Piotr Olszówka

Tadeusz Szy³³ejko

Jurgen Huber



...and so I had to define my attitude to all those coils, cylinders, phallic emblems and whatnot. Landscape is obviously three-dimensional by nature, but we somehow tend to transpose it onto two dimensions, and then all of a sudden you get three dimensions again... that never fails to surprise and inspire, and it's not merely a question of that aesthetic force where observation reaches beneath the surface of things. In that sense the objects the artist hints at are transparent. It's, you know, very sensual, it can be touched, you can almost smell and walk among these "landscapes." It is new and it is fun - it has always been like that with Pruski: he has fun, and you have fun looking at his pictures; he enjoys his work - and it all smells of lakes, reeds, sweet flag, it is Mazurian in its mood and intent...

Sometimes he is a Picasso, drawing a nude with a single line or tossing off erotic "shenanigans" on the paper. Another time he is a Dubuffet, inspired by ritualistic African sculpture when he covers kitchen planks with black geometrical patterns or when he sets his "Two monks" in rhythmic rhombuses. He can be a WOLS when his line becomes nervous, delicate and creates wholeness and meaning as if against its will. His views of the lake-land are a response to the "concrete abstraction" of Leon Tarasewicz not only because his pared down idiom renders the landscape of northern Poland with no less compassion than the Belarusian painter does the beauty of its eastern borderlands, but also because both artists take landscape painting beyond two dimensions: Tarasewicz fills interiors with landscape by painting directly on adjacent walls, Pruski lends a vicarious, parallel existence to landscape within the object - a pipe, a block, a solid board covered with the speculation, the suggestion, the veneer of a landscape. He does not treat minimalism as a means to an artistic end: it is a value in itself which in his Mazurian landscapes achieves a unity of representation and atmosphere - for how better to capture the silence, calmness and ascetic greyness of the misty lake, the island outlined in rushes and reeds, or the intuited shoreline? Only by showing yourself unsure that they exist, especially in terms of form, tangibility, and susceptibility to being put in models and patterns. Pruski is no stranger to this hesitation, so befitting the methodological sceptic: "Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe this way, maybe that. What does exist is my doubting in the obviousness of the you see it all, the way you see me, my art, our undoubtedly beautiful world!"

.... I don't care whether his affinities are elective or accidental, and besides you can't paint as if no one had ever painted before, and reading references to predecessors into an artist's work is like stringing beads onto the necklace of culture. Just assume that he's become another Hakuin, that those bricks and pipes of his are just a Zen joke on the inability of showing the blinding light of the real - like a phenomenologist, he only grants true existence to that which appears to him in direct observation. I accept your sublimity but I prefer listening to the silence of these paintings, to the rustling November silence on the bank of lake M.

reeds on the island

the lake shimmers within me

the ducks leave today

You said there was no point writing about art? Not about trivial art there isn't.

Piotr Olszówka


         Well, I thought Jan Pruski had calmed down and settled down a bit, after all those dramatic warriors, his “Teresas” and his “Sickheads”, and that he'd finally got the urge to take it easy and say to himself 'time to put my feet up for a while.' I thought he'd be contemplating his calm, refined landscapes - or rather his echoes of landscapes - not only his canvases, but also his three-dimensional forms, cylinder surfaces and blocks...

        But what have we got? An eruption of distaste for the world. Hammering of fists on the table. His new cycle 'Klatki' links with the ancient theme of the dance macabre, morality sobbing over the wretchedness of the world. It's a whole little theatre, full of dolls on wires, folk in prison, incapacitated, bound together with string and wire, packed in tin can coffins. Here's a couple tied together for good and bad, from birth to the grave. There's a gaggle of people packed together in a cage; unhappy wretches, restrained by strong fetters, they remain motionless in the eternal ritual dance of life and death; and among them saunter spectres, their names emblazoned on sashes: Deceit, Jealousy, Hate, Gossip.

        And what are these three figures doing, with their smart ball gowns and white crowns, like masks from the Carnival of Venice, strutting a step of the gavotte from Mozart's Don Giovanni? One thing I know. I wouldn't have wanted to get in our Jan's way while he was creating his little world of theatre. The load of phlegm and fury carried here is enough to strike you down with a thunderbolt from a substantial distance; his anger bears the power of a Voodoo curse.

Tadeusz Szy³³ejko

Rhomboids. Landscape materials. Means of recognition.

Jan Pruski is on intelligent artist. Watching him work I was struck by his concentrated, decisive approach. His whole body paints - his intellect marks out the direc­tion, he reconsiders, re-forms earlier work and takes, from the many possible paths, the next step forward. Each stroke is emotional, impulsive, passionate, his artwork verges on brutality. All these intermediate steps are, though, a result of Pruski's reflective, ruthless self-focusing. An impulsive process of creative thought and energy is apparent. Pruski wants, I think, to create in us, his viewers, a certain reverie and intelligent appreciation, together with emotions bordering on obsess/on. His works are not 'art brut’ as we know it from the works of Dubuffet or the psychiatrist, Prinzhorn. We may talk here of the classic understanding of the landscape form, of mystical primaeval shrines, fantastic drawings - fantastic because they are born from a fan­tasy of complex structures with secret entrances - not a copied form but an archaic prototype. In Pruski's work rocks become inhabitable apartment blocks. His works are not reflections of himself, not memoirs or a description of the state of things. These are proto­types, pictures within pictures, to me they are a source of the most important questions; who am I - where have I come from - where am I going? Who knows? Pruski does not completely desert us, leaving us alone with his artwork, but he offers too little help in the learning of his alphabet, giving us too much freedom: he allows us to conceive our own images - he himself looks on, distant, reserved, reticent. Wild thoughts' of the kind described by Claude Levi Strauss, are pro­voked by his artwork. The beauty of his visions of nature soothes, and induces contemplation - such visions there certainly are - but at the same time these visions portray another aggressive, threatening side of nature. There is a palpable hunger for freedom, exposing us to constant discontent. This dichotomy is disturbing.

Jan forces himself on his budding creation like a demented warrior, like a punk wrecking his guitar. Brutal strokes, violent lunges, clawing, stabbing. His use of soft brush strokes is rare. His raw material: cement, glued paper, cardboard - he rips it off, sticks it anew: again and again. He cuts thick gashes into the picture, fills them, like dry needle technique, tarry blackness, smearing, rubbing the whole work, constantly repeat­ing the same manoeuvres. Suddenly very subtle, deli­cate forms begin to emerge, landscape, elements of countryside, which nonetheless fail to hide their scars, their painful inheritance, possessing beauty with­out illusions, respected, untarnished. Like cult figures in rites of passage. Eventually one can discern filigree boats, boats, or perhaps only sails and masts, those elements Indispensable for sailing away - boats in the distance, in an uncertain and yet hopeful future, Finally he reveals to us his one real 'means'.

Jan Pruski, the intelligent artist shows us the means, processes, thoughts and actions - but not the banal.

Jurgen Huber