Jakub Julian Ziółkowski
Dented, Round, Sky
January 13—February 12, 2023
James Fuentes is pleased to present Jakub Julian Ziolkowski, Dented, Round Sky, the artist’s debut solo exhibition at the gallery. This project surveys the artist’s recent works in painting, sculptural relief, and ceramic, which together contemplate various interiorities of the human body and mind. The artist's monotypes on paper will simultaneously be on view in a dedicated online exhibition at JamesFuentes.Online. Ziolkowski’s process is meditative, traveling deeply inward and in turn locating spiritual profundity within the vessel of the body: moving through its fluids and organs; in the cyclical waves of the heart and the brain; in waking, sleep, and in between.
Two of the earliest works in the exhibition—Red Diamond and The Inward Descent (both 2019)—reveal this journey through a mirror-like strategy, delivering an image that feels at once abstract and photographic in what it describes. By encountering these images, they rely upon and reflect the contemplation that occurs in the viewer who approaches the work. In this process of observation, the work takes you in: another “inward descent” and a more immediate access to spirituality as it emerges through the body. These are experiences that are hard to put into words. Employing image-making instead, Ziolkowski evidences a highly sensuous process in order to make visible the unseen currents of our human reactions, comprehension, awareness, and impulses.
Most recently and more specifically, Ziolkowski has been preoccupied with the idea of reaching deep into the mind to further touch upon transcendental states of being, including those of dreaming and other provinces of psychedelic consciousness. Three works—Dreaming Heart, Natures Moves, and Dreaming of the Dead (all 2022)—as a trio mix together the artist’s understandings of many different cultures and their practices of shamanism. In one work, a person is depicted meditating, surrounded by various mirror images and reflective surfaces, including water, combined with symbols that derive from these numerous sources. Each of these works also contains an outer margin, like that of a book; an alternative space through which to arrive at the contents held within.
Benevolently linking the above two series, from The Hint (2020) a hand emerges from an enervated mass of connections to simply point, as if to offer a directional sense of guidance. It is at this point that the work on canvas presents a sculptural element. The hand is the artist’s own, cast in clay. Paint meets ceramic in a series of smaller three-dimensional figures (all 2021), including those of a Sorcerer, Chaos, and The Mother. These totems act as strange stand-ins or propositions toward a larger comprehension of the world and its archetypes. They could be male and female at the same time; visual energies yet seemingly autonomous from the realm of matter; reproduced in continual rebirth through order and disorder.
Finally, a Head in the Clouds (2021) faces away from us, in the same direction as ours, gripped by two hands. Although located in the heavens it is not a particularly peaceful image, conveying a moment of silence as well as disquiet. Perhaps this is the moment that the exhibition title most explicitly gestures toward: a sky, dented and round. No parts of the continually unfolding story of Ziółkowski’s work as an artist can be deduced easily or flattened. Among these shared signals and visions, the best understanding is that which is intuitive.
Jakub Julian Ziolkowski (b. 1980 in Zamosc, Poland) is the subject of a large-scale solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK) in his home town of Krakow, running March 31–September 24, 2023, with an accompanying monograph published by Hatje Cantz. His work has been presented in notable exhibitions such as Younger Than Jesus at the New Museum, the Venice Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, and Athens Biennial. Solo exhibition venues include Hauser & Wirth in London, Zurich, and New York; Parasol Unit, London; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; the National Gallery of Art in Warsaw; and Neues Museum Nürnberg. His work is featured in the collections of the Zabludowicz Collection; Ursula Hauser Collection; MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow); Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art; and the National Museums in Krakow, Warsaw, and Wrocław. Ziolkowski trained at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where he currently lives and works.