In Polish, podszerstek [undercoat] does not remind us of the wardrobe, though in animal coats this thick, soft, and trim layer of fur just beneath the outer fur plays an important thermal role. Undercoat, lining, bristle, hair… The English “underfur,” and certainly “undercoat,” has a different range of associations, more closely related to the world of fashion and clothes. It is literally what is concealed underneath the outer layer, filling the gap between the skin and the fabric, while remaining unseen from the outside. A good craftsman is said to know his trade “inside-out,” but not because what is inside distinguishes the work of a tailor from the mass production of the global South. He need not even look there to detect a masterful style, the faultless seams between fabrics, the unerring cut of cloth or stitch of the buttons. The eye of the connoisseur will know if the lining is satin, muslin, or modal from the style of the coat. You know the cut from the lining, one might say, and a solid cotton lining serves a range of functions.
The titular “undercoat” is present in the exhibition narrative through associations between the world of nature and humans, pointing to the cracks that exist between how we normally see things, between skimming the surface of contemporary events and technology’s consequences upon society and civilization, and meticulous observation of the state of objects, fleeting details which escape the proverbial “first glance.” This representative selection of photographs, including works from Gamers (2010), Disassembly (2011–2012), Boys and Girls I Know (2012–2017), The Colors of Lost Time (2018–2019), works exhibited for the first time (the East West series, 2014), and those created specially for this exhibition (Ceiling, Chamber and the Remnants series of 2021), illuminates spaces that once were dark, displaying what lurks “under the surface” of reality: of the world of fashion and glamor, of youth and freedom, of clothing and history.
Paweł Bownik (b. 1977) is a visual artist, photographer, and lecturer. He studied philosophy at the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin (1995–98) and Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań (1998–2005, taking his diploma from the studio of Dr. Krzysztof J. Baranowski). In 2004–8 he was part of the IKOO collective. He worked as a curator of Teren Osobny Gallery, located in a historical tsarist prison. In 2005, he organized the International Meet of Intervention Artists there. He was a curator of the 4th Photography Biennial in Poznań, titled Hunting for Objects (2005). In 2014, he was nominated for a Polityka Passport. That same year, his book Disassembly received the main award in the Photography Publication of the Year contest and was nominated for the Kassel Photobook Award. In 2015–19, he was an assistant in the Studio Photography Workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Szczecin, and since 2019 he has lectured at the Direction of Photography and TV Direction Department at the National Film School in Łódź. He lives and works in
Bownik’s works are found in the Museum In Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, the ING Polish Art Foundation, the National Library, Zachęta—National Gallery of Art, Wrocław Contemporary Museum, the Museum of Photography in Krakow, and private collections.
Curator: Magdalena Ziółkowska
Exhibition arrangement: Bownik and Magdalena Ziółkowska
Exhibition visual identity: Agata Biskup
Producer: Przemysław Purtak
Publishing coordinator: Paulina Kowalczyk
Curatorial tour | 11.06, 15:00
Museum will be open on 1st of May (from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and closed on 2nd and 3rd of May.