AN ART HISTORIAN'S VIEW
The ARTEMIS Gallery is a very unusual place – it constitutes part of the home of two creative people – open and friendly towards visitors. It is also an artistic workshop, a studio and an exhibition space in which dozens of paintings hang in the company of 15 sculptures, executed in the years 1989-2012. The thematic and formal richness of Bogdan Kowalczyk’s painting has its equivalent in his sculptural works, which, though more modest in quantity, are surprisingly diverse, in terms of both theme and concept. From the almost pure abstraction of Lotus (marble, 1997) to the readable representation of the sea nymph Nereid (marble, 2004), from the geometry-inspired forms of the Ring of Energy (marble, 1992), derived from the tradition of European Modernism, to the expressive swirls of human and animal shapes in Midsummer Night (2000), the visitor can view works that join in a fascinating way inanimate stone with the organicity of man. Among them is Stone Dream (marble, 1998) in which a carefully polished face with a classical profile and lips parted in sleep emerges from a rough block of marble.
The artist’s chosen medium is polished marble, and ten of the fifteen exhibited sculptures have been executed in this material. The medium itself, thanks to an exquisite polish, ensures an artistic quality of the highest order. In one case it acquires additional radiance in an artistic symbiosis with the smooth surface of a spiralling, metallic spring in which resides the hidden rhythm and energy of the Carnival in Rio (2009).
In his sculpture he can surprise viewers by the unexpected introduction of primary colour, such as the vibrant red of a small disc which appears in the deep blackness of Night Fishing (marble, 2009). In the Gaze from the Past (marble + granite, 1994), a dark green, smoothly polished ‘pupil’ set in partly polished stone carries an elusive aura of mystery. But the greatest coloristic achievement in Bogdan Kowalczyk’s sculpture is born of the masterly, subtle gradations of colour – the shades of grey, beige, brown, and also pale pinks, and greens, sometimes streaked with white. In the beautiful Sacrum (marble, 1989) it is this delicate, nuanced colouring in conjunction with the perfection of grooving and polishing that creates the mystical aura of the work.
The titles of most of the works in the ARTEMIS Art Gallery are evocative ones, sometimes enigmatic, opening paths to diverse interpretations, leading viewers towards myths, legends, history and civic life. They are carriers of ideas, they invite reflection, they bear within themselves the possibility of various associations and suggest a multiplicity of meanings.
Bogdan Kolwaczyk’s sculptures are not large in size –12 of them are less than one metre high. Yet in them dwells the discernible potential of monumentality – they can be imagined on a much bigger scale, residing in garden scenery, in wooded terrains or in urban architectural settings.
Prof. Halina Taborska, Art Historian, Philosopher
Rector of the Polish University in Exile
240 King Street, London W6 0RF, Great Britain