A casual visitor to Wrocław in southwest Poland might be surprised to see a chrome-plated bread holder hanging from a wall. While seemingly incongruous with the surrounding landscape, it serves a purpose: to feed the city's birds.
Such sights are uncommon to that cityscape, as they are in other parts of the nation. But works by one of Wrocław's prominent contemporary artists, Krystian "Truth" Czaplicki, are slowly spreading to other parts of the globe.
Czaplicki (born 1984) graduated from the Faculty of Interior Design and Designing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. Despite his open-air art, he denies being a street artist:
I'm more of an urban artist. I neither like nor use the term street art. […] From my perspective, the beauty of creating in the public space lies in the fact that your works can be very personal, have strong intellectual undercurrents, and yet still look like a natural part of the local environment. Of all the art I encounter on the streets each day, I think I like letter-based graffiti the most. (Biweekly.pl, Issue 38 )
Other works by the artist include fungi-like structures mushrooming onto building sides in Poland and abroad (he does not title his works). But the artist specified to culture.pl in an interview that his upbringing in Poland has shaped his art.
Poland has a specific raw aesthetic similar to other countries from the Eastern Bloc, which definitely has had a profound influence on me and my art. For example, creating my works in England is much harder for me. I lose the natural background for my sculptures that I'm very used to. I really enjoy working in my hometown, Wrocław, mostly around my district. I was born, raised and still live in the same precinct. I know every corner and detail, therefore I don't have to search for new locations or inspirations. The ideas are already in my subconscious - I just have to wait for them to intuitively emerge.
Among the artist's most recognisable works in Wrocław is a deck chair he hung from an iron pipe over a stream near Grabiszyński Park, west of the city centre. The piece harkens back to his childhood memories, referencing his grandomother's old deck chair.
His installations hide in plain sight. A shiny metal cigarette box lying in a puddle might be passed by thousands of people without anyone noticing it. A bronze sapling rooted in a Wrocław park looks just like any other, until one observes weld marks running down its side.
"Generally most passersby are too busy to see my works", the artist told culture.pl. "Only the more inquisitive ones that are curious enough to notice what’s going on around in their neighborhoods become aware of them."
Despite installing his "public interventions", as he calls his works, in public or private properties - buildings, walls, open fields - Czaplicki says he has never had problems with the police or other authorities.
[...] they are too abstract to be associated with graffiti or vandalism. On the other hand, I also want them to be a reminder of the different objects that surround us in the public space, so consequentially they look like a natural component of the city.
These urban installations are not built to last, and can be found, stolen, damaged or destroyed. But the artist is not overly concerned - he sees his works as ephemeral. Much time is spent on funding, building and installing works that, because of their nature as public installations, can last for a very short time.
I work in a public space, but in reality it's quite a personal experience for me. I generate different feelings and reactions mostly for myself and occasionally for the more sensitive, accidental passersby.
Abroad, his works have been shown at a number of major group exhibitions across, Europe, such as the Urban Interventions show at the Urban Art Info Gallery in Berlin, Les Grandes Traversees Festival in Bordeaux, Euroculture Festival in Manchester and the Young Creative Poland showcase in London and Milan. His works have been featured in various art publications, such as Urban Maps. Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City (Ashgate Publishing Limited, London, 2011), Trespass. A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art (Taschen, New York, 2010), The Post-Socialist City. Continuity And Change In Urban Space And Imagery (Jovis Verlag, Berlin, 2010), Street Renegades: New Underground Art (Laurence King Publishing, London, 2007).
Author: Roberto Galea, February 2013
For more on Krystian "Truth" Czaplicki, see: krystiantruthczaplicki.blogspot.com and www.bwawarszawa.pl
Selected solo exhibitions and projects:
- Płynneinterwencje, Poland
- The Changeling, BWA Warszawa, Warsaw
- Rysy, BWA Gallery, Wroclaw (PL)
- Interventions, Gallery At the White Unicorn, Klatovy (CZ)
- Truth, BWA Gallery, Sanok (PL)
- Urbanirony, BWA Gallery, Wroclaw (PL)
- -Transformation, CCA Ujazdowski Castle,Warsaw (PL)
- Simplicity, Entropia Gallery, Wroclaw (PL)
Selected group exhibitions and projects:
- The Artificial FullMoon, Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw (PL)
- Skontrum. Evolution, Krolikarnia / National Museum, Warsaw (PL)
- Contemporary Polish Art, Artplay, Moscow (RU)
- New Order, Art Stations Foundation, Poznan (PL)
- Survival 9, Park Tolpy, Wroclaw (PL)
- Block Party, Carmichael Gallery, Culver City CA (US)
- Les Grandes Traversees Festival, Bordeaux, Royan, Soulac (FR)
- Urban Interventions, Urban Art Info Gallery, Berlin (DE)
- Young Creative Poland, Milano (IT)
- Young Creative Poland , London (UK)
- Eurocultured Festival 2009, Manchester (UK)
- Brno Art Open 2009, Brno (CZ)
- Seeking Constructive Concrete Structural 2, Museum Vasarely, Budapest (HU)
- Inbetween Project, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (N)
- Freeshout Festival, Prato (IT)
- London Festival of Architecture, London (UK)
- Among the Islands Project, Wroclaw (PL)
- Experimenta Design, Urban Play, Amsterdam (NL)
- Establishment ( and its discontents ), CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (PL)
- Urbanfeedback, Markthalle, Basel (CH)
- Monitoring Project, Institute of History of Art, Cracow (PL)
- Architecture is Art Festival, Wroclaw (PL)
- Laktacje 1, Center of Art Koneser, Warsaw (PL)