The exhibition presents to the local public the works of Polish-American Christopher Nowicki, one of the great contemporary masters of mezzotint.
Nowicki’s art proposes a play on the reality of objects, on what we see, what we think we see and what we are about to see (or could see). In his works we can observe, beside the present state of objects, an archeology of the past or an indication about the objects’ unreal/surreal future. Thus, there is a play between the reality of objects and their fictional, past or future state. About this relationship between reality and its artistic transfiguration, Nowicki states: “In my imagery, I attempt to change one’s sense of reality. (…) I think it is a huge challenge to use realistic imagery. People have preconceived ideas of what everything is, what images are, and changing this perception is difficult but I find it an attractive challenge. (…) My focus is on how to show people something that they aren’t able to imagine for themselves.”
In Nowicki’s universe mezzotint – a technique in which images are disclosed gradually from shadow to light – favors a certain tension and uneasiness, suggesting the possibility of unreal things happening on the verge of a surreal environment. Printmaking creates a strongly contrasted world, black and white, with only rare hints of color.
The artist’s narrative brings forth the fragile and perishing nature of things (even when they seem invincible, massive, imposing) and beings (humans), and the way in which these transform or degenerate over time. In Christopher Nowicki’s universe objects have an inner life and they often present themselves as characters.
With Nowicki’s prints we are presented with two states, or meanings of time: on the one hand, there are works that show a timeless aspect of (un)reality; but on the other hand, some prints imply precisely the gravity of temporality. In the prints belonging to the Entropy series, machines are swallowed by their surroundings, degrading like shipwrecks, but we can still see how in the past these were functional mechanisms.
As its title suggests, Decisions is a triptych about the way in which we face decisions throughout our lives; the way in which these decisions may open new doors, or consolidate existing ones, as well as the impact our decisions may have on other people. We invite the public to come through not only the door of our exhibition, but also the doors imagined by the artist, unaware of the (inner) worlds that they may discover: “Doors can open into a new and different space or they can act as a barrier. (…) A door can be open or closed, allowing one to pass through to a different space or blocking one out from the same space. In life, there are many doors in the sense of challenges that one must deal with.”
The exhibited works vary from large-scale prints (like those of the series Decisions and Entropy created these past few years) to small-size intimate works, of which some resume the tension and mysterious vibe of the larger prints, while others, ex-libris, are dedicated to close acquaintances or Polish cultural figures and convey a jovial atmosphere.
Christopher Nowicki was born in 1950 in Toledo, Ohio (USA).
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts received from University of Toledo (1973), and a Master’s Degree from University of Washington, Seattle (1977), where he was Professor Glen Alps’ teaching assistant from 1974 to 1977.
In 1993, he settles in Wrocław, Poland where he teaches at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Art and Design, and is currently Head of the Serigraph Studio and promoter of mezzotint within the same institute.
He is a regular guest lecturer at the Academy of Fine Art Vilnius, Lithuania (2001, 2005, 2007); Academy of Fine Art Edinburgh, Scotland (2006, 2007); Academy of Fine Art Riga, Latvia (2008, 2011); Academy of Fine Art Tianjin, China (2009); Ball State University Muncie, Indiana USA (2012, 2013); University of Bilbao, Spain (2013) etc.
Since 2012, he annually teaches a 2-month printmaking course at North-East University of Changchun, China. In the summer season, Christopher Nowicki dedicates his time to serigraphy, working along Native American artists from Alaska, creating a series dedicated to their tradition.
Throughout his prolific career, Nowicki has been granted several awards, of which to mention a few: Grand Prix Award, International Miniature Print Competition, Seoul, South Korea (1982); Third Place, 7th International Print Competition, Binghamton, New York, USA (1992); Lithuanian National Railway Award, Vilnius, Lithuania (1998); First Prize, Lower Silesian Print and Drawing Exhibition, Wroclaw, Poland (2002); Hahnemulle Award, 6th Polish National Printmaking Competition, Katowice, Poland (2006); Honorable Mention, 1st Edition International Mezzotint Festival Yekaterinburg, Russia (2013); Honorary Professor Diploma, University of Yanbian, China (2013) etc.
His works can be found in museums and collections throughout China, Russia, USA, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Lithuania etc.
Furthermore, he is the curator of an important Polish printmaking exhibition, with one of the most recent projects being the itinerant Polish Contemporary Printmaking Exhibition, which was hosted by the Museum of Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, China (2010), A&G Gallery in Kyung University Seoul, South Korea, and „Stara Kopalnia” Science and Arts Center in Wałbrzych, Poland (2014).