Marek Jakubek

the self-portrait sketchbook

in lieu of introduction

Art, in its most ambitious form, keeps on revolving around the same universal themes of human condition and existence. And it’s been doing that for ages. But, because of the constant change that we, and the world around us, keep on undergoing, the way that art speaks about these themes varies. The art of painting also keeps on evolving in its search for the language that suits the meaning that it tries to express best.

I’m interested in art that, while trying to describe the modern world in a most credible way, is constantly looking for a new, subjective language. None of us, modern human beings, would believe no matter how beautiful a love confession if said in some archaic, outdated dialect. For years, my searches have been aimed at creating my own alphabet of signs, metaphorical and symbolic forms and structures that would allow me to express my own emotions and thoughts without copying the worn-out formal outlines.

That’s why I have always paid great attention to drawing, which in my opinion is responsible for the painting’s intellectual layer. It doesn’t mean that I belittle colour — there would not be a painting without it.

I appreciate its exceptional purport, I love these hypnotizing colour harmo- nies that engage all our senses in magical synaesthesia. However, I view the thoughtless study of colour, as well as imitating the worn-out conventions and long-gone or popular styles, as a futile and anachronistic thing to do. The tech- nique can only be a way of reaching the goal, not the goal itself.

Paintings done in 1978

Drawings done in 1980 and 1981

Paintings done in 1994 and 1995

The times of the avant-garde revolution, when the painting was focusing just on itself, are gone. I mean both the avant-garde dealing in evolution of form, and the one putting the content before the form. It has broadened our knowledge of painting and gave us unlimited freedom. Freedom, that is much harder to use than the ready templates of the former epochs, when the great art styles were born. And, although the painting doesn’t need to prove anything any more, it will never cease to define its modern identity. Today, the art of painting is searching for its distinct features. It is especially important in the context of the rapidly developing electronic media that polarize artistic attitudes and invigorate the ever-present dispute about the painting’s boundaries.

Some time ago, at the 1999 Venice Biennale, I saw some very good, undauntedly fresh and expressive abstract paintings done by... monkeys and elephants. It gave me a lot to think about. It was then, when I decided, that I will never again do an abstract painting that will be attractive but void of reflection — a result of just the spontaneous expression or child’s sensitivity. I will not try to pretend that I’m a monkey, a child or a savage. While safe, easy and attractive, this kind of art is unbearably light, incomplete and lacking a part of me — my personality that is much more complex than this of a monkey or a child. I’m also not a scientist, so I’m not interested in pseudo-scientific games. The painting’s cognitive functions are only restricted to the individual recipient, who can learn about himself and develop his or her sensitivity and self-consciousness.

That’s why, while painting and analysing one’s own creative output, it’s important to refrain from banality, exultation and intellectual gibberish.

credo

Today, I pay equal attention to both the form and the content. They need to be coherent and balance themselves out in order to make a truly mature and complete art. My art is not ideological, it does not serve any utilitarian functions, nor has it any non-artistic goals. All it needs, is to be open to the reality and curious of the new thoughts and the changes happening around it. My artistic credo doesn’t have a universal meaning. I don’t want to enforce my views on the painting’s nature and goals that justify its existence. Every mature painter has to do it on his or her own expense. The process of choosing the favourite technique of painting is often long and marked with trial and error. But it’s a very individual thing and the artist is always right.

Speaking and writing about painting is, more often than not, marked with a striking incompetence. It is also uncomfortable, as nothing stains the artist more than ink. When we have no thoughts of our own, the words become a living proof that we have nothing important to say. The painters, who should aim for having a good contact with the public, are way too often caught up in using a language that is soaked with difficult words and out-of-context philosophers’ quotes. This is not good, since today’s public is not sufficiently prepared to understand modern art and tends to get discouraged by it. Yet, it’s the painters who can have the best arguments supporting the sense and redefining the definition of painting. It is obvious that our language is the mirror of our thoughts. So, to name something which eludes definition is, for me, to understand and formulate the reason for dedicating the larger part of your life to it.

My private painter’s Decalogue is a set of 10 rules that direct my artistic work and help me judge modern art.

RULE No. 1 — for me, painting has a very personal, noncommercial sense; that’s why I prefer to go my own way. I don’t use templates, I don’t tread safe paths set out by predecessors. I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel, but about being independent and free from blind emulations. To creatively dispute the artists whose work inspires us is something completely different than just copying their solutions or following latest trends.

RULE No. 2 — I don’t want to endlessly reuse my own ideas and solutions, no matter how attached to them I may be. Every emulation strips us of creative energy, leaving just shallowness and machine-like manners in its place. The self-copying replicator is not a creator any more.

RULE No. 3 — my art should contain at least some degree of selfless sincerity based on my worldview and the time and the place where I create. By paradox, this lonely, singular uniqueness has a universal dimension. The nonconformist attitude allows for unconventional thinking and prevents from following the crowd. The introjection is the enemy of asking questions, looking for answers and artistic creation that feeds on nonconformism and rebellion. If I had to choose the lesser of two evils, I would probably choose to be a ever-surprised child, rather than a dogmatic person with ready solutions and definitions.

RULE No. 4 — painting is not science; it does not reveal objective truths. It acts on emotions, provokes thinking and, what’s most important, uncovers the foreknown secrets. A good painting is like the Basilisk — it will consume us, but first it will hypnotize us with colour and wake us up from intellectual coma.

RULE No. 5 — just as every modern realistic painting should play a game with abstraction, the abstract painting should start with reality. A good painting, no matter the style, should capture the delicate balance between the formal values substituting its essence and its beyond-art background.

RULE No. 6 — the tools or techniques should not determine whether it’s still a painting, or some other type of art. The boundaries between modern art styles are very fluid. Today’s technology lets us perfectly reproduce any painting and that makes us question the meaning of uniqueness. So, it’s not the technique that should be unique, but the form which is the result of authentic artistic creation. While search- ing for the new ways of talking about reality we shouldn’t exclude modern technology. To question the digital techniques that are used more or less covertly today, is like throwing stones at the Sun.

RULE No. 7 — in art, just like in thinking, its good to use the Occam’s razor principle, which praises simplicity and synthesis in formal and ideological searches. The rule saying that the ”entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” does not mean that we should abandon experimenting by trial and error — a key-stone for all creative actions. It means, that we should avoid gibberish and thoughtless multiplications of our own paintings.

RULE No. 8 — I don’t like paintings where the artist’s sweat is visible, just as I don’t like nonchalant disregard for technique. In both cases I feel that the artist is hiding from me the fact, that he or she doesn’t have anything to say or is cynically court- ing me with technique.

RULE No. 9 — I like modern art that encourages reflection, that is more than just eye-candy. I’m bored with plain, feel-good aesthetics.

RULE No. 10 — good modern art, while sticking to the formal rules, keeps on reconstructing the picture of our existence that stretches way beyond the photographic reproduction of the modern world. This is what drawing does. It is responsible for the ideological layer of the work of art. The drawing is today’s artist’s trademark. Only after it’s been properly, often intuitively, connected with colour, can we see whether the artist has something interesting to say.

the genesis

My own artistic way is the result of my life experiences (both artistic and non artistic), books read, existential life view (especially influenced by Albert Camus) and a slightly introspective personality. If I was asked to retrace my steps to the time when my adventure with painting started, I couldn’t answer properly. Reaching back to my childhood in Kluczbork and Ostrów Wielkopolski I can see that I have always been surrounded with crayons, pencils and brushes. My proud father collected all my accolades, awards and diplomas that I have won in primary school. So it was natural that I was sent to an art-profiled high school. A colleague from my class was a close relative of the famous Zbigniew Paluszak, the "Icarus Painter" — a Wrocław artist born in Ostrów Wielkopolski and my hero at the time. She showed him my works and that’s how I ended up in Wrocław. I remember, it was just before my entry exams, when I was waiting for the night tram at the Wrocław Main Station. I heard a mysterious screeching of rails and a magical noise of the wheels of the wooden tram that was to take me to the hotel. I was enchanted and I decided that I will do all I can to stay in Wrocław.

1967

1969

1971

1972

1974

1979

In 1974 I have graduated the High School of Arts and passed the entry exams to the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław (then called the State University College of Art). The first year of my studies was not very fulfilling. I wasn’t blind to the changes in modern art and I felt the deep need for changes in my own art. And to do that, I needed more independence... That’s why I was very happy, when professor Alfons Mazurkiewicz — a very controversial figure at the time — offered me a place in his workshop. This workshop was not easy for the students because the 70’s were not easy for painters. To study there, required independent thinking and deep personal involvement. Sadly, the professor died during his first lecture. The workshop was taken over by professor Konrad Jarodzki, whose exceptional personality, gentle way of being and tolerance for creative attitudes have made him an unsurpassed role model in my eyes. I have also admired his refined paintings with their colour palette that was subtle, narrow, yet rich in nuances. Konrad Jarodzki, Alfons Mazurkiewicz and Józef Hałas are, in my opinion, the three most important personae in Wrocław art. I did not waste too much time — I was painting a lot, mostly at night. I have become less and less frequent guest at school: I have only participated in work- shops and students’ reviews. During my studies, I have started cooperating with the ”Kalambur” open Theatre Centre, for which I designed folders. I have also participated in theatrical activities and even realized my own project — a theatrical performance of Samuel Beckett’s ”Footfalls”. The participation in theatrical workshops held by Jerzy Grotowski and Andre Gregory during the 1975 University of Research of the Theatre of Nations was another event that shaped who I am.

1975

1978

1989

1999

2006

In 1979, shortly before my graduation, I have learned that I was to get a job as the assistant at the Painting and Drawing Workshop directed by professor Konrad Jarodzki and the Painting in Architecture and Urbanism Workshop directed by professor Mieczysław Zdanowicz. Luckily, despite the emotions caused by the news, I have managed to graduate with distinction. With the start of the new academic year I was presented with yet another surprising proposition: I was asked to work part-time at the Painting and Drawing Workshop of the Interior and Industrial Design Department led by Janusz Kaczmarski. I didn’t know professor Kaczmarski, but I have soon discovered him to be a very open and thoroughly educated person, so I have decided to take the job. I have worked with Kaczmarski for three years. I have also assisted Janina Żemojtel, Elżbieta Chodżaj-Smolińska i Regina Konieczka-Popowska before I was asked by the Council of the Interior and Industrial Design Department to teach drawing and painting independently.

At the workshop 204, 1980

2004

Kroller-Miller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, 2002

Luboradów, 2003

The cooperation with Janusz Kaczmarski was exceptional, and not just in terms of my didactic work.

We have been meeting with professor and the students outside of workshops. We discussed books on modern art or listened to music played by the professor’s son — Jacek Kaczmarski — who became the famous ”Solidarity bard”. And although we had different opinions on the world and art, the talks I had with Kaczmarski have deeply influenced my professional and artistic career. I have always wanted to view my artistic work as some kind of private, personal diary. That’s why, aided by the very liberal atmosphere of the late 70’s Wrocław structuralism, I have focused on formal problems in my art. That is the reason why my explorations in drawing and painting, as well as my formal experiments, have always had more of an evolutionary character — there were no rapid changes in direction, no denying of previous accomplishments. I believe that there is a reason for everything that is happening in art as a whole, not just painting.

1998

Luboradów, 2004

From the "Ecce Homo" series, 1982, pencil, bristol board, 70x100

There are no dramatic novelties. Every act of our creation is just a part of a long chain of progress, a long chain of our predecessors. The now is a result of the past. Even the seemingly violent revolutions in painting are just natural consequences of earlier thoughts and accomplishments of many generations of artists. Even when I was just a student, I knew that the drawing is the most perfect tool for constructing one’s own unique language. I knew, that in order to add additional dimensions to my art, to make it go beyond emotions and to provoke thinking, I needed to draw regularly. The award that I have received at the University teacher’s drawing competition organized by professor Mieczysław Zdanowicz in 1988 was an additional incentive for me.

It was drawing that decided about the later evolutionary changes in my painting. But back then, my drawing experiments were parallel to painting and they served as conceptual studies.

esoteric paintings

(1980-1997)

The common denominations for abstract paintings created in the first period after graduation were the ”soft”, biological structures interweaving or put together dynamically, along with geometrical, architectural constructions meant to bring order to the composition. By modelling them with chiaroscuro, I wanted to give my esoteric paintings a surreal aura of secrecy and metaphysical anxiety.

In 1981, shortly after graduation, I have been asked to design a neo Art Nouveau stained glass-work for the ”Kalambur” theatre. In 1983-86, I have also designed a plafond there. It was my own interpretation of the Art Nouveau style. These works have of course influenced my painting.

Paintings done in 1981 and 1983

Kalambur, Wrocław, 1988

In 1997 I took part in the 8th ”Egeria” Arts Salon in Ostrów Wielkopolski, where I have won an award for a painting titled ”Jean Baptiste Clamence”. This award was a culmination of the second stage of my artistic search characterised by chiaroscuro modelling.

Paintings done in 1996 and 1997, oil colours, canvas, 130x150, 130x150

"Jean Baptiste Clamence", 1996, oil colours, canvas, 120x150

The creative works associated with architecture are influenced by the Art Nouveau. Both the plafonds and the stained glass windows have roots in this style. But it is the Author’s own interpretation of the style, which is also a starting point for new searches. His searches in canvas painting are even more independent. The sharp and merciless consequence of formal constructions transfixes the seemingly cheerful and bright colour palette. The apparent contradiction can also be visible in joining the intellectual and analytical approach to composition with the subconscious, yet detectable impetuosity of emotions. The contradictions in Marek Jakubek’s paintings make them hard to be judged and received unambiguously. They are multilayer and disturbing. One can read them anew over and over again. The Artist’s drawings are somewhat different. The motif unification makes them somehow similar to the pages from a magical book. One can read them and interpret the content. The font consists of the elementary images of life, such as the human heart and brain. The anatomical contour iconography of these signs is like a musical pulse of being.

Wrocław, 19.06.1989, professor Konrad Jarodzki

Paintings done in 1990-1995, oil colours, canvas, 120x150

The paintings of Marek Jakubek absorb the stimuli of the time in a fluid and natural way. His works receive the Art Nouveau impulses clearly and seamlessly and put them on the solid ground of the abstract, sterile, almost cold technical clarity of the Wrocław laconism. This kind of synthesis would be surprising if not for the fact, that the opposite art worlds seem to be contradicting only in the eyes of theoreticians. The painter sees them as part of reality — the reality from which he takes or which he rejects. So, a question is born: does the rational, well thought over, al- most speculative art of Marek Jakubek leave the bright premises of the ”laboratory of form” and move to the area where the meanings are undefined, where the fate of death and the secret are nondescript — to the irrational territory? Possibly so. The depth of his composition (which usually signals an increased preoccupation with content), the restlessness of form, the drama behind the sign, a hieroglyph that seems to be so frequent in his work — all this confirms this theory. His drawings (which are a separate part of the Artist’s work) are another proof — especially the ones from the ”Ecce Homo” series.

Warszawa, 18.06.1989, professor Janusz Kaczmarski

"The Venerable Wasp", 1997, oil colours, canvas, 250x120

Untitled, 1997,oil colours, canvas, 250x120

Untitled, 1997, oil colours, canvas, 240x110

Untitled, 1998, oil colours, canvas, 120x150

"The Royal Bridge", 1996,oil colours, canvas, 120x150

"Taxi", 1997, oil colours, canvas, 120x150

30 birds of Simurgh

(1996)

Drawings from the "30 birds of Simurgh" series, 1996, pencil, cardboard

The series of over 20 drawings titled ”30 Birds of Simurgh” was created in 1996. This was my first attempt at creating a unified series of drawings centred around one subject. I was inspired by a legend from the ”Book of the Imaginary Beings” written by J.L. Borges.

Simurgh, the King of Birds, loses one of his beautiful feathers somewhere in China; the birds are tired of anarchy and decide to go look for him. They know that the king’s name means ”thirty birds”. They know that his castle is located in the Kaf mountains surrounding the Earth. At first, some of the birds are afraid: the nightingale cries about his love for the rose, the parrot squawks about its beauty that put her in a cage; the quail cannot live without the mountains, the heron cannot leave the swamps, the owl is reluctant to leave the ruins. Finally, they depart on a dangerous journey; they fly over the seven valleys (or seas): the second to last is called Turmoil, the last one’s name is Oblivion. Many of the feathered pilgrims run away. Some of them die. Thirty of them, cleansed with suffering, reach the mountain where Simurgh leaves. The see him now. They understand that they are Simurgh, that Simurgh is each one of them and all of them together.

/J.L. Borges ”Book of Imaginary Beings”/

It’s a beautiful metaphor for the road to perfection and a splendid fodder for creative imagination. This work has finally closed the stage of laying foundations for my own language in drawing.

Drawing from the "30 birds of Simurg" series, 1996, pencil, cardboard, 40x40

THE THEATRE OF IMAGINATION. The clean, precise lines suggest that what we see is an example of ascetic, cold type of artistic expression. But this is merely a first impression. If you look deeper into Marek Jakubek's drawings, you will see not only space, but also rich storyline. Some viewers will discover elements connected with the Simurgh and his feathered brethren. Others, while surfing the waves of imagination, will encounter jokes, deep thoughts, symbols and associations that only they can understand. It’s because Jakubek’s works try not to enforce anything upon the viewer. They are just an invitation to the game of associations, where the viewer can take a peek through the door leading to the realm of fantasy and life, myth and reality, which was left open by the Artist.

Ewa Han, Słowo Polskie, 13.12.1996

***

KING SIMURGH'S BIRDS. The proficiently drawn lines enclose surreal shapes within their boundaries. The impressions, although abstract, have something very real to them — some kind of memory of the microparticle structure, fascination with the cosmic space, some carnality and wrinkling of matter. The unsaid, yet very real shapes dissolve in a gentle repetitive rhythm, just to break in a violent fall. There is nothing intrusive in the anecdote, despite the sudden scream of entanglement and corresponding engrossment. To be honest, I have not expected the creator of the decorative neo Art Nouveau plafond to come up with such disturbing and imagination-heavy art.

Agata Saraczyńska, gazeta Wyborcza, 13.12.1996

***

Drawing from the "30 birds of Simurg" series, 1996, pencil, cardboard, 50x40

Drawing from the "30 birds of Simurg" series, 1996, pencil, cardboard, 50x40

mr. lao’s mirrors

(1997)

In 1997 I have created another series of drawings titled ”Mr. Lao's Mirrors”. It was made using various pencil techniques, including pastels and crayons. I was inspired with the legendary Mr. Lao, created by Olivier Goldsmith, whose magical mirrors had the power to reflect people’s thoughts and feelings. My formal premise was to do some variations on multiplications. I have used multi- plications for many years; they are an important part of my technique: they introduce rhythm and create a feeling of movement, but most of all, they amplify the shape of the drawn form.

From the "Mr. Lao's Mirrors" series, 1997, pencil, crayon, cardboard, 70x60

From the "Mr. Lao's Mirrors" series, 1997, mixed technique, cardboard, 70x40

From the "Mr. Lao's Mirrors" series, 1997, mixed technique, cardboard, 60x40

From the "Mr. Lao's Mirrors" series, 1997, crayon, cardboard, 70x60

Marek Jakubek’s paintings are made from elements stolen from the worlds of dream and reality. Themes taken from the surrounding world are images of things or their ghosts from TV commercials, nature documentaries, the streets flooded with colourful lights... The Artist takes them and frees them from the course of current events, from the deluge of everyday happenings. Out of context and stripped of their former meaning, they will soon become a perfect material for artistic metaphors. The forms entwine and cross, they transform one into another and, bloated, they soar towards bright, far away planes. The background planes can also be dark and rhythmical. The shapes are most often organic: zoomorphic or plantlike, but one can also en- counter geometric figures. With their silky, sunny colours, Jakubek’s paintings look like old photographs or stained glass windows. The colour, the most important aspect of any painting, has the definite influence on the mood. It activates forms and ties them together in larger groups. Sometimes, Jakubek tunes the colours to form musical accords or places them in opposition to form counterpoints. Sometimes, he uses monochromatic solutions. The open composition of the paintings makes us think about the greater whole that they can be the part of or if there can be anything else to be put next to them. If the viewer chooses to take part in this game, his imagination will treat every painting as a single movie frame worth reconstructing. Jakubek’s drawings are composed of such sequences. Delicate like the finest lace, they amaze with expression of the most simple, yet fully utilized material — pencil line. The pencil, guided with the Artist’s steady hand, conjures the shapes of exotic creatures, strange plants, fantastic lands from the realm between the dream and reality. If we look at the drawings, we will see that the Artist, while filling the plane with markings, is also shaping it in accordance to rhythms, uses mirror reflections, multiplications and metamorphoses. Similar or identical forms form more or less dense systems, just like in the kaleidoscope, or create an ornamental rhythm which, according to H. Hofstatter, does not constitute decoration but sets all happenings in spiritual order.

Wrocław, 23.02.1999, professor Leszek Mickoś

scores

(1998-2005)

The year 1998 has brought more substantial changes. It was then, when the first works from the ”Scores” series were created. I have decided that I need to simplify my art by giving up the chiaroscuro modelling. I have introduced, for the first time, the drawn outlines of the flat abstract forms that put them in the third dimension.

Paintings done in 2005 and 2006, oil colours, canvas, 130x150, 130x150

Paintings done in 1999 and 2005, oil colours, canvas, 130x150

Paintings from the "Scores" series, done in 1998-2000, oil colours, canvas, 130x150

Paintings from the "Scores" series, done in 1998-2000, oil colours, canvas, 130x150

Paintings from the "Scores" series, done in 1999-2002, oil colours, canvas, 130x150

Paintings from the "Scores" series, done in 1999-2002, oil colours, canvas, 130x150

A year later, in 1999, the first painting from the series titled ”Scores I”, won a honourable mention at the 34th ”Bielska Jesień” painting competition in Bielsko Biała. Adam Szewczyk, a historian and art critic wrote in the competition catalogue: ”(...) the warning not to multiply entities beyond need is visible (...) in Marek Jakubek’s ”Scores”, where fried-chicken-like forms cover large canvas in a way that suggests ironical usage of the ”serial” motif in today's art and just as dirty reference to the modern art notation”.

"Scores I", oil colours, canvas, 130x150

"Scores V", oil colours, canvas, 130x150

"The Pendulum", oil colours, canvas, 130x150

drawings

(1998-2012)

In 1998 another series of drawings was created. This time they were graphical representations of Adam Mickiewicz’s sonnets. The same year, my drawing titled ”The Steppes of Akerman” received an Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature award at the International Exlibris Fair.

Two years later, in 2000, I have received a honourable mention for my miniatures at the International Miniature Competition in Częstochowa. I have participated in every International Drawing Triennale organized by the Wrocław Academy of Fine Arts and Design, and in 2006 I was nominated for award.

"Ayu-Dag", pen, cardboard, 24x21

"The Steppes of Akerman", 1998, pen, cardboard, 24,5x21

"Alushta", pen, cardboard, 70x50

Miniature from the "Scores" series, 2000, pen, cardboard, 6x6,9

metaphorical paintings

(2006-2012)

Although in the previous years I have developed different motifs by means of countless technique variations, the year 2006 marked the beginning of a full integration of painting and drawing for me. Prior to that, I have considered drawing to be a completely separate and autonomic field of artistic activity, but now I have incorporated it in my canvas paintings. The paintings from this series are characterized by their large format and dense, much richer detail. This fact is visible in the painting titled ”30 Birds of Simurgh” that resembles a locust invasion and where the details are multiplied and full of movement, or in the work titled ”Looking Down”, where the details are entangled in arabesque-like structures. Usually they are just abstract impressions of organic forms, left open for interpretation by the viewer. Sometimes, the multiplications are meant to bring certain associations to mind — just like scorpions in the ”Basil Field” or skulls in the ”Hekate” painting. I call this series of 10 paintings ”metaphorical — symbolical”. Most of them (excluding the works ”Butterfly Collection” and ”Wroniawy”) are inspired by literature, folk wisdom and superstitions.

The painting titled ”622 Falls of Bungo” was inspired by the first grotesque novel by Witkacy. The tale about Mrs. Akne — a demonic femme fatale — is now part of the Ossolineum collection.

The ”Spleen” was inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poem from ”The Flowers of Evil” poetry volume.

”Looking Down” is about the mysterious Catoblepas — a strange animal living in Ethiopia, that unknowingly ate its own feet, could kill with just a glimpse of an eye and was busy smelling mud. It was described in J.L. Borges’ ”Book of Imaginary Beings”.

”Hekate” is an ancient goddess of darkness, mistress of wizardry who directs human fate and reigns in the Underworld.

The ”Basil Field” is a metaphor for a folk superstition, saying that one should not smell basil for too long, or the scorpions will infest his brain. It’s a beautiful metaphor for human weakness, isn’t it?

”Wroniawy” is a trip to the times of my childhood. ”Butterfly Collection” reminds me of my 30 years long artistic trip that I have encased in a miniature mosaic of paintings created in the previous years.

"Butterfly Collection", mixed technique, 140x210

"Butterfly Collection", mixed technique, canvas 140x203

"Hekate", mixed technique, canvas, 140x203

"Don Quixote", mixed technique, canvas, 140x204

"Looking Down", pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"Wroniawy", pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"Looking Down", mixed technique, canvas, full-width

"Wroniawy", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"Basil Field", pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"30 Birds of Simurgh", pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"Basil Field", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"30 Birds of Simurgh", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"Spleen", 1998, pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"622 Falls of Bungo", 1998, pencil, cardboard, 200x140

"Spleen", 1998, mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"622 Falls of Bungo", 1998, mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

self-portraits

(2010-2012)

In the years 2010-2012 I have created a couple of paintings from a new series. I wanted to strengthen the personal message that they carried, so I decided to introduce and multiply my own naked portrait. The only prop that can be visible in all the paintings are my glasses. glasses are an important part of my self-image — after all, I've been seeing them in the mirror everyday since I was 13 years old. Without them, I feel like stranger to myself.

I pay equal attention to the content and to the form, to the drawing and to the colour and composition, and try to keep them clean from any needless elements. I name the painting when it’s finished, sometimes leaving the working title that has inspired me during creation. I’m aware of the fact that the clean abstract form, one that carries no meaning, does not exist. It would contradict the psycho-physiological process of looking at reality and creating our imagination’s inner reality. However, even the most realistic painting should contain some degree of abstraction as it is abstraction that decides about the work’s artistic quality. So, every realistic painting also contains an abstract layer. In order to capture this equilibrium, this subtle play of the form and the meaning, I try to avoid overabundance, exaggeration and shouting, just as I avoid lack of colour and too much silence that can turn the painting into a boring picture, a dull emptiness. There is no place for error here — false meanings are easy to detect. The paintings are the result of my need for implementing my long-term formal experiments, the urge to express my thoughts and ideas in a realistic way, using not only the props previously discovered in the laboratory of forms, but also the right colour and my own private picture language.

Up to this moment I have created 5 large format paintings. The title ”The Team of Associate Dwarves” is a slightly ironic commentary on the well known hu-man ailment which makes us see others much smaller than they really are. The paintings titled ”Salute I” and ”Salute II” are very personal illustrations of the existential philosophy presented by Albert Camus in ”The Fall”. For me, Camus is not just a keen expert on our absurd and lonely existence, but also a wise therapist who can give our life proper proportions and fill us with optimism. ”The Shield” is a painting that I have once promised my late mentor, professor Mieczysław Zdanowicz. ”The Ship Adorns Men” is a paraphrase of the old Polish saying: ”The ship build cities, the ship adorns men”.

"The Shield", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"Salut I", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"Salut II", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

"The Ship Adorns Men", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

Every encounter with Marek Jakubek’s work is an encounter with elegant form, composition and colour. His stylish and posed paintings are, for me, much more than just refined, comic book aesthetics, a decorative staffage. They are also a time machine for imagination; one that transfers us 100 years back to the forgotten time of fin de siécle, with is cabarets, revues and operettas. It’s a trip to the world of bon vivants, decadence and whimsical elegant ladies with an uptown pedigree.

A visit to 1900’s Europe and Paris from the time of the World Fair, when stile floreale, Jugendstil or Art Nouveau reigned supreme. It was a time, when refined ornaments, stylish motifs of women, flowers, insects and lizards found their way to all everyday use items: tapestries, furniture, paintings and china. The illusion of harmony and excess that they created was supposed to cover the threatening phantom of great catastrophes hanging above the world. By paradox — the more they tried to cover up the coming menace of chaos, the more they predicted it.

We all have been, at some point in our life, enchanted with Gustav Klimt’s paintings, Alphonse Mucha’s posters or Antonio Gaudi’s architecture.

Unlike many of us, for some reason Marek Jakubek remained faithful to this fascination. His works are a kind of spider web connecting two distant epochs. However, this disguise, the mask Marek is hiding behind, does not point to some form of eclecticism. Looks can be deceiving. After all, are the two epochs — the modern and the post-modern — really that different? Aren’t we living in a kingdom of fashion and beauty; the world populated by various bon vivants and whimsical elegant ladies? Aren’t there black clouds hanging above our world?

I’m looking at a beautiful, pastel composition of ”The Ship Adorns Men”, where the multiplied Artist is supporting a ship-world on his back. And despite all our, and Marek’s, efforts there is no certainty that we will be able to lift it. And even if we could, there is still a well documented fear that, despite the Artist’s best intentions, the worn out ship-world will just fall apart by itself in the air.

Janusz Jaroszewski

"The Team of Accompanying Dwarves", mixed technique, canvas, 200x140

slit paintings

(2011-2012)

"The Hussars", mixed technique, canvas, 146x209

The second part of 2012 saw the birth of yet another series of paintings, consisting of 9 so called ”slit paintings”. Narrow stripes of drawing/painting compositions of the same width are surrounded by two uniform colour planes (square and rectangular) that have the same proportions in every painting. This composition is inspired by a childhood memory. When you are 10 years old, your parents don’t want you to watch certain films. one time, I was able to see a large part of some of those larger-than-life, American psychodramas. Was it ”Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” or ”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”? I can’t remember now. Unfortunately, my mother discovered my presence and decided that it’s not a film for me. I was so captivated with this mysterious story, one that I could not fully understand, that I watched the rest of the film sitting in a dark corridor and peeking through a key hole. This made the film even more mysterious and fascinating.

My slit paintings are born of developing the fragments or whole drawings chosen from my sketchbook. I have added some new elements and variations to the selected themes. I wanted to create an illusion of peeking through a slit, through a key hole. I wanted the viewer to feel like he is secretly looking at some forbidden fruit. I wanted to wake his desires, to enhance the experience and enrich imagination. We can only guess the meaning of the shapes moving in front of our eyes. They suggest that there is a greater whole out there, the reality that is rather felt than known, one we have no access to. As long as we keep the dream of entering the world on the other side of the mirror alive, we can be safe in knowledge that the painting is different from the thing considered to be its opposite and sure that the rumours of the death of painting have been greatly exaggerated.

"Score", mixed technique, canvas, 146x201

"Er.Ka.", mixed technique, canvas, 146x194

"Procession", mixed technique, canvas, 146x192

"The Grill", mixed technique, canvas, 146x194

"The Reef", mixed technique, canvas, 146x196

"Dzięciołowska", mixed technique, canvas, 146x192

"We, The Roosters", mixed technique, canvas, 146x193

"The Streak", mixed technique, canvas, 146x208