When it comes to still life, we expect certain forms and attributes, commonly affiliated with it by the history of arts. Still life or, if one prefers, la nature morte, had its days of glory several centuries ago. And yet, artists have never quite forgotten this form. It lured both mystics and symbolists. It proved inspiring even to surrealists and abstractionists, not to mention photographers, even contemporary ones.
At first glance at Paweł Żak‘s works, comes to mind an association with Dutch painting from the 16th and 17th century. In most of his photographs, Żak remains careful with means of expression; thanks to that his photos gain minimalistic and contemplative dimension, bringing to mind the Japanese art and the Zen philosophy. At the same time, (whether it was intended or not) thanks to their simplified symbolics, Żak’s contemplative pictures appear Christian or even metaphysical.
As we still know very little about the world that surrounds us or about the essence of things that influence and shape us, we should pay all the more attention to analytical and sublime works by Paweł Żak. As an artist, together with a few others, he lays foundations of the contemporary conception of the still life and with it, more broadly, of the art photography itself.
Żak’s photographs reflect the turn of eras (analog/digital), the overlap of techniques (photography/painting) and genres (still life/landscape), as well as changing aesthetics (surrealism/minimalism). We see one of the most consistent artists in the history of Polish photography. (...)”
The exhibition covers the recent part of Paweł Żak's series - from 2016. However the photo-book accompaniying the exhibition contains works from whole series - since 2008.
And yet Paweł Żak remains a Sui generis – an artist inimitable and one of his kind. His series of Still Lifes is both new and logically connected to the rest of his works. We remain in the realm of imagination and phantasy and under the influence of the Poor Theatre. We still are in the area of staged photography. And yet the world created by Żak starts to pose different questions - elementary ones with dramatic perspective - questions that our globalized day-to-day life avoids, as it holds so many answers - but not the one that really counts, that is, the answer to the sense of existence.