Tats Maurycy Gomulicki

21.08 – 28.10.2018 Tats Maurycy Gomulicki

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

curator: Agnieszka Szewczyk
collaboration on the part of Zachęta: Katarzyna Kołodziej-Podsiadło
visual identity: Janek Bersz
exhibition design: Agnieszka Szewczyk, Maurycy Gomulicki

Among the many roles played by Maurycy Gomulicki in his work as an artist, the role of a pop culture anthropologist is particularly fruitful. This can be seen in the case of the Tats project, dedicated to the documentation of primitive tattoos worn primarily by people identifying with the so-called git (git-ludzie, slang for ‘good people’) subculture, which was popular among young residents of large housing estates in the 1970s. From 2007 on, Gomulicki wandered through flea markets, parks and other marginalised areas of the city, taking thousands of photographs documenting this disappearing phenomenon and capturing this — often primitive, but honest — ‘iconography’ of the dreams of exotic lands, paradise, pleasure and longing, emerging in the most brutal conditions of imprisonment, military service, labour corps and detention centres.

The personal approach to the subject, devoid of academic rigour, enables the artist to elevate the material to the level of art. The collection of photographs emanates visual power, the strength of primal expression. It is a different story about drawing, demonstrating the whole wealth of meanings of disegno, a classical term which denotes a drawing or a sketch, but also the design, plan, idea and notion of ‘what is supposed to happen.’

The Tats project is a very significant counterpoint in Gomulicki’s art, the other side of the ‘culture of pleasure’ that he propagates, alluring with its radicalism and saturation with extreme declarations. The exhibition was thought out as a precise structure built out of selected photographic material, further divided into thematic areas, juxtaposed with wall drawings. It is based on contrasts and tensions visible in the visual material, as well as the way the exhibition is arranged, starting from the obvious question pertaining to the very art of tattoo — the egalitarian, contemporary tattoos have lost their former rawness and authenticity; through the perfectly composed photographs and their brutal subject matter, where lyricism is mixed with vulgarity, and where fascination combines with disgust, to the sentimental imaginations about exoticism, juxtaposed with the primitive style. All the opposites and juxtapositions form a compelling visual story about the ‘last Lascaux available to us’.


Artist's works in the Zachęta collection

  • Zdjęcie pracy
    Maurycy Gomulicki2000
  • Zdjęcie pracy from the cycle A Glade of Fairy Tales
    from the cycle A Glade of Fairy TalesMaurycy Gomulicki2001
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Maurycy Gomulicki
21.08 – 28.10.2018

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Godziny otwarcia:
Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.