Professor Sławomir Gzell, DSc, engineer architect, Honorary Doctorate
About Filip Kurzewski`s art, in 2010
Our first glance at Filip Kurzewski`s drawings/pictures and we seem to know a ready answer: Science Fiction genre. But we give up such an opinion quickly and with relief after thinking for a while about what we look at. Kurzewski is not one more author of comics about the future and he is not an illustrator of a novel which they happen in. Although both Lem and Tolkien as well would have been satisfied with their cooperation with him, I think that his creative activity is closer to that of cheerful Kafka than to that of the above mentioned writers. Kafka wrote about the present time - terrible adventures of Mr K. do not happen in an unknown place, but here and now, and perhaps inside his heart of hearts. They are the texts about solitude, strangeness and isolation in the surroundings, they are about compassion, however we do not always deal with a full text which is provided with a title and it is not given in excerpts, that is, they also need some comments or consideration in their formal structure.
Similarly the same situation is with Kurzewski`s drawings/pictures when we talk about their form, that is why I give them their double names, and even now writing about them, I do not know what they are indeed.
The part of them are certainly the drawings made with an unusual skill, using markers of different width and different degree of their wear makes the lines carried out by these markers have various shades of black and grey. But we also see the drawings colored by means of crayons, paints, colorful markers, then (and perhaps before) scratched and scraped, whitened and darkened; that is why it is difficult to call it a drawing. Some new carrier of message is created and probably it has a chance to be richer and richer - initially
I wrote more and more modern - because Kurzewski does not avoid using a computer either and it is visible especially in his architectural works.
Kurzewski draws/paints the present, indicating what is according to him essential in it. He achieves that enough simply, changing the proportion between the components of depicted landscapes.
Since these landscapes in majority of instances consist of things and people only so the change of proportions manifests itself in relationship between them, however, as a rule, the things themselves surpass a human being. The truth about a man`s fate is included in the above statement; with difficulties but perhaps with curiosity he moves in the world full of surprises; and forced by the circumstances to take great tasks; rather lonely because in his wandering throughout the painted landscapes he does not have a lot of companions.
It is just Kafka`s "shrillness of life which is fortunately sometimes only realized by the majority of people", as Elias Canetti wrote about Franz Kafka`s letters to Felicia Bauer; we read these letters about their long-term dying of their love and engagement. In Kurzewski`s works this can be seen the best in the Portal of the Cathedral in Rennes. A short little man standing in front of the cathedral in Rennes is nearly unnoticeable, he merges into the background and the tile floor which they also anyway have the blurred shapes, and they are rather greyish fog with dim scaffoldings than the real surrounding of the cathedral. The most important thing is of course the cathedral itself but its portal does not look like a masterpiece of Gothic engineering art. Kurzewski`s work was seriously turned into a kind of scenery, that is, not a theatrical one, but a part of life - because of it`s domination over the man with a raised head standing in front of the building. The strength personalized of the portal, seemingly, does not notice him because it takes care of itself; it darkens and brightens the parts of architecture fairly freely, it emphasizes whatever it wants using a vast palette of colors, it shakes the spout
advanced in the direction of the looking little man. We tremble with fear a little , but on the other hand we are also interested in the possibilities of this strength, besides the person standing in front of the cathedral does not look frightened. Maybe he has marched through the other landscapes created by Kurzewski, and those do not always look hospitable.
The landscapes sometimes resemble some scrap yards with various endeavors which did not manage to take off or they resemble a forgotten military installation with the remains of cargo aircrafts mixed with wrecked ships. What we could call a natural landscape in Kurzewski`s works appears in the background or in the separate pictures. Instead we have mega-teflon flowers, mega-muffs, mega-screws and vises, complicated pipe connections, abandoned pipe coils on the roadside. We can wonder what the function of the sheets covering some parts of the land is; they look as if they were the places of works - but what kind of them?
The mechanics ( salvagers?) appear there rarely , and any strenuous work cannot be seen, and also we do not expect any rain or the sun because we do not discern any clouds or the sky. The perspective, the distances and mutual connections of objects are little vital in these works created by Kurzewski, we have the impression that if we subtracted or added something, it would not happen anything crucial, as it sometimes happens on the site with some machine pieces, we do not know anything certain about, we know neither what they are used for nor why they were or why they wil be built. Everything is in a modern form of Piranesi`s works. Piranesi filled up the drawn stairs with the other things because he did not know the objects used nowadays. Or else we deal with the mechanist variant of Archimboldo`s works, as far as we succeed in discovering any allegory in the presentation - but it is the issue of a particular viewer.
Such a description of Kurzewski`s works could mean that there is not anything in them we could name a composition. On the contrary, Kurzewski has his thorough studies of architectural drawing at the Architecture Department at Warsaw University of Technology behind him and even though he did not
want, the rules of composing the plane of drawing and its creation are recognized. I could name them even classic, relating them to the first period of this school formation, and certainly to the just post-war period.
In those days they drew showing the construction of the reproduced objects with the emphasis put on their outlines, the essence and the shape of intermingling solids.
Such drawings made Zygmunt Kamiński, Eugeniusz Szparkowski and Henryk Dąbrowski; only recently, when the role of the drawing as a concrete illustration of the building form was taken over by the computer techniques, the style closer to impression than to an engineering concrete began to find expression, also represented by the outstanding painters such as Franciszek Maśluszczak and Włodzimierz Karczmarzyk or graphic artists such as Adam Sufiński. It seems to me that Kurzewski does not benefit from this proposal of our drawing school. In his works there are not water-color landscapes, the hand-made works are the announcement of his works made by means of a computer, that is, architectural designs.
You can say that the part of them as announced just in his hand-made drawings which thereby became the announcement of New Architectures drawn by Kurzewski. The designed objects have the organic shapes; it is hardly to say what the material they could be made of; in their origin you can see not only the matter formation of a hard type but also a soft one, that is, the light, the color, the imagination and the anecdotes and perhaps the serious story.
The answer called "The Valley of Butterflies" exceeds any expectations and even without looking at the architectural proposal it compels us to think.
And these proposals lead to the creation of scenery of urban life quite different from that already existing, however you cannot blame their author for his engineering ignorance. Everything is possible to be built, but the aesthetics of new buildings is not yet understandable, perhaps even for investors and future dwellers.
As it usually happens to the designs departing from the Versailles aesthetics in favor of the new
aesthetics in which the house have the shape of cuboids, and the colors are colors and they do not derive from dilute paints to be used for covering alleged real plaster, and the art of creating a landscape joins all its elements in a harmonious whole.
I think that this quality of Filip Kurzewski`s creative activity is visible the best at this stage of his work. It is an autonomous and intellectually cohesive creative activity. Its particular signs are just harmoniously connected. The drawings used to be changed into tapestries and then the color gains more and more significance, next the three-dimensional works, modest sculpture and rich architecture appear.
Apparently it is not the hermetic creative activity. You can even venture to say that it is in the best sense of the word so-called "street art" ,that is, presenting the human surrounding which is generally a street, public places and the habitation, and so it is shown that there is as little as possible the separation from other people in it.
I think that therefore this style of drawing the seemingly comics or the seemingly scenery for MTV mentioned at the beginning of my essay is present because they are the forms of an artistic message that will convince the throng of art consumers the best in the future.
And I write that regardless of how far I do not have a taste for telediscs - except those ones which belong to the genuine art as it is offered by Filip Kurzewski to us.