The exhibition presents the most complete and up-to-date selection of paintings created by Marek Rachwalik and inspired by heavy metal aesthetic. The main theme of the show does not exhaust the interpretative potential of Rachwalik’s art. Precise and elaborate painting technique communicates a vision full of paradoxes, with the vanity of recognized human values and a concomitant affirmation of existence juxtaposed against the absurdity of life and loneliness in the technical world. The artist deliberately references kitsch, pop-culture bizarre, irony and grotesque, since they make it possible to endure the social hell and survive in the universe full of senseless violence.
The exhibition is complemented with metal auto-photographs brimful of “agrarian-libidinal” energies, which, together with the accompanying artist statement, are the integral part of the show.
“When as a teenager I realized the world was a mire, people were whores, and true love was only possible in dreams, I found my consolation in heavy metal music. Gradually, I began discovering the genre – I borrowed music magazines from a fellow student, I copied cassettes and designed their covers. Ominous face expressions, bared teeth or decaying bodies accompanied me, becoming the only way to deal with the lack of perspectives and to tame loneliness. If metal did not save my life, it certainly helped me to mentally withstand the system of the poor, provincial reality during the transformation period and at the beginning of the 21st century. Art classes in my elementary school were run by a music teacher who was only familiar with Chopin and Moniuszko, the books on the curriculum were so boring you could not read them even if you were threatened to be beaten up, and the majority of teachers were trying to prove you were not worth a damn, if you were not able to solve a math or chemistry task accompanied by a ten-kilometer-long description. In high school, I felt like a cockroach among the bohemians discussing jazz and wine brands. Heavy metal, with its passion for turpism, brutal Cannibal Corpse album covers by and Yattering murderous lyrics, bacame my shelter, providing a feeling of safety and acceptance from other fans, outcasts and weirdos like me. Metal tamed the bestiality of the world, nothing else would surprise me. Metal, black metal in particular, is no longer the wave raised by one of the largest cultural revolutions of the late 20th century, accompanied by burning churches and murders. It became a tamed middle-class entertainment, as Łukasz Orbitowski put it. Since the trends referring to the roots of the genre continue to develop dynamically, variations carrying the original spirit of rebellion are likely to appear every now and then. I came up with the idea that my paintings will freely visualize individual sub-genres of metal music, with all their characteristics: logos, mascots, musicians, typical fans, technical crew, prototype guitar amplifiers made to order for village-based musicians or black / death metal machines for grinding the human mob. The image is depicted in a crooked mirror, as it is difficult to take metal without a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, it is an expression of my fascination and a sentimental self-examination. Although the images are served with an acid sauce, they contain a hint of narrative – something I used to avoid in the past. Absurd and irony – which offer a way to alleviate the seriousness of existence and pseudo-intellectual, humorless art gibberish – mix with a satanic sublimity, while rural folklore blends with industrialism. As a former altar boy I have had to come to terms with the dark side of the power. Metal inspired paintings are sharp, they refer to the symbols commonly associated with the genre: pentagrams, inverted crosses, alongside objects from the provincial world: carvings and garden ornaments. On the one hand, the sculptures depict our desire to surround ourselves with hand-processed things. A joyful interference in the nearest environment, my art is an attempt to find beauty in objects of everyday use or to repurpose the broken items. On the other hand, the works reflect aesthetic taste distorted by the prism of poverty. I photograph selected paintings in a setting referring to the image of a metal musician, at the same time calling attention to their rural origin. There is something hallucinogenic about folklore, and that is true of the whole Silesia, not only Grupa Janowska or Oneiron. The music scene has its psychedelic autonomy. From hip-hop performers such as Kaliber 44 to metal itself, with outstanding songwriters including Roman Kostrzewski of the legendary Kat or a number of black metal bands with Furia’s frontman Nihil at the forefront.”
Marek Rachwalik (born 1986 in Częstochowa) – visual artist. He works with painting, drawing and metal-based auto-photography. Graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice. Recipient of the award of distinction granted by Magazyn Szum at 43. Bielska Jesień and winner of Grand Prix at the 6th Triennial of Painting named after Marian Michalik. A rural primate who does not trust the city dudes. He comes from the village of Kłomnice.
Rachwalik states: “My art is based around the theme of visual particles of the organic world, levitating 3D objects, psychedelic phenomena, elements of robotics, microprocessors, hydraulic installations, technology of agricultural machinery construction, rural folklore (garden ornaments, car tyre sculptures), as well as personal experiences, inconsistency and pop culture, grotesque, food and liquor products. I also research the fields of musical iconography, mainly the conventions of metal music, cover design, image and logos. I am interested in sports, walking in the forest and Polish black metal. In 2000, I ranked third in the interparish ping-pong tournament in Żarki.”
Partner of the exhibition and publisher of the catalogue: Stolarska / Krupowicz Gallery