Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art

Ziółkowski’s paintings are indeed wild and hallucinatory, maybe even grotesque to say the least about their effect on the viewer who spectates them. But their canvases are inhabited by strange, bizarre and frightening characters that only increase viewer’s curiosities into Ziółkowski’s universe.

The body becomes dissected to the point of surreality as Ziółkowski collides the worlds of Hieronymus Bosch and Philip Guston as a disfiguration of society’s humanity and folk-lore tales not just from his native country of Poland but also ancient Greece, André Masson and Frank Zappa for their outlandish representations and depictions of the ‘Hyde’ to the world’s ‘Jekyll’. The viewer is reminded of Jacques Lacan’s theory of the other and ego-formation as conceived at the point of self-recognition, thus the paintings become reflections of the artist himself and the Untitled gouache on paper portrait becomes the closest photograph of Ziółkowski.

Amongst Ziółkowski’s inspiration are Roman warriors with the hint of Rudolf Schlichters in Gladiator; the rise and fall of capitalism in the Untitled skeleton that carries the weight of his country’s past bouts with consumer production not dissimilar to Atlas upholding the world on his shoulders.

Some of the violence in Ziółkowski’s imagery and vision possess similar appeal to Matthew Weir and his depictions of figures that attempt to emancipate themselves from their histories as well as the viewer. The Guston influence is found in Ziółkowski’s use of psychedelic colours to accommodate his cartoonish and haunting imaginings that resonate from his country’s sometimes kitschy products.

André Masson’s impact in the formation and development of Surrealism originated like any associated artist, from his autonomous or automatic drawings that are derived from recesses of his mind’s imagination. This is the effect of Masson on Ziółkowski with his altered still-lifes and portraits. However, as of yet the impression Francisco Goya has left on Ziółkowski’s paintings and few sculptures has not been properly documented as Goya’s Disasters of War series has been partially referenced through Ziółkowski’s own unreal interpretations of seemingly vulgar subject themes of death, human inhumanity, and sinister speculations to the traumatic consequences of violence which is especially evident in his enclosed drawings.