October  21 – November 27, 2021

 „Art is an amazing phenomenon, alive and dynamic. Throughout history, its breadth, role and tasks have been constantly changing. Sometimes art serves only to express the beauty of nature, and sometimes by cleverly using this beauty it promotes theories, views and ideas. It forms into styles and trends. It sets methods and canons. Art indulges in patrons’ tastes or, on the contrary, manifests its own independence. But it has always praised the talent of its creators. The artists who created new ways of art arouse my admiration and respect, which is why I treat them as heroes. The exhibition which is presented at the Jan Tarasin Art Gallery in Kalisz  includes works created between the years of 2013 – 2021. During this period, there were long breaks in my artistic activity caused by several years of work in the mission field in Africa. The content of the exhibition is the result of attempts to search for artistic identity after the experiences of living in a different culture, and a form of dialogue with the works of masters of contemporary art, a kind of correspondence with my idols and heroes. The series of Letters to Rosalie is my tribute to the Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne. Palms of the Earth is my homage to the British creator Richard Long. HK’s polyptych was inspired by the op-art paintings of Bridget Riley, and the composition Message is to a large extent a „collective portrait” of American artists of the twentieth century. Frank Stella, Jackson Pollock, Kenneth Noland, Richard Serra, Franz Kline are just some of the artists whose individual, unique style is visible in the “letters” that make up the Message polyptych. What most of the above-mentioned people have in common is a similar understanding of the idea of a work of art. The series of works of 12 lines, 5 lines or the polyptych Without title complete this dialogue and prove my love for minimalism. I titled the exhibition Beyond the Horizon as an expression of longing for crossing borders and discovering the unknown… in myself.”

Janusz Kokot was born in Kalisz in 1960. He graduated from the Institute of Art at Częstochowa University. He works as a painter and designer. Between 1988 – 2020 he prepared 19 individual exhibitions in Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Great Britain. He has participated in dozens of collective exhibitions in Poland and abroad. He is the winner of 13 prizes and distinctions in national art competitions.

The author of the photo Symeon Czepczor

The polyptych HK,  2021, oil pastel , 70 × 100 cm × 6

Stripes and lines have been present in art for centuries. The golden head of Tutankhamun covered with a striped headscarf, the arches of the Cordoba mosque, Cathedrals in Siena and Orvieto made of two colors of stone are examples that immediately come to my mind.

The stripes also have a powerful representation in the art of our time. Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, Bernett Newman, Gerhard Richter, Wade Guyton, Leon Tarasewicz are the names of famous artists who used this motive in their work. Some of the above-mentioned people used stripes for a short period, others made them the standard of their work.

HK is a composition created for the interior of the Pulsar Gallery located in the City Art Gallery of Kalisz. My direct inspiration was the photographs of huge blocks of flats in Hong Kong. Although they are the pinnacle of construction engineering, they do not arouse in me admiration, but rather surprise and distance.  I have the impression that these feelings are not present in my work, because during the production of HK I was accompanied by the same kind of carefree joy and a feeling of satisfaction that I see in children who, in their own way, arrange in the box a new set of colored crayons.

The polyptych Message, 2020 – 2121, oil pastel, oil pastel and pencil, 45 × 45 cm × 33

When, as a sixteen-year-old student of an art college, I first faced the works of the hailed American artists of the twentieth century, there was no indication that after many years a desire to enter into a dialogue with their works would arise in me, because apart from the size of the paintings I was not much attracted to them. The composition Message consisting of over thirty parts is a kind of correspondence with their works. All the elements of the polyptych are letters and they can be used to form specific words like movable fonts, but my idea is more related to conveying messages about the aesthetics present in American art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Viewers will easily find references to the works of Franz Kline, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Frank Stella and many others. The “empty” places in the composition can be freely assigned to the works of Warhol, Kooning, Newman and other great artists who are absent from my work. The individual images do not quote or imitate their work. Rather, they relate to their expression and spirit.

The polyptych Twelve, 2013 -2021, oil pastel and pencil, 70 × 70 cm × 8

The polyptych Twelve was created over a period of several years. I made the first paintings of the series in 2017. All of them refer to the aesthetics of minimalism, and the motif connecting the individual parts is twelve horizontal lines.Twelve is an open composition assembled with eight pieces: Silver Pond, Milky Way, Big Gray, Panels, White Noise, Subtlety, Clearing up & Twelve. The whole set can be supplemented with further pictures, giving the opportunity to compose the work in any way. Some of them can be seen as a record of successive travel scenes, others are a kind of study of the horizon. I used the number twelve intentionally, because it is related to the system by which we measure the passage of time. It may lead one to contemplate on the inevitability that everything is passing, but at the same time to reflect on the values, relating to the number twelve in our culture, which remain constant.

The diptych Hands of the Earth, 2021, oil pastel and pencil , 100 × 70 cm × 2

Hands of the Earth – Our hands are like overworked twins, with fingerprints, furrows, wrinkles and scars. Constantly changing the surface of the planet, to its glory and ruin. Building structures to the clouds and penetrating the earths interior in search of iron, diamonds or energy sources. White hands are stained with flour or porcelain clay. Black hands sustaining the fire in the hearth, charred with soot and ash. Active day and night. Ready for action in the morning and at dusk.We, human beings and the four elements are Earth’s hands, irreversibly changing the planets face.

Richard Long is one of the most original British contemporary artists. He carries out his compositions directly in nature or in exhibition spaces, using only natural materials such as stones or pieces of wood. He arranges them in circles, spirals or lines of various shapes and structures. Many times he uses mud or clay as a medium, but without utilizing any tools, only his hands.The Diptych Hands of the Earth is a tribute to his work.

Exhibition duration: October  21 – November 27, 2021

Exhibition opening: Thursday, October  21, 2021, at 7 pm –10 pm

The Jan Tarasin Art. Gallery in Kalisz
Culture Institution of Kalisz

Exibition partners:
Fundacja BLESS, firma IGNASZAK auto salony

Gallery partners:
Ergo Hestia, Polifarb Kalisz S.A., M&P Alkohole i wina świata

Media patronage:
artinfo.pl, radio Centrum, Ziemia Kaliska, Radio Poznań, Calisia.pl

The author of the texts in this publication is Janusz Kokot.