The Metaphor of Erection

I discover the metaphoric potential of erection – declares Ryszard Woźniak – and in Warsaw Klima Bocheńska Gallery he displays his most recent, excellent pictures.

„Equality Parade” this is the title of the exhibition by the veteran of the famous Gruppa. It contains brash and amusing pictures.
The Gruppa, originated by the students of Warsaw ASP (Academy of Fine Arts) was the most explicit artistic formation of the eighties in Poland. The members of this association proposed sharp, expressionistic, almost punk paintings; containing gutsy – considering the time of martial law – political overtones. Subsequently every one of the artists followed their own patch whilst their creative choices differed. The classicizing works by Jarosław Modzelewski can hardly be called wild. The creative output currently proposed by Marek Sobczyk is an intellectually – erudite pastime. The remaining artists of the party are less noticeable than two decades ago. This is also the case of Ryszard Woźniak. However, it sometimes happens that the most interesting things happen in the background, and “Equality Parade” testifies to that.
The style of the current output of Woźniak is different than 20 years ago, however the spirit remains the same: provocative and bold. The core of the new exhibition is a series of large canvases representing various embodiments of the same Presley-like everyman. In each of the paintings the protagonist enjoys a huge erection; however every one of them is aroused by something else. In one picture that is protagonist’s own head in multiple, in another a huge flower that sticks out of his trousers. Still in another picture the fly opens up with a vigorously marching leg. There are under twenty paintings, so you will see several variations of the subject; some more straightforward, some metaphorical. Eventually, it is an “Equality Parade,” and equality is manifested by promoting individuation.
Woźniak supplements this cycle by another series of portraits in which the protagonist takes on the role of authority. As a “National Authority” mock – Presley wears a red beret dotted with white, which makes it resemble a poisonous mushroom. “Religious Authority” has a huge cross attached to his scull. “Media Authority” is displayed with rainbow colored hairdo, holding a long pipe in his mouth, the other end of which is stuck in his bottom constituting a classic circuit. 
Woźniak is of painter’s breed. His canvasses are strong; they are barbed, strongly amplified by provocative ideas. The common complaint about Polish young artists, who are entitled to raging by their age, is that they are too well behaved, mellow, and neutral. The artists from “master generation” such as Ryszard Woźniak can be much more pushy and incompliant. This painter remains unreformed in his refreshing biting wit. His excellent, ironic work of art, is attempted not only to look good (even though it does), but also to confront reality, shake you, bring about inspiring hustle and germination. Ultimately we all partake in “Equality Parade.”

Stach Szabłowski, Newspaper DZIENNIK (Kulture), 6.10.2006

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