Ida Smakosz-Hankiewicz

Freeze frames of millions of cities, captured in a distinct labyrinth. A spacial, metropolitan analysis, cohesively documented through the artistic arrangement of the symbols and pictograms of the urban iconosphere. This is the latest work of Artur Przebindowski, graduate of Kraków's Academy of the Fine Arts, grand-prize winner of Poland's 23rd Festival of Modern Painting, and recipient of honorable mentions and the voter's choice award in the 40th biannual "Bielska Jesień" painting competition. 

These intriguingly vast, yet at once vacant agglomerations treat humanity's confrontation with the spaces it inhabits, experiences, and shapes. The city is of interest to Przebindowski, as he himself explains, as the mark of mankind, or, emotionally speaking, the mark of our limitations. His city, then, perfectly illustrates Levi-Strauss' reflections:1: "The city, while an object of nature, is the subject of culture, individuals and groups, dreams and experiences. It's quite human." At the same time, the city branches out structurally, growing new streets, edifices, courtyards, and areas official, unofficial, and illicit. It provides shelter, escape, congregation, and destruction. It brings mazes to mind. The cities of Przebindowski's images appear endless. They're like ancient structures, intricately designed arrangements of halls and corridors from whence newcomers couldn't find their way out. This urban maze can be interpreted more metaphorically as a tangle, an entanglement (of roads, passages, events, and phenomena), a complicated situation. The maze of the metropolis is, then, an image rich in content. Essential in this context is the symbolic layer. Przebindowski has woven symbols inseperable from city's visual aspect into his mosaic, evoking a popular, postmodern interpretation of the city as a palimpset: a written record and language; its inhabitants the readers. These symbols are often drawn from the modern sphere of city life, as in the four-part series which depicts automobile manufacturers' logos as decorative ornaments. These recognizable, well-known symbols are an inherent part of the iconospheres of our cities. They are our creations and the marks of our presence. They also testify to the visual changes which have occurred in the city over the span of centuries and represent our modern way of life (e.g. satellite antennas and automobile manufacturers' logos)

Another Polish artist who has analyzed the city's specifics is Edward Dwurnik. His approach was different still: a revealing and grotesque view of Polish society at the time. Dwurnik's cities tended to be populated with residents and made up of specific streets, squares, and houses; whereas Przebindowski's work is devoid of inhabitants; vaguer; difficult to associate with any real place; homogenous creations lacking individuality; a private city of his own; and a type of self-portrait.

Stylistically, Artur Przebindowski's cities are matrices of repeating forms, creating decorative patterns which can be interpreted abstractly. With their meticulous composition, rich detail, and lack of dominant elements, these colorful mosaics conjure up associations with the photographic compositions of German artists Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky. The urban spaces they photographed, also featuring multiplications, extensions of certain motifs, recount the power of society and the loneliness of the individual. Przebindowski, like these artists tells the story of humanity and our habitat, boldly developing tension between our impersonalness and manifestation. On the other hand, whereas those works produced by Düsseldorf's students portray real-life places subjected to cold, objective registration, Przebindowski's cities illustrate the painter's imagination, a world he himself creates, using conscious æsthetic judgment, the breaking down of contrasts, gradiation of saturation, and choice of colors endowing his works with personal and emotional traits. As he himself explains: "I strive to tell the humanity's story along with, or perhaps above all, my own, discretely enough to concentrate as much emotion as possible in my images. The motif of the city allows me to do so, but is more and more becoming a mere pretext.2

1 Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, 1st edition: 1970; 2nd edition: Warsaw, 2000, Wydawnictwo KR, page 434

2 My private geography: A conversation with Małgorzata I. Niemczyńska and Artur Przebindowski

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