Warsaw

  Jakub Czyszczoń, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on linen, 23 3/4 × 19 3/4".

Jakub Czyszczoń, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on linen, 23 3/4 × 19 3/4".

Jakub Czyszczoń

  Jakub Czyszczoń, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on linen, 23 3/4 × 19 3/4".

Founded in Poznań, Stereo operates today from Warsaw and is located in what was formerly the biggest printing facility in the People’s Republic of Poland, designed by famous modernist architect Kazimierz Marczewski and built in 1950. The spectacular architecture of this now run-down building and its somewhat humid interior proved to be the perfect setting for the works Jakub Czyszczoń gathered for his exhibition “[is the room full of smoke?].” Czyszczoń, who was born in 1983, presented a series of abstract pieces of different sizes that look like paintings but were created via various experimental methods, some of them far removed from the traditional métier of a painter.

All the works exhibited at the gallery were Untitled and made this or last year, from materials such as PVC, oil and acrylic paint, lacquer, and found organic objects that the artist superimposed in such a way as to allow the viewer to see several layers at once. By showing these various substrates, the works reveal the processes behind their making. For instance, in the case of the two largest works on display, each about six and a half feet high by five feet wide and dated 2016, the artist covered one of the canvases in gesso and pressed it against the other. Whatever stuck to the second one when they were pulled apart created a spontaneous abstract composition. For this reason, according to the artist, they could be considered as one piece. In other works, Czyszczoń used his own worn cotton T-shirts either as a support or as a surface covering. Although the T-shirts were deprived of their original shape and function, stretched on a backing board with their collars and sleeves no longer visible, one could imagine their recent proximity to the artist’s body, bringing the relationship between the work and its creator to a more intimate level.

A moldy orange peel peered from beneath one of the T-shirts. Affixed to the surface of another work was a dried brown leaf overlaid with brownish linen. As is so often the case with contemporary artworks that use food and other organic materials, there was a pungent sense of decay and nostalgia. A similarly suggestive melancholy could be also felt in two works from 2015, incorporating yellowed American newspapers impregnated with lacquer. Czyszczoń told me that during his childhood, newspapers from the United States gave him dreams of a distant land full of luxuries and freedom. Later, of course, he learned that the reality was more complex. Yet the nostalgia that inhabited these pages is somehow still apparent in the works he’s made from them, just as the body’s warmth and vitality seem to linger in these now unworn T-shirts.

Sylwia Serafinowicz