A situation artist and creator of modest performances of absurdist stories and scenes in which he figures as the main protagonist. Born in 1968, he lives and works in Łódź.
Performer and author of ephemeral interventions in public sphere.
Calling his performances 'a personal theatre of events', Bodzianowski's work has much in common with the Dadaistic tradition, and evokes the mood of the Łódź Kaliska group, though lacking their moral challenge and tendency to shock. Rather, he is interested in social behaviour and attitudes - such as tolerance, openness, spontaneity- which he explores through his actions.
From 1988-90, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and from 1990-94 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He collaborated with The Foksal Gallery Foundation. In 2001, he received the Pegasus Award for 'artistic actions finding poetry in prosaic reality'. In 2003, he was nominated for the Deutsche Bank Cultural Foundation Award, and in 2004 he received the Polityka Passport Award.
Bodzianowski's performances, in which the artist interferes with reality in a delicate way, take place mostly outside gallery space. The witnesses of his performances, or rather the unaware participants, are random people who encounter the artist in the street, in shops, parks and other public places chosen by him to host the unusual scenes that distort the rhythm and routine of everyday life.
Bodzianowski does not always spread the word about his actions; sometimes they take place in a very intimate atmosphere, at the artist's home, and the only witness is his wife, who documents everything. This was the case, for example, for an action during which Bodzianowski was painted black, laying on a black couch and listening to 'black' music from a black tape recorder.
Bodzianowski has created nearly a thousand ephemeral events, which subtly undermine the established order of things, and leave the audience wondering if what they have witnessed really happened. Bodzianowski's creative goal is to use private fictions to disturb an existing reality.
The artist has created his own distinctive image: a persona with an old-fashioned moustache, often wearing a trench coat and carrying a black briefcase. He creates the impression of a harmless eccentric, who appears unexpectedly at different places, filling them with poetry and magic.
Cezary Bodzianowski was among the group of eight artists nominated for the Deutsche Bank Cultural Foundation Award in the inaugural contest, Looks in 2003. At the post-competition exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw he showed, in addition to the above-mentioned Flying Dutchman, a series of paintings A Friendly Ink which were not, however, displayed in the exhibition halls of the gallery, but in the gallery's office space. These works were not classic paintings, but substitute paintings, which presented handwritten descriptions of potential paintings, such as "A wavy, flexible mallow stem creeps up on a dark, almost black background. Small leaves, like ivy, wrap around the stem. The flower, turned to the left, balances the whole composition". Bodzianowski also prepared a special action for the presentation in the Zachęta National Gallery of Art: he recorded his conversation with the director of the gallery, during which he proposed a bribe to Agnieszka Morawińska in the form of half of the award, but only if she helped him to win it. The recording, entitled A Corruption Proposal could be heard at the exhibition, Looks.
In 2004, Cezary Bodzianowski was awarded the Polityka Passport Award for 'imagination and consistency, for a cheerful and unselfish art, helping us forget the routine of everyday life'. In the interviews, which he gave after receiving the award, he was repeatedly asked why he had given up painting and whether he was ever planning to return to it. The artist answered that he does not have to think about returning to painting, because in his work he has not given up this medium at all.
It is like painting a picture, except that it is not limited by frames, and besides, I myself am one of the forms of my images. I enter into them. (...) So I thought to myself: what would happen if I became a colour myself. If I didn't transfer the world to the painting but the painting to the world?
His Quiet Days, performed in 2003 at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsk he fulfilled his dream of an idyllic setting for a wedding and staged the nuptials with his wife, Monika Chojnicka. It was held in stylish interiors, in the sunshine, and the bride and groom wore beautiful period costumes. The ceremony was accompanied by a professional photo session and a video documentary. The photographs were later used to create a unique series of postage stamps. (published by Bielska Gallery BWA.) An independent movie was also created. Bodzianowski had an opportunity to fulfill yet another of his dreams at the Polish Painting of the 21st Century exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art (2006). The action he organized allowed him to feel like a real star who flies on a jet plane, travels by chauffeur-driven limousine and sleeps in a luxurious hotel. At the same exhibition he also showed a video entitled Purchasing of Pallets, documenting his attempts to buy pallets from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts students for a nominal penny. Perhaps it is a sign that Bodzianowski is thinking about going back to traditional painting, after all.
In 2004, the artist was invited to participate in the New Poland season in France. Bodzianowski executed a series of activities documented in a video called 4 x Paris (Pay Back). The title refers to the celebrated exhibition of 1986 4 x Paris in the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, presenting the avant-garde of French art. Bodzianowski performed his Parisian events over several days near the River Seine. He asked tourists at the Eiffel tower to photograph him, using a child's plastic camera, in the pose of a tourist; he directed a barge anchored off the coast of the Ile de la Cité Island, and played a sea battle on the stairs leading from the Quai aux Fleurs on the embankment of the river. His stay in Paris resulted in the album I Love Paris, in which the artist, alongside pictures of his performances, also posted photographs of the city that had a more personal tone.
In the same year Bodzianowski took part in the festival Terra Polska / Now Poland, organized in cooperation with the Raster Gallery at the Kulturbraurei centre in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, where he performed the action Kunstans. The viewers gathered in the gallery were notified only through information delivered by a special deputy of the artist's who arrived exactly as the show was about to start. After developing the documentation that was sent in the form of a negative film, it turned out that it was a record of the many hours that Bodzianowski had spent in a hotel room. Attached to the negative film was an invitation to Kunstans made of colourful plastic bottle caps. The artist often creates his own invitations to his performances; indeed, there are already many limited editions of these unique artefacts in the form of postage stamps, puzzles, playing cards, posters or little booklets.
Urban space is one of Bodzianowski's favourite sites for artistic actions. In 2005, in Cologne, he created a light installation In and Out at Kölnischer Kunstverein. The artist describes the idea and the history of this action as follows,The lights went on in the exhibition hall gallery each day from dusk until dawn every time someone walked down the halls of the residential building across the street. This lighting action was accompanied by two short descriptions hung on opposite walls of the gallery hall. 'It's a story about how one block, a large residential block, Mr. Wohnblock, falls in love with a small villa and winks at her, and then she winks back at him.' Bodzianowski was intrigued by the neighbouring buildings designed by the same architect - an elegant villa and a residential block. 'Here lies probably - now it's been 60-70 years - a warm and tender memory. I tried to decipher the riddle in my own way, how I feel it, having been here a few times.'
Usually, an artist like Bodzianowski does not need an artistic institution to present his art. Sometimes, however, such institutions become the focus of his performances (for example, Lisboa, 1996, A Corruption Proposal, 2003). In 2006, under the project In/At? The Centre of Attention Bodzianowski held a series of events entitled Ivy at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle. In each of the castle's rooms, he read one chapter of the novel The Castle by Franz Kafka, all of which were recorded in the form of a video document. 'It was a summary of my journey through the galleries in Poland, my attempts to examine their impenetrable tissue' - explained the artist. A four-hour film screening from this action launched the activity of the Gallery Entrance operations at the Centre for Contemporary Art.
In 2008, the artist was invited to the Berlin Biennial of Art and intended to use the services of the artistic institution to undergo maintenance, as 'a walking work of art'. Bodzianowski proposed this renovation of himself to a team of restorers at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, but his proposal was strongly rejected. However, the artist was able to carry out the project in February, 2009 at the Museum of Art in Łódź, where the artist's hand underwent maintenance. The action was recorded in the form of a documentary entitled Oxyman and showed the removal 'of brown spots from the wrist area'.
Surrealism and the absurdity of everyday life constitute Bodzianowski's vision and enable the artist to play a subtle game with the real world, leading to shifts of perspective and a sort of 'restoration' of meanings. This allows the artist to become unpredictable and endlessly intriguing, both to himself and to the audience. 'I treat art ritually. Some people say their prayers before meals, I create and carry out projects, regardless if anyone wants them or not.'
Author: Ewa Gorządek, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, April 2004.
- Świtezianka, 1996. A residential block in Łódź, the early morning hours when people were getting ready for work. The artist, dressed in a costume modelled after the uniform of his father, a sapper Lieutenant Colonel, appeared on a hydraulic lift rising in front of the residential block. Standing in a metal basket, he knocked on windows and spoke to the residents.
- Ciuciubabka, 1996. A busy street in Łódź, midday. The artist, handcuffed and wearing a leather jacket on his head, walked along a crowded pavement .
- O sole mio, 1997. In Olsztyn, Bodzianowski performed an action that was designed "to enable the Planetarium staff to shift a bit of light from the Planetarium to the Gallery of Modern Art". The artist positioned the participants of this action in such a way that, by using their mirrors, they could pass one another the light that would then travel to the gallery, where it appeared on the wall in the form of a "rabbit".
- Hey Bo, 1997. Toruń. The artist borrowed a few meteorites from the local museum, which he placed, along with a pair of house slippers, in a see-through shopping bag. He then stood still for a few hours in front of the museum entrance.
- Calibabka, 1998. Kraków, Market Square. Bodzianowski walked around for seven hours and "in cold blood stared" at particular women.
- Mushroom picking, 1999. The artist was sitting on the side of the road in a red raincoat with empty baskets and a plastic bucket in front of him. Drivers stopped to see what he had to sell.
- PE (Physical Education), 2001. Bodzianowski appeared as a substitute teacher in one of Warsaw's high schools and held a physical education class with a group of girls from the second grade.
- 1001 kinck-kancks, 2001. Kraków. There was a very long queue in front of the National Museum for the exhibition "From Monet to Gauguin". Bodzianowski was at the end of the queue, waiting patiently until he was near the ticket desk , when he asked the person at the end of the queue to take his place. In this way, he gave up his spot to a few people in the queue .
- Arena Circus, 2002. Warsaw. The artist, dressed only in black pants and sandals, trotted around an abandoned circus arena.
- Urbi et Orbi, 2003. Bodzianowski stood at attention for an hour in front of the gate to Warsaw University. He attached pieces of paper advertisements to his coat and his beret. Every five minutes he turned 45 degrees so that everyone could tear an ad that suited them the best.
- When invited to participate in the project Hidden in the Sun (2003), accompanying the Film Festival Era New Horizons in Cieszyn, Bodzianowski performed an action entitled I always stood in the shadow of the cinema. While waiting for the show to begin, the audience witnessed the festival security staff throwing the triumphant artist into the air, who, through the image he created, looked a little like a character from a movie himself. The second action, shown as a video documentary in Cieszyn, was an action entitled The Flying Dutchman (2003). This time Bodzianowski sailed across the pond in a park in Katowice while whistling the theme music from the movie Knife in the Water by Roman Polański.
Selected solo performances:
- 1996 - Manus Nigra, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland
- 1997 - Either on earth or in the air or water, Chronicle Gallery, Bytom, Poland
- 2001 - A friendly ink, Museum of Art, Łódź, Poland; Portrait of the Artist from his youth, Bielska Gallery, Bielsko-Biala, Poland
- 2002 - Fishing Project, Kunstlerhausbetanien, Berlin, Germany; Lotus, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, Poland; A evening of three tenors, BWA Zielona Góra, Poland; Zig zags, Museum of Art, Łódź, Poland; Bowler hat, Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland; Ball for singles, Bielska Gallery, Bielsko-Biała, Poland
- 2003 - About rotations, Poznan, Poland; Gliding school, Bialystok, Poland; Without a rush, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, Poland; A fake crowd, Łódź, Poland; Four Times Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Fata Morgana, BWA Łódź, Poland; Gliding school, Arsenał, Białystok; The Labyrinth Łódź, Poland; I always stood in the shadow of the cinema, Hidden in the Sun, Cieszyn, Poland; Flying Dutchman, Upper Silesia Cultural Centre, Katowice, Poland; Die Blaue Raiter macht die Brucke, Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany; Quiet Days, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko, Poland; Urbi et Orbi, Turn Gallery, Art History Institute at Warsaw University, Warsaw, Poland; Victoria, Skuc Gallery, Lubljana, Slovenia
- 2004 - Green-eyed, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko, Poland; Latopis, Łódź, PolandDodge, MPK, Łódź, Poland
- 2005 - Ein und Aus / In and Out, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany; Zum...Wieder Gedachtnis, Neue Kunst Halle, St. Gallen, Switzerland
- 2006 - Charlestone, Broadway 1602, New York, New York, USA; Mai Amor, Blu Centre, Bolzano, Italy; Żywią i bronią, Łódź; Sorcha Dallas, Polish Cultural Institute, Glasgow, Scotland - Indiscretion nr 157, Łódź, Poland
- 2007 - Zero, Milano, Italy; Numbers and Dates, Dusseldorf, Germany; It will be green in the summer, The Museum of Art, Łódź, Poland; Samo-chód (Auto-mobile), Łódź, Poland
- 2008 - Mushrooms NU, Łódź, Poland; Parking, Łódź, Poland
- 2009 - Sababa, Centre for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Selected Group Exhibitions:
- 2000 - Biurokracja, Foksal Gallery, Warsaw
- 2001 - Disillusion, Secession, Vienna
- 2002 - Polacos - New Art from Poland, La Capella, Barcelona
- 2003 -Ukryte w słońcu, Cieszyn; Spojrzenia, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw; Sztuka współczesna dla wszystkich dzieci, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw
- 2004 - Terra Polska, Kulturbrauerei, Berlin; De Ma Fenêtre, SPolish Season in France, Paris
- 2005 - B Sharp, Haubrokshows, Berlin; Schmerz, Tanz Quartier, Vienna
- 2006 - W samym centrum uwagi (akcja Bluszcz), CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Koniec egzotycznej podróży, Foksal Gallery Foundation Warsaw; Miasta binarne: Łódź - Warszawa, Łódź, Warszawa; Polish Painting of XXI century, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw
- 2007 - Il teatro della vita, Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento; Porządki urojone, Museum of Art, Łódź; The World as A Stage, Tate Modern, Londyn
- 2008 - 5th Berlin Biennial, Berlin; J'ai perdu la fin, Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Germany
- 2011 - Warpechowski / Konieczny / Uklański / Bodzianowski / Dawicki, Museum of Art,Łódź; The Other Tradition, Wiels, Brussels; The Power of Fantasy, BOZAR, Brussels