MAREK SOBCZYK (Poland)

Between 1975 and 1980, Sobczyk studied painting under Stefan Gierowski at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In the series of paintings he created as his thesis project, Sobczyk attempted to use color and mood to convey the ugliness and cheapness of life in massive residential blocks, and of life in general in Poland during the Socialist Realist era. This prompted a reaction from the school authorities and they censored his work. In the early 1980s, Sobczyk painted multi-colored, abstract compositions composed of repeating elements and simplified, symbolic natural forms. In 1983 he joined the Gruppa art group, participating in practically all of its actions and co-editing its periodical titled Oj dobrze już / All Right Already, in which he published a number of theoretical texts. In the early 1980s, his canvasses referred mostly to Martial Law (Gandzia, 1983) but also explored the 'Indian' subject matter that was characteristic of his milieu at the time, viewed as an exceptionally contemporary metaphor. In 1983, he and Ryszard Woźniak jointly painted two colossal 'papers'; Sobczyk would produce another four of these, this time with Jaroslaw Modzelewski, towards the end of 1984, when the two artists, having won scholarships, were in West Germany together.

Midway through the 1980s, Sobczyk began to paint highly expressive figurative compositions that were rich in both color and texture. These were distinguishable for the fact that a plethora of themes, references, and symbols appeared in a single canvas. These included works that touched upon religious themes, Sobczyk often creating surprising juxtapositions of updated retellings and tradition (e.g. Biczowanie Chrystusa / The Flaying of Christ from 1988 shows the persecutor wearing the uniform of a concentration camp inmate). After 1989, Sobczyk's paintings remained figurative yet became somewhat decorative and ornamental in style. He proceeded to repaint some of his old paintings, giving them this new formal 'costume' (e.g. Boże Narodzenie / Christmas from 1987). In the 1990s, he created compositions based on a purposely limited set of motifs. These works betrayed the artist's interest for playing with meaning in their titles as well (Bóg skręca / God is Turning, 1992; Polonia Bolonia Dysleksja / Polonia Bologna Dyslexia, 2000). Between 1994 and 1998, Sobczyk worked with Jaroslaw Modzelewski in creating two new series of joint paintings that were ultimately shown at Warsaw's Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle in 1998.

In addition to painting, the artist creates installations and three-dimensional pieces and writes theoretical and literary texts. 1997 saw the appearance of his book titled Uproszczenie sztuki / The Simplification of Art, published by the Galeria Zderzak / Bumper Gallery, which the artist has been working with since the 1980s. Sobczyk also does graphic design for the press and advertising, working in this realm since 1991 with Piotr Młodożeniec, with whom he jointly owns and runs a company called Zafryki. Between 1991 and 1996, Sobczyk and Jarosław Modzelewski jointly ran the private Szkola Sztuki / School of Art in Warsaw.