Paweł Żukowski, artist, activist, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. After finishing his MA in economics, he quit his career to study photography at the University of Arts in Poznan. Professionally, he used to work in photo departments of Polish magazines such as Newsweek, Glamour, In Style and Gala.
Despite being educated as a photographer, he uses the medium simply as a base to explore the field of painting, naive art, sometimes even video and sculpture. In his artwork, he mixes his observations on reality (relations, sexuality, fetishes, social issues) with various visual inspirations. He mixes his art practice with Gay rights activism, so his works are quite critical and are not made to please everybody. Zukowski is very often to be found present on equality marches all across Poland, always with a fresh hand-made banner bearing a new protest slogan, where he tries to fight the ideas of the far-right movement that grows stronger daily in Poland.
In 2019 he organized by himself an exposition of his fetish works under the patronage of the Equality Parade in Warsaw, held in the headquarters of Lambda Warszawa, the oldest Polish LGBT association. It was the first event in Poland to showcase purely works covering Gay fetishes and sexuality. The same year, he organized a peaceful protest against homophobia at one of Polish major newspapers, which he covered with the slogan “LGBT IS ME”.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he initiated an underground social campaign titled “We’ll get by”, which was widely reported by mainstream media and appreciated by curators of “Artists in quarantine” led by L’Iinternationale, an organization, which brings together major European art institutions. He was among the artists which took part in protest to call-off the unlawfully organized presidential election, and thus was fined by the government with a gargantuan fee, which was later successfully withdrawn due to an intervention of the Polish Ombudsman. His works were shown in highly discussed political exhibitions, as they recall contemporary events in Poland. The issues are state-narrative homophobia, the rise of far-right extremists, gender inequality, a non-secular state and many more. In 2021 Zukowski organized “Closing credits”: a multimedia projection on the facade of the National Art Gallery Zachęta right before a new state-nominated director took over that institution.
Apart from that, he finds inspiration in Polish cinema, e.g. his project based on movies by Krzysztof Kieslowski was successfully shown in Italy and Austria and Italy. Zukowski’s works were also present during a celebration of Kieslowski’s 80th birth anniversary. He loves recycled materials, collects vintage garbage like pieces of furniture, cardboards, fabrics and uses them in his artwork. He is also under the huge influence of street-art, alternative aesthetics, critical and political art from the ’70s and 4th wave feminism.
Published: 24th March 2022Tags: Artist-in-Residence, Paweł Żukowski