWA, Bielsko Biała; Wozownia, Toruń
- 2006 - Grünewald 2, Łódź Art Center, Łódź
- 2006 - Mentality, Łódź Biennale, Łódź Art Center, Łódź
- 2006 - Binary Cities. Łódź-Warsaw. Utopia and Reality / Miasta binarne. Łódź-Warszawa. Utopia czy rzeczywistość, Galeria XX1, Warsaw
- 2007 - Come on, I will Tell You a Story / Chodź opowiem ci pewną historię, Manhattan Gallery, Łódź
- 2007 - Draught / Przeciąg, Festival of Young Art, Pomorski Dukes' Castle, Szczecin
- 2008 - Facelifting, Studio Gallery, Budapest
- 2008 - The 5th Young Triennial / 5. Triennale Młodych, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko
- 2008 - T.B.C. / C.D.N., Dialogue of Four Cultures Festival, Łódź
- 2008 - Mind Antipodes / Antypody umysłu, Manhattan Gallery, Łódź
- 2009 - Epidemic. The Cultural Image of a Disease / Epidemia. Kulturowy obraz choroby, Zona Sztuki Aktualnej, Łódź
- 2009 - Heart is a Lonely Hunter / Serce to samotny myśliwy, Europe XXL Festival, Lille
- 2009 - Eve's Rib? MasculinePotencies / Żebro Ewy? Potencje męskości, Pomorski Dukes' Castle, Szczecin; Studio Gallery, Warsaw
- 2009 - Berlin Preview, Berlin
- 2009 - Room with a View / Pokój z widokiem, Wymiany (Exchange) Gallery, Łódź
- 2009 - All Creatures Great and Small / Wszystkie stworzenia duże i małe, Zachęta, Warsaw
- 2011 - The Belly of Atlas / Brzuch Atlasa, Atlas Gallery, Łódź
Transl. AM, December 2014, based on the Polish text from Culture.pl, written by Ewa Gorządek (June 2011)