Przemek Pyszczek, “1989”

Przemek Pyszczek
Przemek Pyszczek, Public Relief No 6, 2016. Image: Gallery Belenius.

Polish-born, Canadian-raised, Berlin-based artist Przemek Pyszczek displays new works which are primarily sculptural and mixed media, with stints into collage. These works, whether or not they set out to do so, interrogate the overlap between pop culture and politics at a time when the media shamelessly glide between the two spheres—as if they possess equal value. And at this moment: perhaps they do. For each set of eyes (and the reactions of the bodies and minds of viewers attached to them) enforce the notion that a toxic blend of peer pressure, crowd behavior and a tenacious reluctance to see “outside the [proverbial] box” can cajole the multitudes to either reject or accept what passes before their frame of interpretation and belief.

In Pyszczek’s “Public Relief” works, images/photographs (ranging from landscapes to portraits to architectural sites—most likely found or appropriated) are embedded, as if one threaded narrative is suggested, moving from one piece to another. Alternatively, it is possible to extract one work from the rest. For instance, in “Public Relief No. 1,” an anonymous man’s side profile is seen; the rest of the work serves as literal frame for the man’s visage. Focus can shift from the face to its surrounding frame, unraveling the individual’s object-hood and possible role as a centerpiece.

In part, due to an overstimulated ADHD obsessive-compulsive community of lurkers, passive-aggressive trolls and the droning presence of misleading critics, it is no surprise that many are apt to gravitate towards that which is easily digestible, entertaining or vapid. At the end of a tedious day, one may be susceptible to take the more recognizable path of least resistance, yet moving towards oversimplified works, which may soothe or placate one’s temperament, instead of those linked to more layered, causational offshoots of politics or current events has its disadvantages. Less- or anti-political works can provide instantaneous relief or solace—instead forfeiting a desire to pinpoint a convoluted “out-of-joint” world that latches itself to any vulnerable psyche.

The new works in “1989” are a hybrid of inspiration linked to Pyszczek’s time in a changing socialist Poland and in Canada’s seemingly harmless suburbia, leading to an odd nostalgic blend. The artist alludes to some collectively shared detachment, for hybrids are never firmly rooted in any position, place or coordinate. Instead, hybrids enforce an untethered status of floating, and this state is enticing for those who do not wish to take sides—or be defined as something other than what they are at a certain moment.

At first glance, Pyszczek’s candy-colored works lure observers into what appears to be a post-modern variant of kitsch, geometric construction and contemporary design, yet the artist also appears interested in cultivating his singular memory, while adopting secondary/tertiary positions in relation to others. With the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, why archive and refer to situations which are only 100% accessible to the person who experienced them in their self-centered microcosm? Perhaps, collective consciousness is best realized via works which highlight a sensitivity towards “The Other”—that which is outside the self serves to sharpen the senses or dismantle shoddy perspectives. Pyszczek’s new works create tension for those who care about both politics and aesthetics; one can careen without allegiance between and among both sides. And in this flux, Pyszczek fuels an awareness—based on choice, migration and inevitable evolution.

Previously, the artist has pursued two distinct bodies of work: (1) “façade” paintings which refer to Communist housing blocks from Warsaw’s suburban outset, and (2) “playground structure” sculptures which are fragmented compositions made with a circular saw, inspired by actual suburban play sites. Through these works, he mapped the transition of his home country since the fall of the iron curtain. Pyszczek’s works presented here are, to an extent, a continuation of the aforementioned endeavors. This most recent context is outlined in the supplemental text “The Complexity of Honesty” by Karim Crippa. The artist draws attention to complicated aspects which accompany many works presented today but with an Eastern European bent, such as: how should a work be “read” when it is removed from its socio-political reality? Or: how does one engage with or turn down the “white noise” of the art world, pop culture and current events and instead zoom in on one creative hum, especially if an artist’s practice is not obviously connected to unfolding historical events? Or: when is it the responsibility of an artist to highlight a personal, subjective angle—when others are clearly marked as more or less consequential?

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