Steadfast and unflattering, the machines of Andrzej Zielinski convey permanence and monumentality as they loom large in the foreground of his paintings or appear in three-dimensional form as sculptures. Zielinski captures the threatening shadow that accompanies these objects while simultaneously giving them an uncanny sense of leavened humanity.
Composed via a mix of techniques rendering a complex texture, Zielinski produces works of endless fascination. His fluid brushstrokes are reminiscent of William de Kooning with the machine treated as a figurative subject. Yet a seemingly effortless hand is balanced with a laborious process of layering the paint so that it eventually mimics sculptural material. Brushstrokes executed at various speeds and rises and ridges fashioned from layering and scraping paint coalesce into complicated surfaces that seem almost topographical. This orchestration of paint application joltingly mirrors the function of technology where the complex calculations and functions are carried out behind the façade of a sleek streamed lined machine.
Zielinski presents a material representation of technologies whose seamless immaterial communications imbue our every moment and interaction, choosing shredders, scanners, cell phones and computers as his subject. The artist distorts and destabilizes the objects, stripping them of their stark mechanical feel in favor of a radiance that glows against their minimalist backgrounds. Each of Zielinski’s works exudes a personality, the hallmark of individuality.
Using aspects of Cubism in a more physically robust manner, Zieliński rises from a clear historical thread running from late Cezanne through the analytical cubism of Braque and Picasso and onto de Kooning’s breakthrough in abstraction in the 1950’s. His paintings retain such influences but combine the traditional painting genres of portraiture and icon painting inasmuch as they are dedicated to objects that our contemporary culture has deemed emblematic. Or perhaps his work can more accurately be located within the European tradition of Nature Morte, working with the age-old materials of a paintbrush and canvas in addition to utilizing collage.
In Stuck Shredder (2012-13), the depiction of a shredder processing paint in lieu of paper exhibits a self-conscious concern for the works’ placement in the history of art. A shredder enacts destruction—of images or of official files—and thus functions as a symbol of anonymity. Here, the shredder is manifested as a referent to abstraction, recalling the chaos inherent to works like that of Jackson Pollock’s drips. Yet the danger of anonymity also pervades the works. A text from a cell phone or an email portends the dissolution of the self into an anonymous figure—that is, an abstracted voice–and represents entry into a world in which social relationships are conducted primarily or even strictly in cyberspace and under its cloak of concealment.
Zielinski’s sculptures, which combine Plexiglas, paint, bronze and granite, communicate with the viewer with even more immediacy. Inspired by the bas-relief common in the ancient center of Rome, a city in which the artist has spent some time, the faux machines invite the viewer to interface with them—it’s practically impossible to resist pushing their buttons. The methodically designed and painted bases function as integral parts of the works. Purple Laptop Inserting Start-up disc, 2013 for example, has a pedestal with painted edges that suggests a conduit of energy between the surroundings and the sculpture of a laptop resting on top.
In contrast to some of his contemporaries, painting and sculpture are for Zielinski physical realities resulting from traditional processes rather than machine-made and -marked productions. The works are universally readable, portraying ubiquitous objects based on generic design templates that have become the modern vernacular for daily life. We are, after all, consumers of the same gadgets, and one day we may be subsumed by them. Until then, the spectrum of Zieliński’s works creates a visual software program where the imagination of the viewer stands at its integral core.
Born: 1976, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, Zielinski holds an MFA from Yale School of Art (2004) and a BA from The Art Institute of Chicago(2002). His recent solo exhibition were: 2013 Object Possession, JANE: TERZIAN PROJECTS, Bantam, Connecticut. 2012, Output Devices, Gallery 9, Sydney, Australia and Interfaces, The Dolphin Gallery, Kansas City, MO. His recent group exhibitions were: 2013 THANKS FOR THE WARNING, The Dolphin Gallery, Kansas City, MO. 2012 Oppenheimer Collection · a 20th Anniversary Celebration The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS. I AIM TOO HIGH, The Dolphin Gallery, Kansas City, MO. Andrzej Zieliński’s work is in the public collections of Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra, ACT, Australia and the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia.