Bogumił Książek »

Duchamp’s Soul/ 22 April-19 May 2016

In the frame of Cracow Gallery Weekend KRAKERS

Marcel Duchamp: a veritable enfant terrible and prophet in one, has for a hundred years stimulated the imagination and caused various controversies. Despite the passage of time, he always remains a vital conversation topic on the condition of contemporary art and also of debates about the state of civilization and humanity itself in general. That scandalist, capable manipulator and inspirer of many initiatives whose outcome he was probably was not quite sure himself, strict observer of the reality who painfully whipped his circle with his cutting sarcasm and the sometimes shocking sincerity, has become an icon. That iconoclast and jeerer mercilessly dealing with the existing comfortable arrangements, fondly stirring up trouble wherever he appeared, has for many become a guru, a kind of saint. The new icon, so full of contradictions, has become a real problem. By rejecting authority, he has become an authority himself. Many have followed the self-proclaimed prophet. Is that how it was to be? Or has this chase for a prophet perhaps turned into a grotesque parade of the blind? Have we by any chance become victims of an intelligent hoax?


Such questions are being dealt with by Bogumił Książek who openly declares his ambivalent attitude to "The Master". He admits to a fascination with the personality and his "insolent" impact and spell on the others. He admires his courage, intelligence and open mind far ahead of time in relation to his contemporaries. At the same time he experiences dissonance which demolishes the vision of the monumental ideal. "The Prophet’s Mask" falls if Duchamp’s irony is understood as a kind of fear of the surrounding reality; as an expression of uncertainty about himself.

A series of works by Bogumił Książek dedicated to Duchamp form a collection of portraits of the great guru of contemporary art. In addition to slogans and elements from well-known works, the only human component are the eyes gazing intently at the viewer. It depict a look of a young man, an adult and an old man honestly expressing feelings such as uncertainty, fear and resignation.  The imaginary images paradoxically show the truth about the man. The icon is stripped of divinity; we see a man who resembles us.... with his weaknesses and fears. Fun made of the artist who cruelly joked with the humanity abruptly stops amusing and makes us reflect on ourselves and the rules of the surrounding the reality.

Curator: Olimpia Maciejewska

Text: Michał Hankus