Artophilia  •  12590   •  3 March 2018

Antoni Kowalski

Antoni Kowalski was born on July 10th, 1957 in Wyszatyce near Przemyśl. He graduated from the High School of Fine Arts in Jarosław in 1977. He studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow – branch in Katowice. He obtained a diploma with honors in painting under supervision of prof. Jerzy Duda-Gracz and Graf Graphic Design Studio of prof. Tomasz Jura in 1982. During 1994-2000, Kowalski was a lecturer at the European Academy of Arts in Warsaw. In 2009 he was awarded the title of professor of visual arts. Currently full professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice. Member: Manhattan Graphics Center, NY, USA, Association of International Print Triennial in Krakow. Honored by the President of the Republic of Poland with the Golden Cross of Merit in 2014. Numerous artistic journeys around Europe, the USA and China. He lives and works in Katowice.

Jerzy Duda-Gracz about the work of Antoni Kowalski: ‘(…) What to say about the art of a mature, well-formed artist with an impressive output? Even so, I will try, since he has not denied to know me, but I will truly try, because I have not read in the reviews, reviews and compliments of his work what I think is the most important. I am thinking, of course, about the skills, which in the case of Antoni Kowalski, not only stress his individuality, mastery and the possibility of expression, but it is also, and perhaps above all, the key to reading his paintings. I want to say that, apart from his talent, spiritual predilections and diligence, it takes a great deal of courage to manifest respect for the tradition of imagery in the area of contemporary art and to improve artistic skills. This most often results in accusations of commercialism or in being treated as an outsider in an international group of illiterate painters, obsessed with the dogmatic obsession to look for “something new”.

Antoni Kowalski, thanks to his artistry, is not looking for anything in art but rather finds it. He finds something that is not only new, but above all it’s his own. (Few can do it, although almost everyone thinks that he “paints for himself”. In fact, only when we paint “from ourselves”, we paint in our own way). His skills are also a testimony of humbleness towards art, i.e. an awareness of heritage; awareness of continuing and drawing on the experience of centuries, without an epigone complex.

Antoni Kowalski paints with classical techniques: oil and pastel, which, as you can see in the paintings, do not have any secrets for him. How could another virtuoso Konstanty Andrzej Kulka have said: “Technical difficulties? I do not see any”. He uses these techniques freely but so disciplinedly and carefully that one can clearly see the author’s ability to create a work. Although the paintings are created slowly, the artist has never succumbed to temptation and did not cross this boundary of virtuosity (…). His meticulous method of work, a specific painting order and its hard rules, even without reading the titles of works, show us that we experience sacred images. That we touch the Mystery, Eternity and All That which on the carousel of today civilization’s acceleration is a human longing for something holy, beautiful and good.

Personally, I do not want to read messages and meanings of Antoni Kowalski’s paintings because of the same principle, as I find no reason to explore the Dogma of the Holy Trinity. I am not interested in “what the artist wanted to say” because I simply believe him, and the comments of courteous commentators and reviewers are boring to me. I do not want to spoil the pleasure of silent looking and praying without words. It is enough that the paintings are beautiful and “holy” because they were beautifully and prayerfully painted. At this moment, I realize that the painting method, the skills, allow to imagine a given idea and a sanctification of things. Thanks to specific ecumenism, the content and form makes abstraction a visible and even a material world.

This world captivates me and the fact that Antoni Kowalski, as the successor of the tradition of Latin American culture and art, cutting off from the avant-garde neo-barbarians, has reversed the order of things. In contrast to all others, he did not follow the “as God has commanded” innovative path from nature to abstraction, but he built reality from abstract.

Of course, this is an unreal reality, a spiritual, mystical and sacred reality, but nonetheless it has become a material fact. It has become an image, at the same time ennobling the word and the notion of the image (…). One would like to say: what a perverse revolutionary holiness of Antoni Kowalski. I appreciate it because it is the opposite of the zeal of devout artists, who are non-believers, who do not even dare to think “Veni Creator Spiritus!”.

/Professor Jerzy Duda-Gracz, April 2002.

Important individual exhibitions:

– Foyer Teatr Śląski Gallery, Katowice
– BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Olsztyn

– BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Kielce
– BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Busko Zdrój

– BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Rzeszów
– MOK Gallery, Dębica

– Rondo Sztuki Gallery, Katowice
– Municipal Art Gallery “MM” Chorzów

– Contemporary Art Gallery “Elektrownia”, Czeladź

– Contemporary Art Gallery, Przemyśl
– BWA Contemporary Art Gallery, Olsztyn, retrospective

– Silesian Theater, Katowice

– Silesian Museum, Katowice, retrospective
– Chateau de Bourscheid – Schubertiade Luxembourg

– Artemis Gallery, Cracow

– Silesian Theater, Katowice

– Gallery 1112 The Society For Arts, Chicago, USA

– Zapiecek Gallery, Warsaw

– Contemporary Art Gallery, Płock

– Zapiecek Gallery, Warsaw
– BWA Gallery, Zamość

He took part in around 400 collective exhibitions in Poland and abroad.
Important prizes:

– nominated for the Artworld Printmaker Competition, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

– Finalist of the XI Biennale Internationale per I’ncisione-Premio Acqui 2013, Acqui Terme, Italy

– Honorable award 11th Media Global Art Annual Artists of today Art Addiction Medial Museum, London, UK
– Diploma of Excellence Graphic Art 6 Online Annual, London, UK
– Certificate of Excellence Palm Art Award, Leipzig, Germany,

– Diploma of Excellence – 3 Art Now global art annual 2008-09, London, UK
– Diploma of Excellence – I Biennial of Contemporary Art 2008-2009, London, UK

– “Artist in Residence” – graphic workshop, Guanlan, China

– Medial 2 Art Award Biennial London, UK

– Scholarship of the Minister of Culture and Art

– First prize in the National Competition for Drawing about the Grand Prix Faber Castell, Poznań

– Painting Award – International Art Competition, Pyramid Gallery, New York, USA










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