Editorial Feature

Artist Honza Zamojski reflects on the Polish art scene today

The visual artist talks about the artists he admires and their impact on him

Artist, designer, and book publisher Honza Zamojski works across an array of media including illustration, sculptural drawings, installation, and poetry. Through this varied output Zamojski often addresses problems of perception in the world and the relationship between the individual and reality. Aesthetically, the artist works in a minimalist way but he ensures this stripped back approach is backed up by rich symbolism in order to give his abstract compositions more depth. Here Zamojski discusses the Polish art scene today and which artists from the last 100 years he continues to admire.

Two Retired Eggs by Honza Zamojski, 2015

How did you first get into art? What's your background?

Ten years ago I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts with a Masters in Art. For the last decade I have been involved in organizing exhibitions, publishing books, and teaching students. I prefer working on multiple concepts instead of singular artworks.

How would you describe the work you create and your style?

I deal with drawing and books, but sometimes those simple forms extend and fill the space of the entire gallery, or take on other forms that will surprise the viewer. For instance, the sculpture could be a drawing, or the book could be an exhibition. I've been told there's a lot of humor in what I'm doing, and someone has even recently told me: "What you do is humorous, but not funny”!

Trojan Home by Honza Zamojski, 2016
A-NA-TO-MY by Honza Zamojski, 2016

What art do you remember seeing when growing up? Was it a big part of your life when you were younger?

When I was a child, I was most impressed by the engravings of the hominids (members of the ape family) that I saw in a Soviet anthropology book. However it was my uncle, who is a graphic designer, who convinced me to study at the Academy of Fine Arts.

At the end of my studies, I had some doubts about what I really wanted to do; I still have them. Only a few years after graduation, I began to consciously work on my own aesthetic language and the ethics of artistic practice. I always say to my students: “Most of you will not carry on with this line of work, and those who become artists will do other things than what you’ve done in college”.

Are there any Polish artists from the last 100 years that you still finding inspiring?

It’s more of a fascination with particular artworks, rather than inspiration. I much appreciate performances by Cezary Bodzianowski, ethnographic and theatrical activity of Paulina Ołowska, the latest paintings by Aleksandra Waliszewska, drawings and gouaches by Juliusz Studnicki, and a series of geometric abstractions by Robert Maciejuk.

As for older more historical artworks, I highly value parts of Andrzej Wróblewski's work, visual poetry (from baroque to modernist compositions), posters by Henryk Tomaszewski, and I recently rediscovered some fascinating paintings by Maria Anto. I enjoy enormously the works of these artists, but I don’t treat them as guideposts for the direction of my own creative path.

Untitled, Robert Maciejuk (From the collection of Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź)
Aleksandra Waliszewska (From the collection of Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu)
Aleksandra Waliszewska (From the collection of Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu)

How does the Polish art scene differ from other scenes in European countries?

At this moment, the only real difference is the scale of action. However, all other elements: gallery appearances in the international art fairs, networking, exhibition quality, and the secondary art market are part of the same global art world, and it is difficult to point to a specific quality that would distinguish the actions of Polish artists from international ones. Although, the latest relatively contemporary "trend", which was expressive and was described in detail by many critics and art historians, is the so-called "critical art" that was developed during the 90s.

What trends have developed in the scene now compared to when you first started working? What is the Polish art scene like today?

The Polish scene is the same as anywhere else – it’s diverse and at the same time easily absorbing trends. Artists are ambitious, but often frustrated. Female artists have more difficulties than male artists, but this is slowly changing. Art is a space of freedom for many outsiders, and at the same time an oasis of conservative behavior. It is difficult for me to imagine a situation where a contemporary work of art begins to affect the everyday reality of people unrelated to art in some significant way.

Poster for Kordian by Juliusz Słowacki at the Powszechny Theatre, Warsaw by Henryk Tomaszewski (From the collection of Theatre Institute in Warsaw)
Poster for King John by Friedrich Dürrenmatt at the Dramatic Theatre, Warsaw by Henryk Tomaszewski (From the collection of Theatre Institute in Warsaw)
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