Marcin Owczarek, born in 1985. Lives and works in Belgium.
My art has always focused on the condition of our globe and the condition of man. I use photography and collage to create surreal images that are thematically focused on identity, dreams, new technologies, bio-science, the unconscious, morals, social situations, behaviours, habits, rituals, biological changes, depression in urban environments- which have signicant impact on human life. To observe. To document. As a result, I create the image of the 21 century and the image of our current society filled with allusions, metaphors, allegories.
Before starting new work, I always do a conceptual sketch which is very deliberate. I never use particular characters accidentaly. The universe I create and the reflection I want to transmit, must be shaped in perfect way. In case of characters I employ for example animals - as symbols or allegories. In this way they reflect human's virtue or imperfection. In many of my images I use birds since they symbolize the human soul trapped in the mortal body. In my work called 'The Last Drop of Water' I employed elephants. Elephant is a symbol of peace, strength, compassion and wisdom. In Tibet elephant holds the whole cosmos. On my image elephants are burning and they long for water. I think the interpretation is obvious. Other example when I use monuments or buildings, these elements have also historical, metaphorical or symbolic connotations. For instance, the main buliding in my artwork 'The Keeper of the City Key' is library. If we refer to the symbolic language, we learn that library is defined as the source of mystery, knowledge and might. The library is also very closely related to labyrinth, that is why all these manekines in my image are forced to lead with labyrinth (of life).
By using various symbols and depth of mening intentionally, I want my art to be interpreted on many levels. Therefore you can also notice that there are many smaller images in one image I finish. This subtle meanings tells you – you can open as many doors as you want and interpret my collages day after day in different way. Possibilities are endless.
THE WAY HE WORKS. TEXT BY JUTTA MELCHERS.
Photo Artist Marcin Owczarek compares the initial moment of creation of a new artwork to a voyage. He uses thousands of single photographs, each of which he considers with extreme care before commencing the artistic process. He starts by sketching the image he wishes to generate on a piece of paper; a purely conceptual step. He subsequently turns to the computer to “give birth” to what he wanted to achieve via his sketch, resulting in a collage. The time required for this creation process differs greatly. “The City of Illusion”, for example, took Marcin Owczarek three months to finish, with the artist working on his collages between twelve and fourteen hours each day.
At the beginning of his career as an artist, Owczarek used to create traditional collages on paper. Meanwhile, he works exclusively at the computer, as digital collage offers him many more opportunities to articulate his thought processes and perceptions. It also allows him to connect complex elements and reflections and to shape them into a coherent universe. His art consists of photography, painting and traditional collage elements, which he combines with the support of a computer programme called Photoshop.
The essence of his art lies in his attempt to create the passage of time, which will remain contemporary in centuries to come. This is the result of past history, his present observations and, finally, his personal prophecies. He believes that each decade of human history is equally important in order to comprehend the entire process. This is why some themes are essentially universal and will recur as long as this world exists. In the final analysis, Marcin Owczarek believes that art is activism; it should demolish walls as opposed to building them up. As an artist, he describes the feelings and places that other people seek to hide from their fellow men, or simply forget.
By using many symbols intentionally, Marcin Owczarek wishes his art to be interpreted at many levels. In his eyes, the collage is the ideal medium to reflect both human virtues and imperfections.
‘PARADISE LOST’: AN ESSAY.
The Book of Genesis describes the biblical Garden of Eden (Paradise) which was created by God for the first man and woman - Adam and Eve. It is believed that God formed human beings to live in a Paradise and told them to multiply and coexist with animals, plants and everything else that He had made. It was the time of innocence; the first humans lived with God in harmony with nature. The rivers and lakes were crystal clear and no thievery or sin was known.
In the garden, God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the eating of whose fruits was prohibited. Tricked by the serpent, Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree and were banished from Paradise in consequence. The expulsion was a fact. The Paradise was lost. The soul was trapped in a mortal body. The act of the fruit’s consumption was deemed the original sin committed by Adam and Eve, and subsequently became known as the Fall of Man. The Fall corrupted both human nature and the entire natural world. In that moment, humankind became mortal, the state of innocence passed away and the present world full of suffering and injustice was instituted. It is important to recall that, from this moment onwards, people were also forced to embark on a search for redemption, seeking ways to restore the state of innocence and attain eternal life once more.
As my art focuses chiefly on the human condition, I attempted to find the best metaphor for the current phase of my artistic process and remembered the ‘mythical catastrophe’ known as ‘The Fall’. As a result, I decided to use it as a conceptual spectrum and metaphor for my own subjective reflections which are taken from the contemporary world, and named the series of photographs ‘Paradise Lost’. I believe that this title perfectly combines the ‘fallen past’ with the 21st century.
My series of photographs links the idea of the degradation of the first humans with the degeneration of humanity through the centuries up to the present day. The title is symbolic, and describes the state of being away from the holy space inhabited by God, the lack of justice, the weakness of will, tendency to moral evil, jealousy, hypocrisy, greediness and wars. The question I ask in ‘Paradise Lost’ is: what is our relationship with other human beings and the planet? How do we treat the planet in which we live? Why, through the centuries, has humanity failed to find a cure for the general madness which reigns, all those burning landscapes and wars which are still present in the human world?
What is the meaning of ‘Art’ in ‘Lost Paradise’? My intention was to conduct an investigation into the depths of human existence, creating images which move the audience and inspire serious reflection. In my opinion, art should lead us towards the truth and give testimony about this planet. To me, art doesn’t have to be ‘pretty’ or ‘nice’, but must transmit significant meaning and chart historical changes. In my narrative, the journey begins in biblical times, addressing Ancient Greek and Indo-European cultural myths before finally encountering contemporary dystopian societies which are unable to cope adequately with technology, as technological progress is far more rapid than humanity's spiritual evolution. I think that we initially need to understand the influence of the past before being able to reveal and describe the present world we live in. Although my artworks belong to our daily life, I intentionally refer to the past and anticipate the future.
If, as it is said, it is true that humanity is, in essence, a single family, with everyone descended from a single pair of original ancestors, why do we fight and fail to respect one another? Why has man proved to be so destructive and devastated the planet so intensely, simultaneously eradicating most animal species known in Paradise – elephants, rhinoceroses, wolves, seals and fish?
One interpretation has it that, after the Fall of Man, Paradise was finally destroyed by the great flood. I believe we still have time and can change the shape of the present world in order to avoid another catastrophe of this magnitude. Marcin Owczarek, 2015
Limited edition of 7+2AP
'THE CITY OF ILLUSION' AN ESSAY
The idea to create "The City of Illusion" was born after visiting two cities. One of these was the city of Gdańsk, situated in Poland, while the other was magical Bruges in Belgium. In Gdańsk, I met the character which appears in the foreground of the work, with a raven perched on his hand. He is magician whose role is to create the illusion that people will believe in. The "third eye" on his hat tells us that he has supernatural skills. He can see what others cannot, and he is able to anticipate the future. The raven on his hand is also significant. In many cultures, this bird is believed to have many superior attributes, such as being able to speak and act as oracles. Ravens were also messengers of the Gods. In Persia, these birds were connected with the God of Light and Sun.
I discovered the central building, with its many doors, windows and gates in Bruges. This building, and the gates on the left- and right-hand sides of the work, recalls the labyrinth (of Life), or library. In symbolic language, one can define the library as the source of knowledge, mystery or might. The library is also closely related to the labyrinth, which is why all the mannequins in my work are confronted with a labyrinth.
The figure on the left holds the Sun, while the figure on the right holds the Moon. Symbolically, their prospective meeting constitutes the experience of Death and Eternal Life. This will be the moment between the terror of time passing and the beauty of the immortal soul. The figure on the left-hand side has wings, indicating that this is the mediator between Heaven and Earth. The character on the right-hand side has a horse head. Horses are regarded as guides of souls into the Afterlife and are said to be able to move freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine.
In this work, I confront two illusions. Firstly, as already mentioned, is the so-called "positive illusion" connected to magic, spiritual evolution, the fulfilment of life and mystic, inner transformation. The other side of the coin consists in the so-called "negative illusion"; the destructive part of life, constituting consumerism and all the traps awaiting the human soul, which include welfare tyranny, materialism, consumption, jealousy, hate... All these aspects have led the human race to its current broken relationship with the planet and other human beings. The "negative illusion" is symbolised by the car surrounded by people (consumers), where one can purchase all the temptations our world contains.
This illusion is underscored by the statue blowing mist over the eager consumers. Here, the mist blurs and distorts our perception; it prevents us from "seeing" and "feeling" clearly. It emphasises the fact that we also live in a perfect illusion, as it appears that we want for nothing, while the truth is, simultaneously, that thousands die of starvation every day. Problems with overpopulation, pollution and deforestation exist. There is no balance in this world. This is a very negative aspect of the human condition. This is also the story behind "The City of Illusion".
Marcin Owczarek, 2013
THE CITY OF ILLUSION ©2013
Limited edition of 7+2AP