Kozera’s painting style could be described as surreal existentialism, symbolism charged with eroticism, or a man’s entanglement in life, with all its painful and pleasant consequences of existence. Uncanny images show human body, which at the same time is a robe. In his canvases, spirituality and corporeality coexist organically.
Grzegorz Kozera (b.1983) received an MA in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2011, where he studied in the workshop of Professor Leon Tarasewicz and Paweł Susid, PhD. In 2003-2008, he studied Art History at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. He lives and works in Warsaw.
Agnieszka Żechowska reviewed in Exit magazine:
Clothes are the subject of a number of pictures by the artist; framed, abstracted from the context elements of female or male wardrobe: bras, shirts, pants. Some pictures approach these with hyper real accuracy, while in others they exist as elements of a surreal, poetic vision. In his latest pieces, clothes have become an inspiration and pretext to paint abstract compositions.
In his paintings and paper collages, Kozera often refers to the national heritage. Having graduated from Art History, the artist is particularly sensitive to the tradition that preceded him – on one hand engaging in a stylistic game with the past, and on the other – in a dialogue with the great masters. He is especially interested in Polish avant-garde authors and their heirs, for instance artists associated with the Krzywe Koło Gallery.
At the exhibition The Power of Abstraction, presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Minsk in 2015, the artist showed, among others, paintings referring to the oeuvre of Jan Lebenstein, Henryk Stażewski, and Jan Lenica. Kozera transforms and reinterprets art of the recognised artists in an innovative and witty way, while paying a tribute to them. In Hommage a Henryk Stażewski, comprising parts of food containers and oilcloth, he makes a reference to geometrical coloured reliefs of the master of Polish avant-garde. Meanwhile, in Hommage a Jan Lebenstein, the artist used an old stained tablecloth to create a contemporary version of the ‘axis figure,’ corresponding with Lebenstein’s most famous pieces.
‘Painter Grzegorz Kozera chews on everything that catches his attention or crosses his path’ – Ryszard Grzyb wrote in a catalogue for Kozera’s solo exhibition at the aTAK Gallery, which the artist was associated with for several years. Indeed, Kozera uses all kinds of printed materials – theatre tickets, reprodutions, invitations, advertisements, to create complex narratives representing a subjective view of the world. Some of his works have an archival character, based in a specific place and time, while others resemble visual puzzles which require scrutiny and an interpretative key in order to be deciphered.
On the occasion of his exhibition at the aTAK Gallery, the artist prepared, among others, a series of collages celebrating the first decade of the venue’s activity. The works were based on materials related to history of the gallery, such as reproductions of works from exhibition catalogues for group and solo shows, invitations, and posters.
The chronologically ordered documentation presents works by several dozen artists in a panoramic view, bound by an original, coherent vision. In Grzegorz Kozera’s eyes, ten years, which appears to go by by in a moment, makes one look at the gallery’s history as a time which by no means has been lost – the curator Jerzy Wojciechowski wrote about the artist’s collages.
Yet another series was The Conspiracy of Illustrations, which also comprised collages, this time referring to Janusz Jaremowicz’s publication Z galerii sensów (From the Gallery of Senses), published by aTAK. The small-format works were composed out of paintings reproduced in the book, which Kozera was not able to escape.
The latest outdoor installation by Kozera, presented at the Narracje festival in Gdańsk, referred to literature. In similar fashion to other historical and stylistic references to visual arts, the piece took form of a literary mystification on Jean Genet. The artist invited the audience to imagine that Genet made a trip to Gdańsk. ‘Genet was quite a mystificator. Kozera follows his suit, fabricating traces of the author’s presence in Biskupia Górka. The route of Genet’s hypothetical pilgrimage is marked by artificial graveyard flowers which the artist diligently collected from different necropolises’ – Stach Szabłowski, the curator of Narracje, wrote.
Grzegorz Kozera’s oeuvre is one hand focused on oneself, on experiencing the events of the passing time, notated by collages (…), and on the other on the fascination with the perception of another man, experiencing his presence, as if he was right there. If Grzegorz Kozera is looking for inspiration in the past, it is by no means in the figurative tradition, but in Dadaism, whose way of thinking is especially expressed in small collages’ – Wojciech Skrodzki wrote about Kozera’s artistic practice on the occasion of his exhibition with Edward Narkiewicz and Alex Urso at the Monopol Gallery in Warsaw (2016).
Recently, the artist attaches increasing importance to collage and creates most of his works using that technique. However, according to his own statements, painting remains the most important form of expression for him, even if he steps away from its classical form.
‘Even if I do away with its traditional tools, such as: paint, brushes or canvas, its typical means of expression: composition, space, and especially colour, are still incredibly important to me. I try not to drift away from reality too much, putting certain gestures above purely formal, pictorial means. For that reason, I often use banal objects of everyday use, noticing a great, visual potential in them’ – Kozera says.
- 2016 – DADA tak? Tak! (DADA yes? yes!), Biała Gallery, Lublin
2016 – 8th Narracje Festival, Królestwo 60,8 m n.p.m. (Kingdom 60.8 m a.s.l.), Biskupia Górka, Gdańsk
2016 – W końcu (At Last) (solo show), aTAK Gallery, Warsaw
2016 – Wiosna (Springtime), Monopol Gallery, Warsaw
2016 – Entre sistemas. Pintura polaca contemporánea en la colección de Krzysztof Musiał, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Francisco Hernández, Vélez-Málaga
- 2015 – 42nd ‘Bielska Jesień’ Painting Biennial 2015 - Galeria Bielska BWA, Bielsko-Biała
2015 – Krzywy Kwadrat (Crooked Square) (solo show), Promocyjna Gallery, Warsaw
2015 – Potęga abstrakcji (The Power of Abstraction), Museum of Modern Art, Minsk
2015 – Palindrom (Palindrome), National Gallery of Art, Sopot
2015 – Miradas: Arte Polaco Actual, Palacio Horcasitas, Balmaseda, País Vasco
2015 – Zapisy przemian. Nasz wybór z kolekcji Krzysztofa Musiała (Records of Changes. Polish Art from Krzysztof Musiał Collection), Płock Art Gallery
- 2014 – DADAskalia (solo show), WizytTUjąca Gallery, Warsaw
2014 – Trochę dziwny (A Little Strange) (solo show), Bardzo Biała Gallery,Warsaw
2014 – City – Inflammatory State – SURVIVAL Art Review, Wrocław
2014 – Mowa nienawiści. Wykluczam wykluczenie (Hate Speech: I Exclude Exclusion), Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
2014 – Surrealism and beyond, Magazzini dell’Arte Contemporanea, Trapani
- 2013 – Parasol w Prosektorium (Umbrella in the Dissecting Room), Salon Akademii, Warsaw
Awards and Distinctions:
Art grant from the Office of the Capital City of Warsaw, 2016, 2014
Honorary mention at the 42nd ‘Bielska Jesień’ Painting Biennial 2015 – Bielska Gallery BWA, Bielsko-Biała, 2015
3rd Prize and honorary mention from the magazine Exit: New Art in Poland at the 21st National Review of Young Painting ‘Promocje,’ Galeria Sztuki, Legnica, 2011
Author: Michał Jachuła, luty 2017, transl. Anna Micińska