Painter, photographer, and video artist. Born on 1, April 1984 in Warsaw.
Painter, photographer, and video artist.
Tymoteusz (Tymek) Borowski is one of the talented, very young artists that are currently the focus of attention of the opinion-making community of art critics, curators, and gallery owners. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2005–2009, in the studio of Prof. Leon Tarasewicz (graduating in 2009). While still a student, he presented his work at solo and group exhibitions and began an ongoing collaboration with Paweł Śliwiński, a fellow student from Prof. Tarasewicz's studio.
Borowski's work contains clear references to the surrealist tradition, but the artist is also openly enthusiastic about drawing from other aesthetic traditions of 20th-century art, such as matter painting, tachisme, and abstract art, and likes to experiment with various techniques and unconventional materials. Borowski defies stylistic pigeonholing and his paintings testify to the current crisis of imaging in art. Nevertheless, he admits that he has the greatest affinity for the unbridled freedom of the surrealist imagination.
What they call new surrealism today does not include the things you would expect of contemporary art - these pictures do not refer to any discourse, it is impossible to subject them to the standard art analysis machine. I think that's a good thing because this way, we eliminate any intermediary between the work and the audience, he told Aleksandra Urbańska.
To Borowski, painting means 'creating worlds'. It is a process unfettered by any obligation to formulate a clear message or communication with the audience. 'The point is to paint a picture, but in harmony with one's own desires, whims, and spontaneous artistic activity. For me it's about painting as such. I like painting, I enjoy what happens', he said in the same interview. His autonomous world is born in a discursive process of experimenting with conventions and styles, revealing the young artist's technical proficiency and his enjoyment of the physical gesture of painting.
Borowski paints from photos and this is often the starting point for many of his paintings. He often paints surreal portraits of well-known personalities that he places against equally surreal backgrounds. In Portrait of Wilhelm Sasnal, the face is painted entirely white while the subject's eyes look out curiously from above it. The rest of the canvas is filled with shapeless, colourful blobs of freely applied, sometimes dribbling paint. Portrait of Carlos Slim 1 presents a vertical black grating with three horizontal crosspieces on which bloody scraps of various body parts and internal organs are impaled. Portrait of Kazimiera Szczuka 1 is an organic creature with many projections and bulges, crowned with branching feelers. Portrait of Renet Akhmetov presents a torso pressed into a cube shape out of which grows a head that is round like a ball and has no features. His paintings usually have a thick, fleshy texture, and are sometimes simply made out of the texture of paint without any canvas backing.
Tymek Borowski and Paweł Śliwiński's began joint painting when they were students. The artists undertook various projects, initially in the form of spontaneous fun that later led to a planned collective picture painting project. In 2007, they took part in a show prepared for Kraków-based Artpol in which they presented a painting performance involving them playing a game of painted join-the-dots on the gallery walls. At the turn of 2008 and 2009 their exhibition Wspólne obrazy z ukrytym przekazem (Joint Pictures With A Hidden Message) was the inaugural event of Warsaw's Galeria A. The artists made a painted cycle together, accompanied by a brief note explaining themselves: 'Tymek and Paweł painted 35 pictures together. First one of them painted, then the other, until they decided they were done'. Their artistic visions are irrational in expression: they resemble phantasmagorical landscapes emerging from the element of painted materials. Dimorphic forms are intertwined with photos and three-dimensional components stuck onto the canvas surface, highlighting the inhomogeneous character of these artistic constructs.
Critics interpreted Borowski's June 2009 exhibition Nowe dobre czasy (The Good New Days) as a statement of the artist's manifesto. It was an extensive and multi-themed show showing different aspects of his oeuvre. It featured a picture 'painted' with a hammer that the artist used to spread his materials, a canvas ripped to shreds (bez tytułu (Poszarpany), 2009) (Untitled (Ripped), 2009) and pictures painted on textured backgrounds: covered in spikes or the rhythmic vertical traces of a roller (bez tytułu (Czarny), 2009) (Untitled (Black), 2009). There were also pictures invoking Mannerism, such as a landscapes inspired by Picasso that were covered with a spider web, or the abstract Triptych establishing a dialogue with Lucas Cranach's Portrait of Three Young Women from 1530. The exhibition also included a computer generated Photoshop painting that was printed on material similar to a painter's canvas (bez tytułu (PSD1) (untitled (PSD1), 2009). In the imaginary portraits of famous American psychologist Steven Pinker, the figurative form disappears into abstract shapes. The paintings in the gallery were accompanied by a photo of the artist's studio and a drawing with a description of a device for looking at art. In his design for this device, Borowski very wittily drew the ultimate conclusion from the idea of the "white cube" of the gallery space. He proposed creating conditions for the perception of art that would resemble the effect of sensory deprivation. Viewers cut off from any external impressions and any physical sense of their own bodies could focus exclusively on the undisturbed reception of art.
In 2009 Borowski and Śliwiński prepared a series of five sculptures for the opening of a Sculpture Park in Warsaw's Bródno district as part of the 5 z Bródna (5 from Bródno) project by Galeria Vinylcanvas and ArtBazaar. These were vinyl Munny dolls artistically processed into a group of 'Pigment-men'. These unique works stood for a short time in Bródnowski Park and were documented.
The artistic duo's latest project is the book Tymek Borowski & Paweł Śliwiński. Problemy (Tymek Borowski & Paweł Śliwiński. Problems), released by the Malarzy publishing house. It includes a series of photographs by both artists presenting fictitious works of art that they invented and which could easily be on display at any gallery of contemporary art.
In 2015, Tymek Borowski's individual exhibition entitled Nie Ma Czegoś Takiego Jak Sztuka (There Is No Such Thing As Art) opened in BWA Olsztyn.
In his work, Borowski focuses on the ‘theory and practice of reality’, which means looking for logical principles that define reality. He also explores art itself, its nature: He talks not only about the ways to be an artist, what art is, but also how it’s created, valued and how the work positions itself in the world. He reveals the rules of the game in the world of art and the art circulation market. To do so, he uses learning aids such as diagrams, infographics and entry charts. He surprises viewers with charts drawn on a gallery wall in marker, Internet memes or short animated videos. He does this to ‘explain’ art in the simplest way possible, avoiding fluid and often-contradictory definitions.
Borowski's educational works are light and have a funny, sometimes even comical form. The message, however, is serious, and for some members of the art world, might even seem controversial. The title of the exhibition There Is No Such Thing As Art is also the name of one of his works, in which he modifies Margaret Thatcher's statement: ‘There is no such thing as society’. The original quote continues: ‘There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first’.
As part of the exhibition in Olsztyn, visitors could also see the artist's latest projects, including a comic on the utility of art inspired by a Stephen Wright novel. Borowski presented more than critical works; there were pieces attempting to show ‘positive examples’. They illustrated how art can positively influence everyday life and have practical applications.
This exhibition talks about the problems we have with works of art and ideas on how to solve them. It encourages me to look at the pieces as any other cultural products, such as a pork chop or a bicycle, and to answer the question – does this thing give me something? Does it have any positive impact on people's lives? Looking at works of art through the lens of their usefulness does not limit the artist at all. On the contrary – it opens the way for him to do things that can be useful, valuable and fascinating to a wider audience.
That same year, Wszyscy Potrzebują Zasad, Ale Każdy Potrzebuje Innych (Everyone Needs Rules, But Everyone Needs Different Ones) opened in the Arsenal Gallery in Białystok, which is another individual exhibition by Borowski. The exhibition presented a dozen of the artist's works, most of which were new, but not all related to the title of the exhibition. The artist compared a good exhibition to a record on which we rarely find a dozen or so songs on the same topic, hence the idea of doing some other pieces.
The works that referred to the title of the exhibition included a series of portraits based on in-depth psychological interviews with models and an infographic about an experimental search for ways to help yourself, suggesting how to refute false beliefs about your own life and find ways to suit your own character. There was also a movie entitled How Culture Works? made in cooperation with Rafał Dominik and Jakub Maiński,a practical guide to the effective use of culture – a structure that organizes our way of living and acting. The film talks about where cultures come from and how they evolve – both large, historical ones – as well as contemporary, personal ones.
'Off-topic' works included: Śmieci Na Skraju Drogi (Garbage On The Edge Of The Road), a study of the material world in the form of a large-format digital image; 'a calendar of life', which showed the importance of every single day and a diagram illustrating the mutual relationships of the best, worst and so-called solutions to each problem.
After a few years of consciously staying away from the medium, Tymek Borowski returned to classical painting in an exhibition dedicated to him and organized by the Polana Institute in 2017. The new images were created with an awareness of digital technology, its pursuit of high definition and a multitude of details. On the other hand, Borowski focused on the materials, an area in which painting has a tremendous advantage over digital imaging. Some of the works presented at Polana Institute were amusing and scary portraits of specific people who, along with subsequent works, increasingly transformed into amorphous, complex compositions consisting of thousands of tiny decisions.
Tymek Borowski told Jan Owczek about his return and approach to painting in an interview for Magazyn Szum.
(...)The fact that I started painting again happened quite organically. At first, about two years ago, these were individual things – sometimes exhibited somewhere, sometimes not. I slowly came to the conclusion that painting is not without perspective, as I thought when I gave it up a few years earlier. I felt its potential.
The fact that painting is a bit ‘stupid’ is not a problem for me, because people are also a bit ‘stupid’ - meaning not optimized, internally contradictory, etc. In this sense, painting is very human. And ultimately I do art for myself and other people, not for some perfectly rational artificial intelligence. Or maybe other reasons, which prevented me from painting, disappeared? In any case, I now have an approach that I do not discriminate against any medium. If I want to paint a picture, I paint a picture, but it doesn't have to be a big statement.
academy of fine arts in warsaw
new media art
Selected solo exhibitions:
- 2019 – Lato 2019 / Summer 2019, Monopol Gallery, Warsaw
- 2018 – Tschumi Alumni: How Art works? How Culture Works?(with Maruša Sagadin), Künstlerhaus, Graz
- 2017 – Tymek Borowski, Polana Institute, Warsaw
- 2015 – Wszyscy Potrzebują Zasad, ale Każdy Potrzebuje Innych/ Everybody Needs Rules, But Each of Us Needs Different Ones, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok; Nie Ma Czegoś Takiego Jak Sztuka (There Is No Such Thing As Art), BWA Olsztyn
- 2014 – All the Stories Are the Same, But Some of Them Are Completely Different, Platán Gallery, Budapest [HU]
- 2013 – Wayward Layer, Four-Face Space Gallery, Beijing (with Paweł Śliwiński); Na Razie/ See You, GaleriaKolonie, Warszawa (with PawełŚliwiński);Teoria i Praktyka/ Theory and Practice, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warszawa
- 2010 – Koniec Żartów / Cut the Jokes, GaleriaKolonie, Warszawa
- 2009 – Problemy/ Problems, Bielany Cultural Centre, Warszawa (with PawełŚliwiński); Nowe Dobre Czasy/ Good New Days, A Gallery, Warszawa
- 2008 – Wspólne Obrazy Z Ukrytym Przekazem/ Collaborative Paintings With Hidden Messages, A Gallery, Warszawa (with Paweł Śliwiński); solo show, Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw
- 2005 – Painting Action 'Potato', Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw (with Paweł Śliwiński)
Selected group exhibitions:
- 2018 – Wild at Heart, Zachęta — Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, Warszawa
- 2017 – Love, Memory, Curiosity, Geological Museum, Warsaw; Co z Ta Abstrakcją?, Stefan Gierowski Foundation, Warsaw; Cały Czas w Formie/ Stay in Shape, Studio Gallery, Warsaw
Acting Rules in Art, Gallery Eigenheim,Weimar; Cały Czas w Pracy/ All The Time at Work, Labirynt Gallery, Lublin; Far Away from Where?, Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, New York [US]
- 2016 – Collection #3: Part 2, Chamber Gallery, New York; Collections, Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Węże, Sztylety I Płatki Róży / Snakes, Daggers and Rose Petals, Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, Krakow; Bogactwo/ Money to Burn, Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Common Affairs, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin; Superprojekt, Depot Basel, Basel; Cały Czas w Pracy/ All The Time At Work, BWA Tarnów
- 2015 – Warsaw Under Construction 7: Reconstruction Dispute, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; The Principle of Happiness, Weimar Arts Festival, Weimar;
- 2014 – Postęp i Higiena/ Progress and Hygiene, Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Does Humor Belong in Art, ACC Galerie, Weimar; Ustawienia Prywatności: Sztuka Po Internecie/ Private Settings: Art After The Internet, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; Eternal September, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana; Does Humor Belong in Art, HALLE 14, Leipzig; JakWidać:PolskaSztkaDziś/ As You Can See: Polish Art Today, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; Is It Art Or Is It Just?, BWA ZielonaGóra
- 2013 – Poland-Kraków Design Trip Regular Exhibition, BIAD Attic Architect Space, Beijing; Warsaw Under Construction 5: Profession Architect, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Museum of Warsaw; Spojrzenia 2013 / Views 2013 – Deutsche Bank Foundation Award, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warszawa; Mum, I Just Really Need To Focus On My Art Right Now, GaleriaArsenał, Poznań; Rzeczy i Ludzie/ Things and People, GaleriaArsenał, Białystok
- 2012 – Warsaw Under Construction 4: City For Sale, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; NajlepszeWystawy, KtóreNieMiałyMiejsca/ The Best Exhibitions That Never Took Place, Contemporary Museum, Wrocław; BĄK, BunkierSztuki, Kraków
- 2011 – JestemNa PrawieNa KażdejWystawie/ No, No, I Hardly Ever Miss a Show,Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warszawa; 10th Geppert Competition – What Does a Painter Do?,BWA Wrocław; Pejzaż, Portret, MartwaNatura/ Landscape, Portrait, Still Life, GaleriaKolonie, Warszawa; MOCAK Collection, MOCAK, Kraków
- 2010 – The Dictionary of Received Ideas, Q, Londyn; NieŚpimy! / No Sleep!, BWA ZielonaGóra
- 2009 – Fancy Success in Young Polish Painting, BunkierSztuki, Kraków; Prague Biennale 6, Karlin Hall, Praga
Author: Ewa Gorządek, July 2010. Updated: HSz, 2019.