Tomek Sikora is a photographer and creator of posters and book illustrations. He collaborates with advertising agencies and has won many prizes for his work. He was born on the 9th of September, 1948, in Warsaw.
Photographer, creator of posters and book illustrations.
Sikora comes from an artistic family – his mother was a painter and his father was a noted sculptor. Tomek Sikora became a professional photographer at the age of 20 after he completed a scholarship at one of the Kodak studios in Paris.
After he returned to Poland in 1972 he was associated with the Perspektywy weekly as a photojournalist. At the same time he was also creating theatre and film posters. After spending ten years in Poland Sikora left for Australia, where he led photography workshops at the Victorian College of Arts. After he ended his didactic work he founded an advertising photography studio and worked on his own projects.
He has realized photographic projects for such brands as Giorgio Armani, Yohji Yamamoto and Prada. He is known for founding, together with Andrzej Świetlik, the Homeless Gallery / Galeria Bezdomna.
He presently lives and works in Warsaw and works as a lecturer and photographer.
Photography Won’t Dump You
Sikora has a permanent romance with photography. He says:
Photography is everything to me, photography is pleasure, fun and a language of communication with people.
Unlike many other creators, he never looked for any other paths of developments or ways of making money.
When you truly love photography and treat it as the most important thing in the world, photography won’t dump you.
Sikora in Wonderland
When Sikora was a photojournalist for Warsaw-based weekly Perspektywy, he not only took pictures for this periodical, but also worked on projects which didn’t have much in common with photoreportage. As a result two large series were created: Album and Alice in Wonderland / Alicja w Krainie Czarów. They share a surrealist vision of the world and an exceptional approach to colour.
When you’re surrounded by greyness you do everything to break it. There was always too little colour for me. The streets were always grey, the commercials were badly done and the colours were badly printed. Everything was dull. I always wanted to make unusually colourful photographs, even unnaturally overdrawn ones [from an interview for Fotopolis.pl, 10.09.2010].
The series Alice in Wonderland, which Sikora created together with the graphic artist Marcin Morszczak at the turn of 1978 and 1979, secured Sikora a place in the pantheon of Polish photographers. This work consists of twelve large format black and white photographs painted with an airbrush. Each picture illustrates one of the chapters of Lewis Carroll’s book. This project was financed entirely by the artists and their friends. It was to be “a way of getting away from the socialist reality”.
In 1980 Alice in Wonderland was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre in Paris during the Youth Biennale exhibition. This was the beginning of a good exhibition streak for the artist: his works started to appear in other European countries and in the USA.
A Polish Aborigine in Australia
Tomasz Sikora spent a part of his life in Australia. In the 80s he led photography workshops in that country. Since then, he has frequently returned Down Under. He was selected as the best advertising photographer there twice (in 1991 and 1992).
In 2005 he spent 3 months travelling across the Australian continent. During this journey he covered over 16,000 kilometres. The voyage resulted in the project The Promised Land which consists of dozens of pictures showing empty roads.
The Homeless Gallery
Sikora created the Homeless Gallery together with Andrzej Świetlik as a response to the needs of young creators whose works weren’t being exhibited by state institutions or private galleries. As suggested by the name, the Homeless Gallery doesn’t have a fixed address. It travels from town to town, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, often using vacant buildings, abandoned train stations and squats as exhibition spaces.
Sikora said the following about the history of the Homeless Gallery:
The idea was based on three basic principles: all photography aficionados may present their pictures without limitation by hanging or installing their photos in an object of our choice. The works aren’t censored or selected in any way by third parties, participation and viewing are free of charge both for the exhibiting persons and the viewers [an interview for the Office of the Capital City of Warsaw, 16.10.2012].
Exhibition, Exhibition, Exhibition
Sikora has taken part in a record-breaking number of exhibitions. He had 55 individual expositions and participated in many group showings. All in all, the artist’s works have visited nearly 30 cities in Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.
Images and Words
Sikora is always on the lookout for new ways of working with photography: from experimenting with colouring photographs, through manipulating the images during the development process and during editing, to adding to photography elements from other art forms. Since the beginning of the new millennium the artist has been focusing on the interplay of image and word, creating exhibitions hovering between photography and poetry. Sikora showed two projects conforming to this convention: Heard in Silence and Woman / Kobieta. At these exhibitions the space in which the photographs hung was intersected by foil curtains with poems by Renata Plaga.
The development of social media and the advancing technologization of both everyday life and art influenced Sikora’s creative work. He began to create photographic animations: films a few minutes long that are compilations of the artist’s pictures, literary texts and music.
Sources: the artist’s website www.tomeksikora.eu, Fotopolis.pl, the website of the Office of the Capital City of Warsaw, own materials, edited by DS, 03.10.2014