Zbigniew Olszyna

born in 1980 in Wierzbica, lives in Łódź, Poland


Pop SACRUM (February 2009– February 2010 )

Olszyna according to Caravaggio

While still at the academy, Zbyszek Olszyna picked photography as his basic medium. His diploma was made of a series of photographs – a contemporary photo interpretation of great paintings. He still explores that subject. Current presentation is a kind of continuation of previous themes, which does not mean copying them, though. His photography is based on a rather simple basis – he arranges scenes from famous painting masterpieces using the reality which surrounds us. Hence, we have contemporary people, wearing their everyday clothes, posing in scenes from history-cherished paintings in contemporary rooms. It is not about superficial similarity, though. The author uses these works to touch upon the conflict, a bit forgotten these days, between painting and photography which has been in existence since photography first emerged. Many masters, like Degas, for example, are inspired by photography and use it in their works. Degas used many ‘tricks’ from photography, which contributed to his uniqueness when transferred to painting. Yet, he always refused to accept any artistic values of photography. In a way, Zbyszek Olszyna returns to the problem with his works. He studies the boundaries of both media and the power of creation of a photo camera. He has set for himself an ambitious goal of confronting famous painting masterpieces with a lens. It is not about photographic reconstruction, but a real possibility of creation. In his first series, using light, colour, introducing literal quotations from paintings into the contemporary reality, and thus implying a link to the original work, he has achieved the atmosphere, aura, and emotional and aesthetic tension which are close to the original. Stylisation is largely limited in the current series, and it consists in nothing more but  reconstruction of the composition of an original image, which is then viewed by the cold eye of the camera. The effect is very different here. The image, apart from being recognisable to a beholder who is familiar with the art of painting, and formally close to painting, as well as bearing the same title as the original, is completely new and ruthlessly reflects the banality of modern reality. This way, Zbyszek Olszyna shows us the power of photography as a medium of huge creative potential and, at the same time, a medium which is a tremendously powerful unmasking tool.

Janusz Głowacki

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