January 14 - February 27, 2000
|"Pixel Mountain" 1987
project on height |
(from left) 600m, 390m, 180m
|Piotr Kowalski next to "Sculpture Flottante",|
In 1961, he won First Prize in an international contest as a designer of a railway station in Tunis. The same year, he prepared his first individual exhibition, at the Maison des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In the following years, he took part in a dozen-or-so art projects per year, including individual and group exhibitions held at most prestigious galleries or museums all over the world. Besides, he won a number of prizes of considerable import in architecture and town-planning, as well as took advantage of a series of scientific or artistic scholarships or grants.
In 1968, Kowalski represented France at the 34th Venice Biennial. In 1978-85, he worked as a Rockefeller Foundation grant-holder at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT. There, he run an independent faculty which was granted means to pursue scientific research and artistic activity. In 1980's, he toured South Korea and Japan, which was connected with exhibiting projects and borne fruit also in the form of a series of town-planning designs for Tokyo and Kyoto; on those, Kowalski has been working until now (the projects are presented in the form of models and drawings). Ever since 1970's, he has been preparing numerous open-air projects, town-planning arrangements and giant sculptures located in urban areas of France, Austria, Switzerland, the USA, Denmark, Germany and Japan, to name the major locations. Among the best-known ones are Porte Sud and the Pascal Square, i.e. a town-planning/sculpture complex situated at the famous Paris quarter of La Défense, the Axe de la Terre ('The Axis of the Earth') - an 'astronomical' sculpture located at a roundabout in Marne-la-Vallée, and Thermocouple - a 'double monument' at the Danube river bank in Linz, Austria, whose individual components react to changing temperatures of the environment by increasing or decreasing their reciprocal positioning angle. Our present exhibition shows photographs of these as well as of other objects realised in public areas (Room 1).Pascal Square
Kowalski's interests both as an artist and architect, mathematician, bio-physicist and town-planner, focus around the liquid borderline between science and art: to his mind, both of these domains equally serve to interpret the reality. As an artist, he searches for scientific solutions taken from optics, kinetics, mathematics, mathematical logic, analytic geometry. The sphere of the visual or the 'artistic' gets linked with theory, philosophy, idea-centred approach, whereas the former not infrequently results from the latter. Art is a sort of challenge, one provoking to transgress the borders of already-tested technological possibilities. Therefore, Piotr Kowalski might be named artist as well as (re)searcher or inventor.
In an interview, he mentioned that science was a culture of our contemporary period and that he himself, as an artist, could not possibly figure out being a scientifically illiterate man himself. This is obviously not a postulate of how to direct modern art in general; rather than that, it is an attempt at establishing a unity of apparently separate areas which, in fact, cannot practically get separated against this very physical world and literal reality. Reality is, for Kowalski, a series of connections or relations between facts and phenomena; nothing is abstracted out of this world, and nothing may exist [in it] on its own.
|"Shrunken Pieces - Anti sphere"|
Such a comparison between sciences and culture of the modern world is characteristic to Kowalski's art as well as to his differentiated interests, an attitude referred to by Jean-Christophe Bailly as one of 'total thinking'. Beyond this, we can discern a fascination with the world of Heraclitus' ideas, with the inner nature of reality as experienced daily, wherein any and all phenomena are components of a bigger whole, every single thing exerts an impact on all the others and conversely, and the world we live in is being co-created.
One has therefore to point to a tradition to which the unique creative personality of Piotr Kowalski seems to refer, namely that of great scientists-philosophers of the past ages: Descartes, Pascal, Newton, ones whom he would himself willingly evoke by devoting certain of his projects to their memorable names.
[Text by M. Pejda]