ArtCan are pleased to introduce you to our artist Tomasz Jurek. Born in Poland, Thomasz is an artist, a graphic designer and a teacher. In 2017, he curated ArtCan’s exhibition ‘Touchpoint: Borders & Boundaries’ at The Curators’ LAB Gallery in Poland. We recently caught up with him to discuss about his PhD experience and his latest graphic installation. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m from Poland. Currently, I live and work in my hometown Poznań. I completed studies at the Faculty of Graphic Arts in Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań (University of the Arts in Poznań) in the field of graphic design. In 2008 I received M.A in visual communication design and graphic art techniques. I also used to study at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. I have been working as a Graphic Designer for the past eleven years on a number of different projects both as a full-time employee and a freelancer in London and Poznań.
You recently completed your PhD in arts…
Yes, indeed, I received PhD in arts from University of the Art in Poznań. Four years ago I started my doctoral studies and I’ve just presented my dissertation! That was a very exciting time for me.
Why did you decide to attend the course? Was there anything particularly interesting about it?
I’m a freelance graphic designer, every day I do graphic design. I decided to do something more, something I couldn’t achieve whilst doing commercial work. My individual, artistic practice allowed me to express myself finally! I wanted to comment on and speak about more important, major problems in peoples’ relationships.
What theme(s) did you explore? Why?
The quote of Mikhail Bakhtin used as the motto describes in a simple way what is the main thesis of our theoretical considerations here : ‘Of all words uttered in everyday life, no less than half belong to someone else’. Even a simple repetition of someone else’s words entails a personal accent; this individual trace in the utterance is of major significance and is a feature of specific communication, of ‘new’ understanding – a new word – even though the wording has not significantly changed.
The main source of inspiration for my doctoral dissertation was the concept of framing as a phenomenon which affects the society, public life, culture and art on a daily basis. The study of framing is interdisciplinary, it is justified in all social sciences as well as in the area of research concerning graphics as part of visual arts.
Framing is the way of constructing the message, which is interpreted by the audience. By adding certain elements, the picture acquires completely different features and creates new meanings, a new way of looking at our reality. By putting graphic commentary to a certain wall or space, we create a new interpretation of the whole surrounding environment.
Are there any artists/art movement(s) that influenced your work/research?
During my doctoral studies I had a chance go to Kassel in Germany. I was doing research about Documenta, an international exhibition of modern and contemporary art which has been held regularly in Kassel since 1955. I spent two weeks in Documenta’s archive studying different artists’ practises. It was a very exciting and inspiring time for me. All knowledge I possessed, I could use in my work. I do not dare to compare myself with such great artists who have been exhibited at Documenta but artists still can do something new, something else, something different.
Tell us about the body of work you produced during your study. Is it connected with your previous work and in what ways?
I decided to do something more artistic rather than create another graphic design project. The practical part of my doctoral dissertation was a graphic installation. Using graphics as a technique of multiplying information I strived to show a certain gap – irregularity, mismatch, disproportion, different cognitive and emotional experience. The awareness of this gap and the possibility to fill it through interpreting messages were the core of my artistic activity. We should work on received interpretations in order to create an anti-frame that is consistent with our beliefs and values. The purpose of the created space (graphic installation in this case) was to provide the audience with experiences which engage imagination and creativity and allow for personal interpretations. Graphics, visual communication, is not only a fragment of an image superimposed in the space, it is a spatial organism which, with time, changes, not only physically but also imaginatively. Due to changing cultural factors the recipient makes a selection – the work’s values change depending on the context.
My exhibition ‘LUKA!’ (translated to English as, ‘GAP!’) addressed the gaps found in art. In the exhibition space, words on the wall were synonyms of the word GAP – failure, error, lack, lack of perfection, defect, deficit, decompression, hole, distance, hollow, interval, cavity, empty space, weakness, worry, etc. All words come from the book ‘Manifesty’ (translated to English as, ‘Manifestos’). I bought the whole edition of this book and made an empty copy. I erased the entire text, from all manifestos, all ideas and put them into a transparent box. From all these words I created a new word, my manifesto, ‘new’ understanding.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently I’m teaching graphic design in one of the private schools in Poznań and doing research for my new project, another graphic installation. Hopefully my next solo exhibition will take place soon!
Find more about Thomasz’s work here: tom.jurek.info