Jakub Julian Ziolkowski – A posteriori reflection and review
Krakow (Poland) – Easter 2013. It snows like hell and it feels like Christmas. I still have a little hope to meet Jakub Julian Ziolkowski, but tracking down this guy has been like chasing a ghost. He is nowhere to be found, but I am still determined to find him.
I “met” Mr. Ziolkowski (born Zamosc, Poland, 1980) one afternoon in late February. I bumped into his exhibition at Hauser&Wirth by accident, as I intended to visit (for once and for a change) the Zurcher Kunsthalle. But it is undeniable – Hauser&Wirth is one of my most favourite places in Zurich, and I kind of feel addicted to it. It is so because of that very special blend of wise and carefully-conceived artistic choices, as well as the attractive aura of power-house and trend-setter it has become in the last decade.
So… I enter: as usual, the bright white surgical light feels as an epiphany to me. When my eyes get acquainted to it, I start looking, skimming the room to get a flavour of the exhibition of the moment.
Canvases of warm earthy colours fill the pale walls: I can recognize trees and greenery in some and what I believe are still life moments in others. False. Wrong. Misled.
Stepping into that gallery has been like falling in some of my REM phases in some periods of my life. It is like being in an oneiric state of mine. With the only slight difference that my dreams usually do not come with a vagina frame.
What is in Ziolkowski’s mind? What is all this blood and amputated body parts and veins and dismantled eyes staring at the viewer? I have never seen so much skin painted on canvas. Ever.
Neither I have seen paradisiacal landscapes popping out of an open vagina. As well as I have not seen so many orifices painted from such a closer point of view. He seems Giorgia O’Keeffe’s anti-hero. Or alter-ego?
Some of the images result really disturbing: some because I feel he is exposing each and everyone of us, some because they pull out this deep uncomfortably feeling that comes from somewhere far away. We switch from big detailed paintings of single or holistic elements to small canvases encompassing tiny and detailed group scenes of massacres and slaughtering.
It feels alien and familiar at the same time. I want to meet this Polish artist – I tell myself. And there is no better place than Krakow to start from, the city where he studied Fine Art at Matejko Academy. I want to prove the six-degrees-of-separation theory, but I prove it wrong, maybe due to time constraint. All the emails I sent to Polish institutions in Krakow he has been in contact with remained unanswered and the solo exhibition at Angel Wawel Gallery in the city showcasing Ziolkowski’s last works started a couple of days after my departure. After the six-degrees also Murphy’s. Great.
But eventually I am not worried: Jakub Julian is one of the rising artistar of this time – he is so reserved that probably hasn’t realised it or simply decided to ignore it. We will see him around again. Maybe at Hauser&Wirth in New York or perhaps somewhere in London.
So… should you also be lucky enough to bump into his name somewhere around the globe, take some time and have a dive into the mind one of the most interesting names of Contemporary Art now.
© Jakub Julian Ziolkowski
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich