Kajetan Obarski is an animator, photographer, musician, and self-proclaimed misanthrope. He's self-taught in all these disciplines. He reinterprets classic works of art, combines surrealism with dark humour, and his project Kiszkiloszki went viral.
Animator, fotograf, muzyk
He was born on 18 October 1987 in Wrocław. Since 2011, he has been living in Amsterdam. As an animator, Obarski cooperates with many institutions, companies and museums, both in Poland and abroad. He prefers to be called a fitter rather than an artist. His trademark is a happy skeleton with pink wings, purple skirt and deadly rod, who is a fitness model on Obarski’s Facebook profile. It is the protagonist of the project Death Fairy Tales, which is a conceptionally coherent, grotesque narration about death, presented in the form of a GIF.
Obarski officially created Kiszkiloszki in November 2015. However, some of the GIFs had been created before. Obarski explains:
At the beginning I designed graphics to accompany my texts or music. The graphics became comics and simple GIFs. Over time I realised that creating animation gives me much more pleasure than writing anything and it became my main indoctrination tool.
In his short clips Obarski revives paintings and places them in a new, modern context. He opts for the classics but does not exclude anything (maybe apart from living artists). He discovered the mystery of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, the acting talent of Saturn from Francisco Goya’s painting and the commitment to sport demonstrated in Jean-François Millet’s Potatoe Planters or the Creator from Michelangelo’s fresco. He does not refrain from destructive actions, balancing on the border of good taste and often crossing it. This way Obarski redefines art and knocks it off the pedestal. He takes paintings out of museums and transfers them to the world of imagination.
Obarski’s works reflect his life attitude to some extent. He is a declared misanthrope and pessimist. He ridicules beauty canons:
I feel especially attracted to the things that people despise, fear, are ashamed of or the things that embarrass them. It is not the question of these phenomena but of people’s attitude towards them. Death is one of them and it appears in my works very often. However, in the future I will also take more interest in other topics. I must admit that my slight contempt for the whole mankind (thus for myself as well) helps me a lot in my work and is a sort of a driving force for my cheerful activity.
Obarski’s works have been internationally acclaimed. The first Panamanian full-length animated film is being created thanks to Obarski’s cooperation with the ANIMAL independent film studio. It was based on the works of the local artist Julio Zachrisson. El Brujo was awarded at Costa Rica International Film Festival (for the best Central American project) and at Hong Kong International Film Festival ‘HAF Goes to Cannes’ in the section ‘Work-in-Progress Lab’.
Obarski treats animation as the main means of expression, but he admits that he is not its greatest fan:
I don’t watch animated films or follow many animators. If I do it, it’s only to discover a new technique, that is to get to know more. In animation, which is a field of infinite possibilities, there are no limits to development.
In order to get a few seconds of people’s attention, Obarski spends several hours, sometimes days, on one animation. He combines hard work with passion for creation, love – sometimes difficult – for art, uncontrollable irony and dark humour. When it comes to the last component, he emphasises that for him it will always be more ‘dark’ than ‘humour’. When asked what is the thing that he pays most attention to when making animations, he does not hesitate to answer:
Narration is the most important element. Like in photography. It doesn’t matter what was used to take a photo and whether the quality is high or low if the picture does not tell any story or stimulate our imagination somehow. Of course, it does not mean that I’m not interested in the visual layout, because I’m paying more and more attention to it. To sum up, I’m more of a storyteller than a visual artist.
Obarski also writes music which appears in his animations. The unposed photographs that he takes prove that he is a careful and critical observer of reality. In his pictures he shows the absurd of everyday life, exploring ideological contrast and ambiguous connotations. The essence of his more literary nature can be experienced on his blog Obarski z offu (available only in Polish), where he publishes his rather bitter existential reflections.
Apart from the projects Kiszkiloszki, Death Fairy Tales and El Brujo, Obarski creates, produces and publishes other animations, GIFs and short films in the Internet. In 2016 he took part in the collective exhibition ‘DADA tak? tak!’ in the Biała Gallery in Lublin. Despite the fact that his works often make people smile, he treats his work with seriousness. Dead seriousness.
Originally written in Polish by Agnieszka Warnke, translated by MW, April 2018.