Visual artist working in different disciplines: painting, drawing, objects, installations, photographs, and recordings. Born in 1984 in Tychy, Silesia.
In 2004 – 2009, he studied painting at the Katowice Academy of Fine Arts. He debuted in 2009 at the Kronika Gallery in Bytom with a project Mango. In the same year, he defended his diploma project in the form of an exhibition titled Dishonest Trick, presented at the same venue. He co-founded the enigmatic group Ośmiornica (together with Bartek Buczek, Szymon Kobylarz, Maciek Nawrot, and Michał Smandek, and the curator Marta Lisok). In 2010, he started a collaboration with a Katowice-based graffiti artist using the nickname Van69, whom he invited to the exhibition Broken Codes at Program Gallery in Warsaw.
In 2004 and 2005, his works were featured on a 100 shortlist of the competition Painting of the Year organised by the Art&Business magazine; in 2008 and 2013, he received the scholarship of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage; in 2009, he received an honorary mention in the contest for best diplomas of the Academy of Fine Arts organized by the Academy in Gdańsk; in 2011, he was a nominee in the 10th edition of the Geppert Competition.
He collaborates with Monopol and Kasia Michalski Galleries in Warsaw.
Michał Gayer’s practice is a consequence of an insightful observation of the reality and transformations of selected phenomena, events or situations into multilayered narratives, often autobiographical. His semantically elaborate works often take the form of coded messages, which demand the viewer to undertake an often times perverse interpretative game operating on many levels of perception.
It is a sophisticated game with common thinking patterns, imposing new ways of deciphering reality – Zuzanna Sokołowska wrote in the catalogue to his exhibition Broken Codes.
The artist employs many media and techniques, selected according to the specifics of a given piece. Gayer’s diploma exhibition Dishonest Trick comprised, among others, cardboard and plywood objects, paintings on wood, manipulated photographs, and recordings. The main theme of the exhibition was a story of an informer Helena Mathea, a.k.a. Bloody Julia, suspected of collaborating with Gestapo, to whom she gave away members of Silesian division of the Home Army. Gayer subjected the historical themes to interpretative experiments involving artistic manipulation and their placement in ambiguous contexts.
When I look at a newspaper, there are moments when I am unable to connect the photograph and the article content, as if one of those elements had to be false. I sometimes think that I don’t care about an article or an opinion about Bloody Julia, I don’t believe she is guilty. I can however easily imagine her as a celebrity.
Gayer juxtaposed an image of the Silesian femme fatale with a picture of Marlene Dietrich and also painted a portrait of the Gestapo agent, based on a press photograph, with his own finger tips (Stroking: The Portrait of Helena Mathea).
At an exhibition at the Bęc Zmiana gallery space (2011), Gayer showed a series of drawings inspired by the science fiction novel Outside The Earth by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, one of the pioneers of astronautics. The artist bought this book from an antique book seller and decided to create illustrations to its non-existent reedition; he drew them based on photographs of his friend taken in Moscow’s Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.
It is a story of scientists from different countries. The Russian is the greatest genius. He comes up with the idea to build the first space travel rocket. The plot takes place in 2017. And this interested me at first. It is a kind of history’s joke, but not only.
In 2011, Gayer collaborated with Szymon Kobylarz on a project titled Hotel. In a hotel room known as M 311, he created a series of enigmatic, small installations. In 2012, at his solo exhibition Walking in the Night at CCA Ujazdowski Castle, he presented a report from his night walks in an empty Regional Park of Culture and Recreation in the form of photographs, drawings, and objects.
This is a very light project, realised without a defined artistic purpose, however also not pointless – the artist explained. – It describes the sole fact of going out at night, a lonesome experience of emptiness, silence, and freedom in a park, in a city, where the society stops to function as it goes to sleep.
Gayer based the project Urban Cowboy. Folk Art. Silesia 2011-2015 (Monopol Gallery, 2015) on two ‘salvaged,’ never realised ideas by anonymous authors. One of them involved installing a mirror sphere on top of a skyscraper in order to illuminate the city, while the other one – conjure a figure of an urban cowboy who would observe subtle changes taking place in the urban landscape. Gayer, as a reenactor, combined both concepts, describing his multilayered installation as an ‘adaptation of oral tradition.’
The starting point for Gayer’s exhibition Exhausted Body, Eyes Closed (2016) was the literary description of impressions and feelings of the artist, who after an exhausting day sat down in a car in Gdańsk’s car park and listened to messages sent to him by his tired body, simultaneously noting down his reactions. Based on the record, Gayer created a diagram drawing – a record of body’s communication with mind. The exhibition was a continuation of a performative experiment and an elaboration on interpretations of the registered messages.
Author: Ewa Gorządek, November 2016, transl. AM, December 2016.