Bogdan Korczowski Contemporary Art

Bogdan Korczowski Photo MARTIQ

His paintings, although seemingly abstract, consist of many small elements with symbolic features. They are a record of the artist's experiences, thoughts and journeys: both physical and spiritual. That is why his art is sometimes referred to as: a "symbolic abstractionism".
This catalogue is an invitation to travel together through the artist's work. However, we should start from the beginning: from 1980's and his "Letters". Who else is writing letters today? Not emails sent in a hurry, not formal notifications, received from offices, banks and companies? Who else conducts correspondence, handwritten, calligraphic, thoughtful? Who shares their thoughts, secrets with others, or discusses topics that concern them? One of the possible answers may be the artist - Bogdan Korczowski. Bogdan has been conducting correspondence, real or imaginary, since 1980. In each of his paintings, not only from the "Ecriture" series, he sends artistic messages: to Kazimierz Malewicz, to Tadeusz Kantor, to You. In return, he asks the recipient to respond in the form of an artistic experience. His letters are written on canvas, full of simple pictograms, ideograms and signs. What is their meaning, are they symbols? That depends only on the viewer. Symbols differ from a pictogram, ideogram or sign in that they have an additional hidden meaning.
It is worth remembering, when looking at the artist's next canvases and their titles. The symbol of this land could be: a Cross, as well as the Star of David, brought by the painter to a legible and simple "X" sign or hexagram. Referring to the first words of the Bible, which say: "In the beginning was the Word", can be translated to: "In the beginning was a pictogram" - a simple drawing, to which the artist gave basic and then symbolic meaning. The level, at which a message from Bogdan Korczowski will be read, depends only on the knowledge, experience and associations of the recipient.
Korczowski is extremely closely associated with his hometown, Kraków, which he describes in the following words: "I was born in Central Europe, I come from a small continent of many cultures". It is a place where different cultures and communities coexist in harmony with each other for centuries. Tadeusz Kantor, a painter admired by Korczowski, is one of the most versatile Polish artists, an author of texts and theatre plays, as well as a performer, lived and worked here.
Korczowski himself considers Kraków to be a cosmopolitan city. Nevertheless, the world that surrounds us, our little homeland, is only a small fragment of the cosmos, which he depicted in the series of canvases "Orbium Coelestium" , "Laniakea" or "Gravity".
The first man who thoroughly, systematically and analytically explored space, and then wrote down his observations and conclusions, was Nicolaus Copernicus. In 1533, the manuscript of his revolutionary work: "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" was completed. Heavenly spheres are also of interest to Korczowski. This is a topic repeatedly discussed and analysed in his paintings, which contain circles or slices of circles. Again, therefore, we can see objects simplified to an easily recognizable sign, most often depicted in yellowish, ochre colours. Is this a polemic with Nicolaus Copernicus, as in the case of "Letters to Kazimierz Malewicz", or an attempt to explore the rules governing the world, the state or the city? Rules, that even the erudite cannot break free from? What to do then? Maybe it is worth following in the footsteps of great explorers and, like Marco Polo, redefine the world around us.
Based on the diaries of this Venetian merchant, who lived in the years 1254-1324, the first "Describing the World" was written. Studying the paintings of Bogdan Korczowski, one can get the impression that they are, in fact, a record of the artist's internal journey, they are his own work of life - a description of the surrounding reality. Travel educates.

Bogdan Korczowski, in his subsequent works, is heading towards Eastern cultures, especially towards Buddhism, as can be seen in the paintings entitled NAMMYO. Buddhist practices, defined in 1253 by Nichiren Daishonin , say that "Namu" - means sacrifice and "Myoho" - mystical law. So, it's time for a spiritual journey, from which it is also worth sending the Letter: thoughtful, carefully written down or, as the artist does, painted.
Ultimately, however, thanks to art, Bogdan Korczowski returns from every journey to his habitat. And it doesn't really matter, if it's Kraków, Paris or New York. As Tadeusz Kantor claimed: "My HOME was and is my work".


Bogdan Korczowski "NAMMYO", 2009
acrylic and collage on canvas; 195 x 112 cm;
(on the reverse signed, dated and described:

.Bogdan Korczowski was born in 1954 in Kraków to which he is still emotionally attached.
In 1978 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków under Professor Wlodzimierz Kunz. He is involved in performance art and painting.
Korczowski made his debut at the Nowa Ruda Festival in 1974 with the performance "Bialy Rower" ("White Bike"). In the 80s he moved to Paris, where he lives to this day. There he obtained a diploma from École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts. In 1986 he was awarded the Regional Council of Ile-de-France Prize for his artistic activity. In 1988 Korczowski received a scholarship from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York, where he has returned many times. In June 1989 a monographic exhibition entitled "Korczowski / Painting" took place at the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw. This exhibition was evidence that despite his debut as a performer and the general trend of contemporary art to experiment with new techniques, Bogdan Korczowski has always been faithful to the most traditional art medium: painting. In 1998, the Polish Institute in Paris organized a retrospective exhibition of the artist. In Paris, the artist collaborated with the Nicole Ferry Gallery for twenty years. In 2004 he participated in the Polish Season in France Nova Polska with two solo exhibitions. The events were organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute to celebrate the Polish accession to the European Union.
The artist uses exaggerated symbols and ideograms in his works, starting with the early series of paintings Listy (Letters / Ecriture), created already in the 80s. This series is a sort of an exchange, or intellectual 'correspondence', which treats writing as an image, a topic which the artist has been obsessed with for a long time. His works often contain small characters arranged in parallel rows just like letters, placed over the actual composition like an iris.
His canvases are covered with thick and irregular multi-colored paint. The artist applies these sudden, spontaneous strokes as if guided by internal impulses, which enhance the expressiveness of the image. The excessive paint often overflows, creating vertical, chaotic and uneven lines. These 'unexpected' streams thicken the already dense texture of the canvas.
Writing about Korczowski's painting, art critic Muriel Carbonnet called it a 'true chromatic drunkenness'. The impressive colours, their expressiveness and dynamism, lend an emotional dimension to the abstract colourism. Due to the interesting color combinations and the sense of spaciousness they produce, some of his paintings make us feel in direct contact with nature. Korczowski creates a world of his own, where different cultures and their traditions mix with natural elements: fire, water, earth and sky.
Though the artist has lived in Paris for many years, he frequently returns to Kraków. "I was born in Central Europe, I come from a small continent of many cultures "- says Korczowski about his cosmopolitan city steeped in tradition.
For him the embodiment of this specific, Cracowian atmosphere is his spiritual master, Tadeusz Kantor, who despite numerous successes in the world, never abandoned his city:
"I am captivated by his art, because memory and the past were two obsessive dimensions in his work." Korczowski dedicated to Tadeusz Kantor the series "Kartonteka", created in the form of an installation. Parts of" Kartonetka" are preserved in public collections in Poland: the National Museum in Poznan and the BWA City Art Galleries in Czestochowa and Lublin. Dozens of elements are found in private collections. In 2010, the Cricoteka in Kraków displayed a photos collection from Cricot2 Theatre productions by Korczowski.
In 2010 BWA City Art Galleries in Gorzow Wielkopolski presented the "Three Decades of Painting 1979-2009" exhibition, which included retrospective-personal look at Korczowski's creative work. In 2011 Paul Delouvrier Museum in Evry/Paris opened an solo exhibition of his latest paintings "Orbium Coelestium" and in 2012 Orangerie de Caillebotte in Yerres/Paris presented large solo exhibition of Korczowski's works.
Korczowski has had about more one hundred individual exhibitions.

More information at: www.korczowski.com

Korczowski Memory 1991

"A Traveler with no Luggage" by Heloise Hautemaniere

This is a horrifying feeling when one observes that he has been more attracted to the shadow than to the light.

Upon discovering the pictures by Bogdan Korczowski, the first impulse is to reject them in order not to get exposed to danger. Let me invite you for an intriguing, disturbing journey to the dark, tormenting and unsettling world of this artist. The memory has been incorporated and it has been picking up a
spatial dimension on the canvases by Korczowski. The places, memories, images have been becoming alive. It seems that they wish to tell us something. As though they were words that avoid being portrayed, the paint drops are speaking to us in various strange languages, they are inventing magic spells and enchanting us. The pictures look as though they wished to say something exceptionally important. The expression of painting has the strongest effect on me when compared to all other ways of describing the world with the language of other fine arts. In fact, there is no other way out, one should keep silent and watch. This is a winner. The matter of the pictures by Korczowski expresses complex tangles of his memory. One simply cannot let this inner nightmare get hold of him. On the picture, there had to be various layers put down, wiped off and started all over again. The tongues of flame sticking out from the picture are the words of a shaman. They enliven the painting, otherwise it could have got exhausted. One should not attempt to extinguish this fire but rather get away from it occasionally. Numerous travels made Bogdan Korczowski a collector and the devourer of visions which he has been offering us on his canvases. His eyes, thus fed, has led his hand to translating all these into painting… As all the little spots thrown against the effort of his life, Korczowski has painted the undefined fragments of memory; the collective and the personal. He has been living in a rush, constantly painting in order to escape death. The core of the matter has always been to leave the trace of one's passing…

Korczowski Copyright©

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No painting may be reproduced, copied, stored, manipulated or used whole or in part of a derivitive work, without the written permission of Korczowski.