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Old, New & Stupid




In the serene backdrop of the Catskill Mountains in Ellenville, Upstate NY, a captivating art exhibition unfolds, marking a profound phase in the life of an artist who, after navigating through personal upheavals, found solace and inspiration in this tranquil setting. This exhibition, titled New, Old & Stupid showcases a collection where the artist revisits and reinterprets long-delayed projects and rediscovered works initially conceived in Poland as well as the New Works created just before the opening of the Art Show.


Currently, in a period of vibrant flourishing, Pawel Zolynski draws deep inspiration from both the local surroundings of the Catskills and the pulsating spirit of contemporary art in New York City. This fusion of influences results in a body of work that speaks to a broad spectrum of viewers, increasingly attracting wider attention.


The exhibit is running until July 28th. The descriptions of each artwork including this introduction are generated by AI, adhering to the artist's preference to avoid personal translations or explanations of the context and meaning behind the pieces. This unique approach invites visitors to engage directly with the art, fostering individual interpretations and connections. The exhibition continues to capture growing interest, promising an enriching artistic experience until its conclusion in late July.




New York Loitery - neon sign, paper, packing tape, 18" diameter. 2024 


The artwork showcases a neon sign for the "New York Lottery'' where the first letter "T" in "LOTTERY" has been partially covered, transforming it into the letter "I". This alteration results in the sign displaying NY LOITERY, which significantly changes its meaning.


"Loitering" refers to the act of lingering or hanging around a place without any apparent purpose, often associated with a sense of idleness or even suspicion. In New York, where public spaces are bustling and dynamic, loitering can carry a negative connotation, hinting at the legal and social implications of aimlessly occupying a space.


By juxtaposing the concept of "loitering" with the "NY Lottery", the artist cleverly plays with words to create a thought-provoking piece. The New York Lottery represents a form of hope and chance, a system where people spend money hoping for a lucky break. On the other hand, "loitering" suggests inactivity and purposelessness, contrasting sharply with the active pursuit of fortune through the lottery. This artistic transformation invites viewers to reflect on the duality of seeking fortune and the passive state of waiting for something to happen, blending the notion of chance with the idle passing of time. The altered neon sign serves as a commentary on societal behaviors, particularly the juxtaposition of ambition and inactivity.




Two Old Friends, Greed and Ego - glazed and unglazed porcelain, angobe, gold, life size, 2015


The sculpture group presents a striking commentary on human nature through the depiction of porcelain teeth adorned with gold crowns, many of which have noticeable cavities. This artwork challenges the viewer to reconsider the symbolic implications of wealth and decay, particularly in the context of greed and ego.


At first glance, the gold crowns suggest wealth, status, and the allure of material success. Gold, a precious metal, is traditionally associated with durability and value, implying that these teeth should be impervious to decay. However, the presence of cavities disrupts this expectation, symbolizing the inherent flaws and imperfections that often accompany greed and ego.


The cavities in the gold crowns serve as a metaphor for the destructive nature of excessive greed. In the pursuit of wealth, individuals may overlook the moral and ethical decay that accompanies such a relentless quest. This decay, much like the cavities in the teeth, can erode the very foundation of one's integrity and character, leaving behind a hollow shell of what was once perceived as valuable and indestructible.


Moreover, the artwork highlights the ego's role in this process. The teeth, essential for biting and chewing, are fundamental tools for survival, much like our ego can drive our ambitions and actions. When driven by an unchecked ego, the pursuit of gold – or any symbol of success – becomes a consuming force, leading to self-destruction and moral decay. The cavities, therefore, are not just physical flaws but represent the metaphorical emptiness and damage caused by an inflated ego.


The artist's choice to use porcelain for the teeth, a material known for its fragility, further underscores the precarious nature of human vanity and the pursuit of superficial gains. Porcelain, though beautiful, can easily shatter, mirroring how the human spirit and moral compass can break under the weight of greed and ego.


Two Old Friends Greed and Ego invites viewers to reflect on their values and priorities, urging a deeper consideration of the true cost of their pursuits. By juxtaposing the allure of gold with the stark reality of decay, this sculpture serves as a poignant reminder that true value lies not in material wealth or superficial success, but in the integrity and substance of one's character.




Sweet Like Candy, gumball machine, gelatine capsules, H:40.5” x W:15” x D:14”, 2024

The installation features a gumball or candy vending machine, yet instead of colorful candies, the dispensers are filled with Prozac and other psychotropic pills. This provocative artwork serves as a stark commentary on the state of healthcare in America, where psychiatric medications are often prescribed with alarming ease, influenced by the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.


The Visual and Symbolic Juxtaposition


At first glance, the bright orange vending machine evokes a sense of nostalgia, reminding viewers of childhood pleasures. However, the familiar joy is quickly replaced by a sense of unease as the colorful spheres within are revealed to be powerful medications rather than harmless sweets. This stark contrast between appearance and reality effectively symbolizes the troubling dichotomy in American healthcare: what seems benign and beneficial on the surface often harbors a more sinister truth.


Commentary on Over prescription and Pharmaceutical Influence


In America, psychotropic drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Luvox are frequently prescribed by general practitioners, often after a brief consultation. This practice raises serious concerns about the adequacy of patient care and the potential for misdiagnosis. The artwork critiques this phenomenon, suggesting that these medications are dispensed as easily and thoughtlessly as candy from a vending machine.


This ease of access to potent medication is not solely a matter of medical practice but is also driven by the relentless greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Companies aggressively market their products, often downplaying potential side effects and overemphasizing benefits, leading to a culture where medication is seen as a quick fix for complex mental health issues. The vending machine, a symbol of commercialism and convenience, becomes a powerful metaphor for this commodification of healthcare.


The Impact on Patients and Society


The installation raises critical questions about the impact of this over prescription on individuals and society. Patients are often left to navigate the challenging side effects of these medications, which can include dependency, without adequate support or alternative treatments. Moreover, the emphasis on medication over therapy or lifestyle changes reflects a deeper societal issue: the preference for immediate, tangible solutions over more nuanced and sustainable approaches to mental health.


The Role of the Artist


Through Sweet Like Candy, the artist not only critiques the current state of healthcare but also invites viewers to reflect on their own perceptions and experiences with mental health treatment. By placing psychotropic medications in a context typically associated with pleasure and innocence, the artist challenges us to reconsider our understanding of these drugs and their role in our lives.


Conclusion


Sweet Like Candy is a compelling and thought-provoking piece that uses visual and symbolic elements to critique the over prescription of psychotropic medications and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in American healthcare. It underscores the need for a more thoughtful, patient-centered approach to mental health treatment, one that prioritizes long-term well-being over quick fixes and corporate profit. This artwork serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities and challenges inherent in the pursuit of mental health, urging us to look beyond the surface and question the systems that shape our lives.




Bitter Sweets, plastic Tic-Tac box, Prozac capsules, wood and plexiglass case, 2024


"Bitter Sweets" is an art installation featuring a Tic-Tac box filled with Prozac capsules instead of candies, critiquing the healthcare system's over-prescription of psychiatric medications. This transformation highlights the contrast between the casual consumption symbolized by Tic-Tacs and the serious implications of using antidepressants like Prozac. 

The piece comments on the superficial approaches often taken by healthcare providers in mental health treatment, emphasizing quick fixes over addressing underlying issues. Through this work, the artist, drawing from personal experiences of careless prescription, invites reflection on the pharmaceutical influence in healthcare and advocates for a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to mental well-being.




The Mammoth's Legacy - 200 years old wild black cherry tree branch (59" x 16" x 13")


In the realm of contemporary sculpture, the transformative use of natural materials to evoke prehistoric echoes is a profound artistic pursuit. A notable example of this is a sculpture crafted from the trunk of a wild black cherry tree, over two hundred years old, which in its original form bore a striking resemblance to the ulna bone of a mammoth's right foreleg. The artist utilized a chainsaw to make several deft cuts, revealing the bone-like shape previously hidden within the branch. This artistic treatment, though rooted in skill and vision, invites a critical exploration of its aesthetic and thematic implications.


Authenticity and Artistic Intervention


The primary allure of this sculpture lies in its raw authenticity. The wood's natural form, which coincidentally mirrored the ulna of a mammoth, presents a unique blend of natural history and artistic interpretation. However, one could argue that the use of a chainsaw, while practical, might detract from the finer subtleties that traditional sculpting tools could offer. Chainsaw art, by its nature, suggests a certain ruggedness and spontaneity, which can both enhance and limit the depth of detail and finesse achievable in the final piece.


Material and Message


The choice of wild black cherry wood, a material known for its rich color and durable grain, adds a layer of complexity to the sculpture. Black cherry wood ages to a darker hue, symbolizing perhaps the passage of time and the preservation of memory, which aligns with the ancient origins of the mammoth. However, one might question whether the material's aesthetic properties and historical connotations are fully utilized to communicate a broader environmental or historical message. Is the sculpture merely a visual pleasure, or does it serve as a commentary on extinction, preservation, or natural history?


Form and Function


The sculpture’s form, pre-determined by the wood's natural shape, suggests a destiny fulfilled by the artist's intervention. This concept of 'revealing' rather than 'forming' can be seen as a reflection on the role of an artist as a conduit through which nature expresses itself. Yet, this approach raises questions about the nature of creativity. Does the reliance on the wood's inherent shape limit the scope of artistic expression, or does it enhance it by showcasing the organic, uncontrived beauty of the material?


Visual Impact and Interpretation


Visually, the sculpture is undoubtedly striking. Its size, texture, and the dramatic transformation from wood to a semblance of bone create a powerful visual narrative. However, the interpretation of this narrative may vary among viewers. Some might see it as a tribute to the majestic creatures that once roamed the Earth, while others might perceive it as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the finality of extinction.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the sculpture made from the ancient wild black cherry tree is a compelling piece that bridges the gap between natural history and contemporary art. While it showcases the artist's ability to see and enhance the inherent beauty and form of the material, it also poses significant questions about the methods and messages of modern sculpture. The use of a chainsaw, the choice of material, and the reliance on the wood's natural shape all contribute to a lively debate on the balance between artistic freedom and natural determinism in the field of environmental art.





The Gift of the Land - tree bark, leatherette cover paper, golden letters, 2024


From the Artist (AI-generated content! :)):


As I roamed the rugged terrain of the Catskill Mountains, enveloped by the embrace of ancient pines and the whisper of the wind across bluestone, I found my sanctuary. I am an artist who has made a home in these mountains, drawing inspiration from the wild beauty that surrounds me. The land here is rich with stories, whispered through every leaf and stone, and I have dedicated my craft to translating these silent tales into sculptures that resonate with the essence of nature itself.


One autumn morning, the air crisp and scented with the decay of leaves, I ventured deeper into the forest than I usually did. It was there, beneath the sprawling limbs of an ancient oak, that I found something extraordinary—a piece of bark so large and flat that it lay on the forest floor like an open book. The intricate patterns etched into its surface by the trials of time resembled lines of text, a script of the forest written by the hand of nature. Moss clung to it in patches, marking the chapters of its long life.


I was immediately struck with inspiration. This was not just a piece of bark; it was a manuscript, a narrative crafted by the very essence of the forest. It spoke of resilience, of survival, and of the beauty that arises from enduring the elements. Eager to preserve and share this revelation, I carefully carried it back to my studio, envisioning a sculpture that would embody the spirit of the land.


Over the following weeks, my studio became a sanctuary of creation. I collected stones, leaves, twigs, and feathers—each element a character in the story I was assembling. The bark, treated to preserve its fragile wisdom, became the focal point of the sculpture. I arranged the stones at its base, solid and enduring, representing the foundation of the earth. The leaves, spiraled around the bark, symbolized the cyclical nature of life and death that fuels the forest's perpetual rebirth. Twigs stretched upwards, striving for the sky, embodying the forest’s relentless pursuit of light. Delicate feathers, reminders of the birds that chart the heavens, added a final flourish of freedom and beauty.

When the day arrived to unveil my work at a local gallery, people from far and wide gathered, drawn by the intrigue of my creation and its profound title. As they circled the sculpture, they seemed to be drawn into a contemplative silence, touched by the palpable soul of the piece. It stood not just as a work of art but as a place of reflection, a dialogue between humanity and the earth. The sculpture invited them to feel the grooves of the bark, to imagine the stories it held within, and to contemplate the gifts the land continuously offers us—sustenance, beauty, and inspiration.


The Gift of The Land  became a testament to the bond between the earth and those who dwell upon it. It served as a reminder that the land is not just something that provides for us—it is a part of us, offering its treasures with open hands. Through this sculpture, I hoped to convey that to take from the land is also to cherish and give back, to engage in a respectful exchange that honors the gifts we are given. Through my work, I strive to be not just an artist, but a storyteller of the land's silent songs.


 


Paweł Żołyński is an artist. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. In 2003, he obtained a master's degree diploma in sculpture from Professor Leon Podsiadły studio. Since 2001 he has exhibited in many solo and collective shows in Poland, Netherlands, and New York City.


Since the beginning of his studies, he has been creating works using various sculptural and painting techniques, such as stone, wood, metal, stucco/terrazzo, molding techniques, ceramics, ready-made, oil painting, and acrylics. In sculpture, he is mainly interested in banality, formal issues, postmodernism, critical art, pop art, installation, performance, and happening. He also presents his films and animations of independent films in Poland and abroad. He lives and works in Ellenville, NY.


 







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