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Entangled States

Mateusz Kołek

Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology
February 17,2024 - April 07,2024
Mateusz kołek, Cat Shop, 2022

February 17 April 7

In 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded, among other things, for proving that quantum physics precludes determinism. No conception that would locally explain that the causes of a phenomenon are located in its nearest surroundings can be correct. Certain things have no cause and unpredictability is one of the constituent elements of reality.

Science thus proves what artists have had premonitions of for centuries. Unpredictability and its observation are some of the elements of the creative process. Perceptive sensitivity to the unpredictable is the distinctive feature of artists; or, possibly, having this feature makes one an artist? 

Some element of unpredictability certainly comes through in the work of Mateusz Kołek. Otherwise, how do you logically make out a cause-and-effect sequence out of such components as Spain, a huge tattooed bloke, and a child with a plastic dragon? No tangent points there. And yet, it is Yakuza Daddy that Mateusz’s story symbolically begins with.

In his work, he uses patterns and ornaments that have fascinated him since childhood, treating them as doorways into different realities, into parallel worlds. It would be hard to disagree with a statement that Mateusz’s graphics are portals into a completely different tale, one unfolding in some symmetrical way, a regular, everyday reality which each of us drops out out of now and then. Or at least would like to. Kołek’s works have this unusual quality whereby they provoke a state of ‘dissociation’, transfer into a different universe; or perhaps a state of being an explorer of a very original Multiverse, if only for a brief while?

I think this is the notion one should be using in the context of this art. Mateusz Kołek’s entangled Multiverse is a place where Japan, Hong Kong, and Poland intertwine; manga, anime, European comics and Gothic art. Out of this set of seemingly incongruous ingredients springs an extraordinary world of imagination where you want to stay a bit longer. A world you feel like exploring and experiencing, finding ever new elements and look for links between the various graphics. Experiencing this structure is a non-linear narrative, full of ‘embedded’ meanings and components repeated in patterns, forming a trail for a perceptive observer to explore the artist’s world.

This is how we join the artist in his journey through places and time. We visit spaces and meet people in situations which, captured in Kołek’s images, are freeze-frames of a larger narrative, particularly interesting in those cases where the artist reveals to us what story or emotion provided the inspiration for this or other work.

This is also the case with his work Kalwaryjska 25. Here again we are dealing with the unpredictable: it is probably only in some subversive way that artistic intuition can combine the Polish disorder of poor shop sign design with the characteristic element of Far Eastern cityscape which is the ubiquitous neon signs and advertisements. This is the work that inaugurates his series of portrayals of Kraków.

Mateusz Kołek’s Kraków is magical, surprising, and very much Far-Eastern, while also being familiar, indigenous, even though ‘parallel’ in some way. Places that Cracovians know well and pass through or by on a daily basis suddenly take on a magical quality. They evoke emotions akin to those that we experience when viewing woodblock prints, imagining the time of samurai and geisha. A journey through this Kraków is far from everyday experience. It enables us to look at what is familiar in a new, fresh, unexpected and unpredictable way. 

In our story, as we experience the adventure of Mateusz Kołek’s work, Kraków surfaces twice. The artist’s studio and the series Kraków provide the starting and concluding points for the tale of a journey into the world of imagination, which Mateusz once described as follows: “On the outside, you can hardly imagine a more static job: a desk, a chair, a sheet of paper, a pencil, a monitor, and hours spent in a single position. It’s a lot more interesting on the inside.”

Just how interesting? The only way to find out is by stepping inside the unpredictable.

Przemysław Wideł