The eponymous ‘phantasmagoria’ are a reference to fantastic visions generated by excited imagination. On the other hand, this word can be used also to describe impressions invoked by mixing dreams and magical worlds with consciousness and that what is real. Michał Zaborowski’s painting art includes these two elements as well; reality and magic enchanted in motifs taken from mythology, world of circus and carnival. The artist himself says that he never 'makes up', he sources his painting themes directly in what is visible with the naked eye. Often the paintings on display use the concept of disguise, and masks concealing faces, not only those of participants to carnival, but also of people in the famous painting by Velázquez. To a certain degree, this prop can be associated with suspension of the usual and of the everyday life, it prompts unusual behaviour, a swap of roles and momentary transformation of identity. Similar associations are evoked by the artist’s canvas showing humans in company of animals, which in a way are a symbol of the animal aspect of the homo sapiens species. These matches suspend antitheticality of descriptions 'human’ and 'animal’, placing the equality sign between all living creatures and pointing to their shared features.
In total, 28 works have been presented at the exhibition, including drawings and painting works, beginning from the oldest one created in 2016, and ending with the newest canvas, which so far have not been presented at any exhibition. Works on paper are a part of the exhibition, too; they offer insight into the artistic workshop, and evidence lightness, spontaneity, and pleasure in creation. Some of these are an echo of artistic journeys and memories of the mysterious Serenissima, with all its splendour and melancholy.
In Zaborowski’s art, one can see the ease with which he uses different artistic conventions, both realism similar to Edward Hopper and Lucian Freud, with which he conquered the hearts of many an art lover, and solutions that have not been applied to such a degree earlier, typical for artists representing fauvism, surrealism, as well as pop-art. The artists’ erudition shows itself also in direct references to the most famous masterpieces in the history of art, such as ‘Las Meninas’ by Velázquez, or ‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge’ by El Lissitzky, that are read in a new manner.
In spite of the fact that a substantial part of Zaborowski’s work is a paean to human individual, his or her internal world and culture being the fruit of many generations, the exhibition - as the artist himself has remarked - outlines an outstandingly broad spectrum of his interests in painting. The exhibition is a return of themes that are particularly privileged by the artist, such as beauty and sensuality of a feminine body, and universality of messages contained in ancient myths and biblical stories that are increasingly forgotten foundations of contemporary cultures. Zaborowski’s works not only make people sensitive to great technique solutions, but also indicate an important problem of nowadays societies as well. In the era of progress and novelty cults as well as incessant quest for technologies and improvements, the artist is making no shortcuts. He is steady in reaching for the painting medium that many a time was called anachronism and foreboded natural death. His canvas belie such opinions and prove that even in the 21st century, painting is an important means of expression and contact with viewers, and still has great potential. He is fully resolute to reach out for themes that now and then, due to insufficient humanist knowledge of the viewers, become less and less legible and cease to imply timeless values. However, according to the artist, the strength of the painting art does not lie in inviting viewers to make intellectual effort. Zaborowski stressed repeatedly that he believed in universal nature of the arts, which through their innate characteristics and fine-tuned techniques invoke subjective emotions, evoke deepest feelings, and make people reflect. In spite of many developments that took place in the art during recent decades, its objective remains to be formal search, including experiments in building compositions, choosing colours, and first and foremost, driving aesthetical emotion.
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