Jarosław Fliciński is a visual artist and painter who also introduces photography and video into his works. He was born in 1963 in Gdańsk.
In 1982-86, he studied at the Architecture Department of the Gdańsk University of Technology, then moved to the Painting Department of the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, from which he graduated in 1991, from the workshop of Prof. Hugon Lasecki. He lives and works in Gdańsk and Warsaw.
As Anda Rottenberg wrote, Jarosław Fliciński:
references the holy canons of modernism, reduces elements of the visible world to a play of geometrised forms and primary colours.
Even though his paintings are based on abstraction and simple geometrical forms, they are directly inspired by the surrounding reality, which the artist doesn't hide and often consciously reveals. To him, abstraction is a way of expressing an isolated feeling, impression, or emotional state. Fliciński's painting has also been compared to music notation – an attempt to express typically musical rhythms. Initially, he painted mainly on canvas, but with time his paintings started to increasingly correspond with a specific setting. Fliciński not only started painting directly on walls, but also took over entire interiors, arranging the spaces in which his paintings were exhibited (e.g. the Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle in 2003). He claimed:
At some point, my paintings slid off the canvas onto walls. This happened when my painting's borders became too tight or when none of the paintings I had at a given moment corresponded with the interior's specifications, due to their scale, colour, or light.
The artist has been more and more often reaching for the language of op-art, while his painting interventions have formed visual illusions, e.g. through multiplication by reflection (e.g. at the exhibition Anabasis in Łódź in 2009).
Photography has also become an important element in Fliciński's works, effectively shifting from its documentary function to an autonomous creative medium. The artist's shows also feature video works.
Fliciński's paintings form cycles. His Jumps into the Water (1992-1994) was among the first ones. Inspired by swimming pool tiles, the series also included the typical characteristics of his art – linear surface divisions and defined rhythm. Apart from paintings, he also created photographs and video pieces for it, with figures presented in front of paintings, which showed, for instance, a man jumping into a pool. In the later series, he copied wallpaper patterns (Flowers & Stars, 1998-2000), machine produced textiles, blankets (Faites vos jeux, 1998-2000 and Far Away, 2000). His paintings are structured around simple decorative motifs – circles, ellipses (The End of Summer, 2004, for Le Guern Gallery in Warsaw), multiplied lines (Liberty – Good, More Liberty – Better; A Kiss is not Enough – CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, 2003), and stars (Star, realised in Marfa in 2002).
In the years to follow, Fliciński consequently created large format canvases with repeating motifs of lines, circles, and stripes, or sequential patterns, usually basing them on simple forms and geometric structures. The minimalist associations in his case are not so much concerned with form, but rather related to his interest in a place as a space of reception, and arranging the entire exposition space in a way that creates a dialogue with the architecture, light, and between the included paintings.
Jarosław Fliciński enters into no dispute with the tradition of his own domain because he is more engaged in the possibilities of reviving painting and finding a reliable form of communication for it, despite limitations intrinsic to a painterly convention. Indeed, formal limits imposed by the medium itself have never been a real hindrance for him – whether he will exceed the frame of the canvas towards space and paint directly on walls or specially constructed elements which compose the architecture of the exhibition or whether he will use light, sound, photography or video – we read in a press release for the artist's solo show at Le Guern Gallery in Warsaw.
In a catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Mark Ginsbourne finds a reference for an interpretation of Fliciński's painting practice in psychophysiology of perception and phenomenological reflection. He places experience, which is fundamental to this philosophy, within the sphere of visual negotiations between that which is intended by the artist and the product of the viewer's perception.
In a text for a 2011 exhibition at BWA Warsaw, where Fliciński showed another series of large format and abstract paintings, Arrangements, the curators sum up the last decade of Fliciński's painting practice, pointing to his residency in Marfa, USA, where Fliciński was invited by Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation, as its origin. The centre which Judd founded in a Texan desert is focused on works in which art and its surroundings are in a strict dialogue.
In order to understand the profound sense of his painting one can find a comparison with Judd helpful. Judd changed the modernistic sculpture by creating symmetrical constructs, striving to achieve maximal simplicity and order, and by limiting the uncontrolled elements. He was focusing on controlling the relation between the object and its surroundings. Meanwhile Fliciński’s minimalistic abstractions are like a virus disturbing such harmony. The cut structures with sharp edges emphasize the aggressive element in his canvases.
The tension between modernist order and the element of anxiety allowed within it can be observed in the project Fliciński for Warsaw Central (2011). It included visualisations announcing the artist's painting intervention in the space of Warsaw's Central railway station. The practically classical monument of Polish socialist modernism, revitalised after years of neglect, is treated here with respect (honouring its architect Arseniusz Romanowicz's solutions) but also without an exaggerated conservative caution. Broad white stripes painted on pillars between individual platforms reorganise the underground space of the station from a new perspective (across, as opposed to lengthwise), forming together a kind of a large-format riddle game (where should one stand, how should one look, in order for the piece to come together?).
Further materials can be found on the artist's website: www.flicinski.net
Selected solo exhibitions
- 1992 – March '92, Wyspa Gallery, Gdańsk, Poland;
- 1993 – Jumps Into The Water – Year 1993 – Mental States, Sfinks, Sopot, Poland;
- 1994 – Jumps Into The Water – Year 1994 – Whoever Exalts Himself Shall Be Humbled, and He Who Humbles Himself Shall Be Doomed, Baltic Sea Culture Center, Gdańsk, Poland;
- 1998 – Too Much Is Not Enough, State Gallery of Art, Sopot, Poland;
- 1999 – Go On, Wschodnia Gallery, Łódź, Poland;
- 2000 – Far Away, Foksal Gallery, Warsaw; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Maschenmode, Berlin, Germany;
- 2001 – You Look Great! I Feel Great!, Sfinks Club, Sopot, Poland;
- 2002 – Paintings, LoDo Studio, Phoenix, TX, USA; Place Your Bets, Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX, USA; To Let You Shine, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
- 2003 – Paintings, Galerie Brigitte Weiss, Zurich; Everything Is All Right, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2004 – The End of Summer, LeGuern Gallery, Warsaw, Poland; The Rest Is Up To You, Villa Arson, Nice, France;
- 2005 – Paintings, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; The Wall, Galeria dla..., Toruń, Poland;
- 2007 – Playground, CCNOA, Brussels, Belgium; Never Mind – BWA, Zamość, Poland;
- 2008 – No Matter Where It Happens, ŻAK BRANICKA, Berlin, Germany;
- 2009 – Lost in Colour – Gdańsk City Gallery, (with Nicholas Bodde), Poland;
- 2011 – Nobody Knows That For Sure, BWA Warsaw, Poland; It’s Already Tomorrow – Centro Cultural São Lourenço Portugal;
- 2012 – Yes, Indeed – Benveniste Contemporary, Madrid, Spain;
- 2014 – Black Star – CIA JG, Guimaraes, Portugal.
Selected group exhibitions
- 1987 – Sculpture – Installation – Painting, Wyspa Gallery, Granary Island, Gdańsk, Poland; Moby Dick, Sculpture 87, Wyspa Gallery, Granary Island, Gdańsk, Poland;
- 1988 – Now is Now, Wyspa Gallery, Granary Island, Gdańsk, Poland; State Now, Galeria Wschodnia, Łódź, Poland;
- 1989 – Gnosis, Wyspa Gallery, Granary Island, Gdańsk, Poland;
- 1990 – Show, Wyspa Gallery, Gdańsk, Poland; In the Meantime, ESC, Toulouse, France; Renaissance in the East, Arcade Foundation, Carcassonne, France;
- 1992 – Culture and Art 1, C-14 Gallery, Gdańsk, Poland; EXPO Gdańsk 1, Art-ON Gallery, Halmstad, Sweden;
- 1998 – At the Time of Writing, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland;
- 1999 – Public Relations, Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk, Poland; The Creeping Revolution, Foksal Gallery, Warsaw, Poland; What You See Is What You Get, Medium Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia;
- 2000 – SCENA 2000, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Between Aesthetics and Metaphysics, BWA Bielsko-Biała, Poland; The 11th Vilnius Paintings Triennial, CCA Vilnius, Lithuania;
- 2001 – In Between. Art from Poland 1945-2000, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, USA; Höhere Wesen befehlen: anders malen, Smart Project Place, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Sopot in Berlin, Polnisches Institut, Berlin, Germany;
- 2002 – Art Point, Miami Beach, FL, USA; The Forbidden City, Kokerei Hansa, Dortmund, Germany;
- 2004 – Re:Location 6 / Re(framed)locations, dis(covered)desires, Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk, Poland; Tirol Transfer, Austrian Cultural Forum, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2005 – The Graduate, Wyspa Gallery, Gdańsk, Poland; Flipside, ArtLink at Artistsspace, New York, NY, USA;
- 2006 – Poland, That’s Where?, CCA at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Ideal City – Invisible Cities, Zamość, Poland; Potsdam, Germany; Polish Paintings of The XXI Century, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2007 – Manipulations. On Economies of Deceit, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Artist in Wonderland – Pomeranian Science and Technology Park, Gdynia, Poland; From Poland?, Kasia Kay Art Project Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA;
- 2008 – Close Enough – Le Guern Gallery, Warsaw, Poland; Active Studio – Studio Gallery, Warsaw, Poland; Gleichheit – Równość – Program Gallery, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2009 – Cameo – CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Anabasis – Rituals of Homecoming – Ludwik Grohman’s Villa, Łódź, Poland; Good Night, Sleep Tight – Upload Art Project, Trento, Italy; Lost in Colour – Dialogue 1 – Gdańsk City Gallery, Poland;
- 2010 – A Better Tomorrow – Łódź Art Museum, Poland; Archipelago – Faro City Museum, Portugal;
- 2011 – Desires and Longings – Gdańsk City Gallery, Poland; New Order – Art Stations Foundation, Poznań, Poland; Plundering the Ruins of Reality, BWA Warsaw, Poland;
- 2012 – The Splendour of Textiles, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland; Spontaneous Combustion – BWA Bielsko-Biała, Poland; Alphaville – Koszyki, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2013 – Open Composition, Neoplastic Room, Łódź Art Museum, Poland; Conversation Pieces, Lonelyfingers – Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach, Germany.
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2006; Updates: November 2009; Agnieszka Sural, March 2014, transl. AM, February 2016