I've been living in somebody's dream for some time
Is it possible to find yourself in someone's dream; in someone else's imagination? What happens when we are suddenly thrown in the very epicenter of another person's subconscious; into a world so different that it is almost unreal? Bartłomiej Kiełbowicz experienced this a few years ago. The result of this journey, both symbolic and real, is the presented exhibition.
The works collected in the Contrast Gallery come from the recent two years. The starting point of the narrative is the period of collaboration between Kiełbowicz and the Brussels-based Roberto Polo Gallery, and in particular the time spent as an artist-in-residence in the house of a countess, the art dealer's partner. Together with another Polish creator, Tomasz Partyka, for a month they were supposed to stay in confinement, like renaissance painters, to admire the beauty of the surrounding nature. As a result, the idyllic landscape quickly turned into an oppressive scenery, and the inability to get out of the golden cage only intensified the impression of alienation and derealization.
The entire complex, which consisted of many hectares of gardens and a house, was built in the 80s. The main inspiration for the interior design and architecture was the world of dreams that haunted the owner in childhood. The whole created, therefore, a unique, emotional, oneiric character, reflecting deeply hidden fascinations and fears of the founder. Wooden slide houses in the shape of birds, waxen heads and mannequins, enormous beds suspended from the ceiling, as well as numerous collections of photographs depicting the world and the bygone life caused that the painter was practically thrown into someone else's completely incomprehensible reality.
The collection of multi-format paintings, drawings, small objects and photographs is a unique and very personal chronicle of the weeks spent in the Belgian mansion. I've been living in somebody's dream for some time... is a form of artistic litmus paper, which is a record of emotional states experienced by Kiełbowicz at that time. From sketches, depicting objects abandoned by former owners, forsaken and distorted by the passage of time, to large-scale drawings and paintings suggesting the artist's pervasive state of isolation. Separation from the outside world has resulted in a series of diverse creations that document each day of the extraordinary scholarship in a coherent and transparent manner.
The works presented by Kiełbowicz are not only a reflection of the artist's sense of alienation; they can also be interpreted as the portrayal of the symbolic closure of the Belgian elite. Isolating from the outside, residents of the surrounding towns formed small, wonderfully stylish ghettos around them. In Kiełbowicz, the symbol of fencing is a hedge. A green, elegant wall, completely surrounding privacy, fulfilling its task perfectly and accurately. The hedge defends its owner against anything outside of it. One testimony to the existence of the inhabitants 'from beyond the hedge' was garbage - the waste of everydayness, a prosaic element of life. For Kiełbowicz, however, it acquired a new meaning - it became the certificate of presence, regularly displayed every Sunday beyond the barrier of the green wall.
The theme of a hedge also appears in the artist's paintings and drawings. Assuming abstract forms, it became one of the main elements presented at the exhibition. A similar role is revealed by the representations of sand castles - forms well known from childhood, brittle and impermanent; easily crumbling due to time and external conditions. For Kiełbowicz, a sand castle also has a more personal character - the stay at the residence of the Countess, at the beginning seeming to be very promising, crumbled like a structure of drying grains of sand. Originally an exciting artistic project only became an overwhelming illusion.
The painter was almost thrown into someone's consciousness, and the deepening and ubiquitous sense of isolation led to a new stage in his work; more synthetic and abstract. This is a unique documentation of impressions and emotions, which is not only a transfer of the artist's feelings. I've been living in somebody's dream for some time... is also a record of the creative evolution that came after returning from the artistic residence caused by an experience so strong that it has had a constitutive influence on the work of Kiełbowicz in recent years.