Konrad Maciejewicz creates collages on the borders of painting and photography, as well as drawings on paper. He also produces objects and installations through which he explores the language of collage. He was born in 1980 in Lubartów.
Visual artist, author of collages bordering on painting and photography.
Maciejewicz is graduated from the Art Department of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. He was a laureate of the Polish edition of the Henkel Art Award art competition (2013), and the recipient of the award of the Mayor of the City of Bielsko-Biała Award at the 41st Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień (2013). He lives and works in Warsaw.
The artist makes use of elements from various areas of historical legacy and contemporary iconography. He works mostly in collage, creating dark visual narratives, for which he uses photographs from old illustrated magazines. Maciejewicz often touches on subjects related to death and the beginning of a new life, motifs that are inscribed in the very medium of collage. He cuts up the cultural matter, and fragments human body, objects, and architecture, in order to reassemble them into a new quality. He manipulates “innocent” images, entirely transforming their identity. His search for elements that will be appropriate for building his works and the operations he carries out on the images constitute the artist's personal journey into the world of visual culture.
Maciejewicz debuted in 2011 with a solo exhibition at the Biała Gallery in Lublin, showing his cycle Azyl (Asylum, 2010), as well as his later works from the series Afrodit (2012), which were made out of tiny pieces of paper resembling detailed paint marks on a canvas.
Maciejewicz, just like the historical painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, uses individual elements to construct larger structures, creating, similarly to the sixteenth-century artist, a final product that borders on figurativeness and abstraction. The similarity also lies in the relationship between individual elements and the whole. The fragments reflect the entire form not just in terms of iconography, but also substance.
– wrote Piotr Pękala about the artist's works.
His next works, displayed at the later exhibitions, such as Przemień mnie (Transform Me), Zachęta Project Room (2012) or Cinderella (2014) at the Arsenał Gallery in Białystok, were based on, contrary to the earlier cycles, large areas of colour.
Maciejewicz’s works evoke a mixture of curiosity and terror – an effect characteristic of horror films. The viewer descends to increasingly deeper levels of reading: from a general impression of the decorative nature of the whole image, through to painstaking discoveries of metaphors, narratives, and messages hidden in the thick folds of compositions. – the curator Magda Kardasz wrote in the context of the Zachęta exhibition. According to her, the artist's works can be interpreted using existential categories – as a metaphor for the terror of an individual alienated from the world, or an alienated body.
At the Zachęta Project Room, his paper collages were juxtaposed with light boxes. Serving as the starting point for his colourful collage compositions were old advertisement photographs reproduced in magazines. The images, archaic and completely incongruent with the modern understanding of advertising, evoke anxiety and give an impression of a theatrical artificiality. Konrad Maciejewicz explained that the titular “transformation” is twofold:
The material I use – photographs of clothes, dishes from a food corner, gains living features and imitates human body. This body is, however, decaying, it's weak, while the desire to transform is laced with fear. This desire therefore brings unwanted results – it only reveals the traumatic and the crippled. The socialist advertisements also begin to function outside of time, creating a world parallel to the collages, where the wigs on models' heads and kitsch fabrics become tools of oppression.
– the artist said.
The exhibition Cinderella at the Białystok's Arsenał was the first time Maciejewicz reached for online pictures, without ceasing, however, to use reproductions from old illustrated magazines. It was also the first time he introduced pornography, comparing it to fairy tales. In his opinion, the essence of pornography, as an adults' substitute for fairy tales, is escape to an imaginary world. The figure of Cinderella, which is at the centre of the entire exhibition, was represented by a character from online porn sites. Through the selection of images combined into intricate constellations, the artist conducts a dialogue with the ephemeral nature of photography – when extracted from their original context, images begin to signify something else.
Maciejewicz distances himself from his materials whether it is old photographs from 1970s and 80s or newer images. He plays with the nostalgic character and identity of photographs. Even though his works are visually, formally, and colour-wise very appealing, it cannot be said that they are decorative and unstimulating. They contain a certain contradiction. The ambivalence, transgression, and occasional violence instilled in the collages raise discomfort rather than a feeling of internal harmony.
Maciejewicz's cycle titled Pieces of Black Man comprises black and white pencil drawings, photographs, photo montages, and Plasticine sculptures. Both the fragmentation of work and its reception as an integral whole demand an interaction of individual elements.
In the course of the mechanical exhumation-reproduction [the images] lose their political and critical sense, transforming into meaningless “black patches” on the map of the less and less reflexive and increasingly schematic postmodernity – Piotr Pękala commented when he displayed a section of Pieces of Black Man at the exhibition Diabły! (Devils) at the Biała Gallery in Lublin.
The negroid images appearing in the drawings result from the subsequent, mutually negating graphite marks. This destructive black also frees African motifs from the cultural clichés and patterns.
- 2014 – Come to daddy – Lokal_30, Warsaw
- 2014 – Cinderella – Arsenał Gallery, Białystok
- 2012 – Afrodit – Biała Gallery, Lublin
- 2012 – Przemień mnie (Transform Me), Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw
- 2011 – Azyl / Asylum, Galeria Biała, Lublin
Selected group exhibitions
- 2015 – Wyborny trup fotografii polskiej / Exquisite Corpse of Polish Photography, Awangarda BWA Gallery, Wrocław
- 2015 – Palindrom / The Palindrome, State Art Gallery, Sopot
- 2014 – Diabły! / Devils! – Biała Gallery, Lublin
- 2014 – Miłość własna / Self-love, State Art Gallery, Sopot
- 2013 – 41st Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień, Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielsko-Biała
- 2013 – Czas kolażu / Time of Collage, Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw
- 2012 – Ars Loci – obraz aktualny / Ars Loci – The Current Image, Warsztaty Kultury, Lublin
- 2011 – KordegAART! No Budget Show 3, Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw
- 2011 – 6 Triennale of Young Artists, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko
- 2011 – 40th Painting Biennale Bielska Jesień, Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielsko-Biała
Michał Jachuła, transl. AM, December 2015.