Marek Szczesny - Artist statement

"In my work topography plays an important part as a transfiguration of landscape and space, infinity and closure. The lines on my surfaces cover the territory of the painting, dilineating paths, sides of roads, devious routes and highroads in a pictorial map full of depressions, ravines and bulges. I consider myself a nomad wandering over established routes much like a mountain climber retraces the path of previous wanderer."

Painting founded on ethics, says Marek Szczesny, is an art of constructed form, with a history that needs to be processed and a metaphysics that must be fathomed. The act of painting, a constant process of dismounting and reconfiguring anew is not, then in Szczesny's art, an abandonment of the contemporary territory, but a difficult attempt at settling there in a different way. This is not a question of taking root but of an unattainable balance between the current place and the non-place(utopia). This is territory that is not too well defined, torn and glued together, punctured with holes and patched up. Contemporaneity understood in such a way, close to Szczesny's heart, is a balancing between the current and memory, which justifies the current in circular returns, crossing lines, shapes superimposed on one another like carbon copies, in the layers of colors that shine through. What is remembered (invisible) becomes visible during the creation of a painting. Filling the canvas with forms means the gluing together of those biographical crumbs that have stuck in memory as extraordinary into some unfinished whole.

Extract from “Marek Szczesny” by Andrzej Turowski, National Museum of Poznan, 2003


Marek Szczesny was born in Poland in 1939. In the latter half of the 1950's he irregularly attended the State Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk as a free, auto-didactic, student. In the 1960’s he was associated with a group of artists from the 'ZAK' students club in Gdansk. He worked as a scenographer for the group, created posters and showed his first works. In 1978 Szczesny left Poland for Paris where he obtained a Ford Foundation scholarship. During this time he exhibited more than 30 solo exhibitions, as well as participating in many group exhibitions. Selected exhibitions include Agi Schoning, Gallery, Zurich; Rosa Turetsky Gallery, Geneve; FIAC, Paris; Akie Aricchi, Paris; The National Museum in Poznan, Poland, “Polish Art of 20th Century”; Contemporary Center of Art, Toulon, France; Osaka 2001 Triennale International Exhibition of Contemporary Art; and Galeria Foksal, Warsaw. Between 1996 and 2008 he was awarded grants in the United States four times: Edward Albee Foundation in New York; Bemis Center in Omaha; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; and the Gottleib Foundation, New York. He lives and works in Paris.

In art the banality of contact with the everyday is something extraordinary when at the sources of artistic experience there appears an unknown coincidence, some chance encounter, an unexpected tangle of events, or simply an unconventional glance. Among the grayness there are flashes of color. Filling the canvas with forms means the gluing together of those biographical crumbs that have stuck in memory as extraordinary into some unfinished whole; it means emotional returns to one's past, the wrestling with the emptiness of the present times and the ephemeral character of the imagined future. Biography plays a fundamental role in Marek Szczesny's art. In reality, it is a long journey through the world in the uncertainty of having some support in life and in the search for the precision of the shape of painting. We know about it from anecdotal bits and pieces, from beneath which emerge sketchily drawn, as if with charcoal, silhouettes of people, close planes drenched in smoke and jazz, monotonously snowy whites of surfaces, unlimited vistas divided with a chaotic line of mountain ranges. Biography becomes filled with the smell of turpentine of painters studios, with the stench of emigrants digs in New York City and Paris, and with the breath of the glamorous avenues of the world's metropolises. Among all this mess there is a place for Zakopane, which in this biographical journey is an emotional compass point for the unfound whole. The sense of Marek Szczesny's art and life eludes discourse. Biography returns to the beginning which cannot be expressed with words. He believes that the circle of observation, reflection, impressions and expression, in other words of existence and experience can be completed neither by human life nor by artistic creation. Subject to ethical scrutiny, this is a constant circulation between myth, truth, deception, insatiability, pursuit, abandonment, discovery, uncertainty and doubt.

Extract from “Marek Szczesny” by Andrzej Turowski, National Museum of Poznan, 2003