Wojciech Prazmowski

Born 1949. Photographs since 1969. 1972-74 studied photography in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Member of the Union of Polish Art Photographers since 1977. Lives in Czestochowa, Poland.

Fot: W.Gorlewski/GW

Initially he was interested in documentary photography. At the threshold of the eighties he made series of photographs documenting Jewish cemeteries. Already in this work he overcame traditionally understood photographic document endowing it with symbolic character.

His 1988 exhibition "The First World Exhibition of the Spoiled Photographs" in Mala Gallery in Warsaw marked the beginning of the new period in Prazmowski's work. From this time on he is only interested in creative photography. He makes series of photographs whose leading theme is passing of time. As the motto of his exhibition in Mala Gallery he chosen words of Susan Sontag, the renowned American critic and author:

"Photography is a mournful, decadent art. Most of the photographed objects are endowed with pathos - only because they were photographed. An ugly or grotesque thing can become dignified because it attracted photographer's eyes. A beautiful thing may become source of nostalgic yearning after it gets old, decayed, destroyed. /.../ All photographs are testimony to merciless process of passing away"

Wojciech Prazmowski makes his photographs in form of closed series. He employs traditional silver bromide technique of printing but sometimes he treats prints with the sepia toner what makes them look like archival pictures. The main theme of Prazmowski's work is the search for symbolic situations of the past, situations of everyday life. The source of his inspiration are old amateur photographs found in nooks and corners of his family archives. He makes collages of them using fragments of old pictures, sometimes adding new graphic or painted elements.

The most typical series of this period is "Family Album" which reflects most characteristic features of the work of Wojciech Prazmowski. Already in the above mentioned exhibition in the Mala Gallery he introduced to the gallery's space some sculpture-like objects. He uses pieces of wood, metal and cardboard making a kind of photographic objects. Photography plays here rather complementary role, it creates certain mood of the presented works. In 1990 Wojciech Prazmowski inspired by his frequent visits to France and his stay in Verdun has made series named "War machines" in which he has enclosed photographs in small vehicles with wooden wheels. Similarly he "imprisons" pictures in more recent works, e.g. in the "Letters of Aunt Hanka". These compact parcels of the photographed and tied with a string letters most probably will never be read again - conveying message about impossibility of deciphering the past wholly, about erosion of past things and about vanishing.

Recently Wojciech Prazmowski has made works that are most distant from classical attitude to photography. He has made series of sculptures-installations which he dedicated to renowned culture makers: Andrzej Wajda, Gunter Grass, Akira Kurosawa and others. These works are presented at third edition of the COLLECTION of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw. These unique objects have double identity since the artist shows them at his exhibitions but after being photographed have another "life" of their own and are also being shown at public presentations.

The photographic session for Matsuda, one of Japan's most famous fashion makers was the very unusual and interesting episode in art life of Wojciech Prazmowski. The pictures taken mostly in Spain were later transformed by the artist and subsequently the catalogue was printed, which not only played the role of the professional guide to Matsuda's collection but also was precisely edited art book.

Up to now Wojciech Prazmowski has participated in almost 100 group and individual exhibitions in Poland and abroad. In 1992 he was invited to take part in the biggest photographic event in the world: The FOTOFEST in Houston, USA. Recently he is participating in the Ist Biennale of Photographic Art in Schlezwig, Germany. His works can be found in many private and public collections: the National Museum in Warsaw, the Art Museum in Lodz, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Striped House Museum of Art in Tokyo to name a few.

Three years ago there was published in France Wojciech Prazmowski's album "L'ange brise" and opened in 1996 La Maison de la Photographie prepared biographical film about Wojciech Prazmowski realised by Bruno Trompier.

Marek Grygiel

Translated by K. Wojciechowski

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