The work of Honza Zamojski addresses problems of the perception of the world and relations between the individual and reality in the spirit of Gombrowicz's Cosmos. The artist creates his own unique cosmos in which pencil drawings, visual poetry and the conceptual qualities of the artbook interface with sculptural objects and installations, creating a coherent, indivisible whole. Zamojski explores in this way the connections between the world contained in the framework of the book and the architectural space of the exhibition. The simple sketch and written word and the graphic structures of the published book frequently serve as a point of entry for the construction of visual and poetic narratives, not failing to include the absurd, self-mockery and humor and, at times, also the deadly serious and troubling. Zamojski manages in this way to produce an updated and personalized program of Czech Poetism, which, in the 1920s, was the foundation of the Czech avant-garde and which considered the visual qualities of books, pop culture and game strategy as the quintessence of the new art and new poetry, born into ‘a world that laughs’ (Svet, ktery se smeje).
The actual word ‘Poetism’ appears frequently in the works of Zamojski, which even more clearly underscores his striving for ‘the poetisming of the world’, but under entirely new conditions and with a new cosmology related to the culture of the Internet or the reality of corporate slogans and aspirations to rationalize labour. Zamojski, posing questions about the place of the artist in the world, creates grotesque installations in which he frequently conducts a dialogue with the history of philosophy and the history of art and pop culture, the central role in which is most often played by him as creator and simultaneously as an omniscient narrator. The objects created by him in wood or wire take on anthropomorphic forms and become his alter ego: a wire Don Quixote, a perverse Pinocchio or a live Abakan. All of these embodiments have, at first glance, a satirical character and the form of a pencil sketch scaled up into three-dimensional sculpture. These embodiments show the artist as lost in the reality surrounding him, which he seeks to comprehend and explain. Zamojski expresses in this way his own struggles with the process of creation and also grapples with the essence of artistic and poetic creativity in a world that is an arena of visual disharmony and striving towards corporate rationalization. His installations are filled with symbolism and they often take on the form of theatrical scenography, a sort of theatrum mundi, in which short dramatic forms – read and observed, but not played out – magnify, especially in his later works, a certain unrest hidden within the self-deprecating message of his multilayered and multiconceptual wrestling with ‘Poetism’.
Self-Portrait with a Fish in the Foksal Gallery and Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York (2013)
For the project ‘Self-Portrait with Fish’ displayed in the Foksal Gallery and the Andrew Kreps Gallery, an artbook was created entitled Fishing with John and also made into a large-scale installation, showing the artist as Pinocchio fishing with his elongated nose and genitalia. In this fashion, he expanded across the gallery the previously two-dimensional sketches composed of simple lines and circles taking on the form of an architectural object. This sculpture was made of wood and was drawn entirely in pencil, which more clearly showed the palpable transformation of a pencil drawing into a sculpture of gigantic proportions. The perverse tone of the installation is placed in confrontation with the content of the artbook which to a large extent consisted of a printed collection of photos drawn from the Internet of girls posing with fish. Zamojski even created an Internet site, where he displayed a few hundred such photos collected over the years. The visual message of the artbook was further enriched by texts about fishing and the symbolism of the fish, as well as pornographic and necrophilic fantasies of Rene Magritte regarding his mother and the famous image of the ‘anti-siren’ (‘L’Invention Collective’). Self-Portrait with a Fish reflected to equal degrees the hobbyist, erotic and surrealist aspects of fishing (or, more precisely, hooking) in the context of the cultural aspects of the relations of ‘men vs. women-fish’, further enriched by reference to the famous TV fishing series of John Lurie from 1991. Zamojski uncovered in this manner the world of male fantasies as well as his own and also the world of male lies exposed in specific sociological research into the essence of male views and the prevalence of exposing women to such views. In the space of the gallery, the viewer expressly enters into the world of the drawing and the structure of the artbook and becomes a part thereof.
Honza Zamojski and Robert Maciejuk’s Above and Below at the Zachęta Gallery (2013)
In the exhibition Above and Below, Zamojski and his friend Robert Maciejuk created a joint project consisting of a labyrinth of drawings, paintings and three-dimensional objects extending from that which is rational, likely and true to that which is emotional, religious and fictional. There appeared pencil sketches that developed into three-dimensional objects recalling installations from the earlier exhibit Fishing with John. The exhibit was also accompanied by an artbook entitled Cosmos and Cosmos and Surroundings containing texts by Andrzej Kostołowski focused upon four key themes: work, man, earth and cosmos, themes which Zamojski would build upon in his subsequent projects.
Four Eggs Theory at the Futura Gallery (2015)
The project Four Eggs Theory, like the two preceding, consisted of an artbook and an installation which complemented each other both in content and visual perception. The artist presented a clear transformation of the graphics in the artbook into a three-dimensional exhibit in the Futura Gallery in Warsaw’s Praga district. In this project, Zamojski concentrated to an even greater degree on universal study of the creative process. In one of the diagrams of Four Eggs Theory, showed an image of the solar system and the relationship of the earth to the sun’s orbit juxtaposing it with an identical image showing the relationship of the artist to his work. The artist appears in the place of Earth and the sun is in the place of artistic practice. In this construct, the artist is thus not located at the center of creative practice, just as Earth is not at the center of the universe. The artist is thus just a small point encircling the center which is a product of his artistic work. Zamojski’s work circles around such concepts as development, uncertainty, curiosity, boredom, disappointment, fulfillment and satisfaction. This can be sensed in the later reception of his work which, in reality, has the same meaning for the world as the sun has for the millions of galaxies, i.e. very little.
Zamojski seems to say that the responsibility for explaining what he creates, how he creates and why he creates has been removed from the artist. Similarly, the responsibility for explaining the universe has been taken from the philosophers. Art today is explained by curators and critics and the universe by scientists. Four Eggs Theory appears to be a perverse return to belief in the explanation of the process of creation by the artist. In the form of diagrams, it appears as follows: Intuition and Inspiration presented in the form of a halved egg emerge from the chaos of thought (Thinking Zone) which, through the effect of rationalization and creation, become ideas and items. The shape of an egg forms from the chaos initiating the process of creation and that rationalized process is then realized in the work and form of a completed project. All this recalls the ancient and medieval cosmological visions emerging from chaos and moving through an egg-shaped form to creative realization.
Series of exhibits Landscape of Your Life (2016) and Love Letter (2017)
The series of exhibits from the year 2016 created by Zamojski under the rubric Landscape of Your Life consists of A-NA-TO-MY at the BWA Gallery in Zielona Góra, Ghostism in the Osmos New York gallery and Trojan Home at Turf Projects in Croydon. This trilogy, however, was bereft of the light humor that characterized his earlier presentations and, to a greater extent, addressed the questions of fear, war and a sense of the end approaching, intensifying feelings of unease. The first two exhibits were played out as if in the space of a theater stage, an impression created by the presence in the center of a kind of curtain reminiscent of a bedsheet with cutout openings for eyes. In Zamojski’s exhibits, this object suggested the titular figure of a ghost or rather ‘ghostism’ – a certain farcical monstrosity which is the opposite of spiritualism, i.e. spirituality understood as a heightened state of metaphysical sensations. In addition, in the space of A-NA-TO-MY there appeared poetic slogans and also a theater stage upon which objects appeared: shoes and a headless human form – a ‘living headless statue’ – played by an actor throughout the entire term of the exhibit. That form was a figure holding a tablet which evokes simultaneously a type of live advertising in which corporations use people to hold advertisements and, on the other hand, the famous Abakans, which symbolize the world after destruction. In Ghostism, we see in turn a jacket inspired by the objects of Joseph Beuys, but on a hanger suspended from the nose of a Pinocchio, a series of photos showing structures built of magnets recalling objects of the constructivists and photos of Picasso’s sculptures. This installation seeks to show under the rubric of ghostism a perverse ‘-ism’ characteristic of Zamojski, mocking not only spiritualism, but also the social and constructivist utopias of the avantgarde. The final installation of the trilogy, Trojan Home, for its part, displays a landscape after battle and artificial legs made of wire, wearing Adidas and laid out in various positions in a space consisting of vertical and horizontals inside the layout of an apartment. The phrase ‘DEAR FEAR THE END IS NEAR’, appearing on a pane of glass, expresses a fear of what is to come. It simultaneously constitutes the opening lines of a new artbook entitled Love Letter.
Love Letter accompanies the three above-mentioned exhibits from the series Landscape of Your Life in the same way that Fishing with John complemented the exhibit at the Foksal Gallery, Cosmos and Cosmos and Surroundings the exhibit at the Zachęta and Four Eggs Theory the presentation at the Futura Gallery. This book takes on the majority of the problems raised by the ‘paratheatrical’ trilogy and also serves as a kind of libretto written in typography and colors characteristic of Zamojski, using three basic colors – red, yellow and blue – and three non-colors – black, white and gray. The graphic layout made up of letters is a deliberate move away from ‘bookness’ and from that which defines a book. Zamojski’s poem bears certain characteristics of op-art and it also can be read from bottom to top, from left to right and vice versa, from the end to the beginning and from the beginning to the end. It is a letter filled with disquiet and a sense of impending doom.
Originally written in Polish by Przemysław Strożek, January 2018, translated by Yale Reisner, Feburary 2018