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Mala Gallery
8, Zamkowy Sq., Warsaw (Old Town)
November 28 - December 29, 2000



"People from my neighbourhood": Tomek Sikora


Tomek Sikora, from series "People from my neighbourhood". Exhibition in Mala Gallery, Warsaw, December 2000.



PORTRAIT is the best known theme in photography. Every person has a kind of image of himself and a kind of image of himself through a photograph. We have favourite portraits of our closest friends. We keep them as talismans in our wallets, handbags, anywhere.They are the guardians of our memory- always handy.

One can learn about a person almost everything while looking at one's face.It has everything engraved on it. For this reason, since the beginnings of photography, so many portraits have been taken by the world's most renowned photographers of the most renowned people: artists, politicians, people from the world of culture and science but also of the criminals, murderers. Photographic portraits were the basis for creating police files.Extremely moving portraits for the sake of evidence were made in concentration camps. Various group portraits have been taken according to different rules. Only recently, in May, one could see group tableaux of school graduates in the shop windows.

Maybe the most moving group portraits, a cross section of a society, are those of August Sanders. Similarly, the Sociological Record of Zofia Rydet is just as painfully consistent as photographic portraits of Krzysztof Gieraltowski which he has been creating for many years now.

In addition to current Mala Gallery's exhibition Sikora published his series "People from my neighbourhood" in a book format.

Photographers often choose a certain key, a certain systematics.

Tomek Sikora could not resist this refined sphere of photography either. To people who knew his earlier works these may come as a surprise. He found his own, distinct rule. He chose people from his Australian neighbourhood, people of different professions, local artists, adventurers; sensitive people, lonely souls, people with a particular sense of self value, people with painful life experience, people highly conscious of the unsteadiness of human fate.

The initial process of taking their portraits was simple. Tomek wondered for many weeks with his camera visiting known places, talking to his heroes, familiarising them with his activity. After some time he showed them their portraits which they commented upon and then someone unexpectedly put his portrait to his face.Tomek quickly made use of the moment and pushed the button. And so another picture was created incorporating the one taken earlier now being held by its owner and covering his face.The reaction to such double portrait was very vivacious and personal and so Tomek asked his heroes to reflect their feeling in the form of a short comment written directly on the photographic print. They became part of the picture and contributed their original spelling and handwriting to the overall graphic layout. These short and often shocking comments often contain a lot of self irony, peculiar sense of humour or self criticism completing the value of the whole project.

As these comments come from ordinary people they openly, with dignity and a sense of humour accept the photographer's rules becoming co-creators of this unusual venture. Together with Tomek Sikora we learn something more about people and maybe something more about ourselves.

Once again photography, like a magic wand, unveils to us the unknown and unexpected territories and also draw us closer to one another. Even though we do not live, unlike Tomek, in the neighbourhood of his heroes but 20 thousand kilometers away.

Marek Grygiel


Tomek Sikora, from series "People from my neighbourhood". Exhibition in Mala Gallery, Warsaw, December 2000.




Tomek Sikora born 1948 in Warsaw

1971 - 81 Works as a photojournalist in Poland. Produces film and theatre posters, illustrations and record covers with major Polish graphic designers.
1980 Participates in Paris Biennale de Jeunesse with 2 projects which are later exhibited in London and New York. Also exhibits his works in Poland, France, Finnland.
1982 Migrates to Australia to conduct workshops in photography at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
1983 Estabilishes an advertising photography studio and works for major advertising agencies. Twice awarded the best advertising photographer of the year. Continues his activity in the area of art photography. Publishes author's books and calendars (limites editions not for sale).
1986 Travels and works extensively all over the world. Creates surreal illustrations for children's books.
since 1996 Divides his life between Poland and Australia.



Major exhibitions

1970 - LUDZIE, Palac Szustra, Warszawa
1972 - SIKORA-FOTOGRAFIA, Galeria MPiK, Warszawa
1979 - ALBUM (with Marcin Mroszczak) Author's Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland
1980 - ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Galeria Wielka 19, Poznan
1980 - FOTOGRAFIA-SZTUKA MITU, Galeria ZPAF, Wroclaw
1980 - XI BIENNALE DE PARIS, Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, France
1980 - FOTOGRAFIA POLSKA 1839-1979, Galeria Zacheta, Warszawa
1980 - PHOTOGRAPHIE POLONAISE 1839-1979, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
1982 - TOUCHING TIME, Ministry for the Arts Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1983 - BLACK & WHITE IN COLOUR, Seal Club Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1984 - Toshiba. SIKORA & C. LA ROQUE, Graphic Illusion Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1988 - INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, Sydney, Australia
1989 - BEHIND THE LIGHT, Girgis & Klym Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1994 - PAAS Gallery, New York, USA
1996 - ZACHOWAC TWARZ, Galeria ZPAF, Warszawa
1997 - TOMASZ SIKORA - Fotografia Autorska, Galeria ZPAF, Krakow
1997 - TOMASZ SIKORA, Galeria Kodak, Warszawa
1997 - ZODIAC SIGNS, Galeria-Cafe Miedzy Nami, Warszawa
1997 - BIENNALE FOTOGRAFII - Fundacja Turleja, Krakow
1998 - "Nie do wiary nie do pary", Mala Galeria ZPAF-CSW, Warszawa
1999 - "Przejrzystosc rzeczy", Centrum Sztukiw Wspolczesnej, Warszawa
2000 - "Transparent Things", Gallery Eastwick, Chicago


Margaret Adamson, Australian Ambassador to Poland, and the artist, Tomek Sikora, at opening of Sikora's exhibition in Mala Gallery in Warsaw, Poland, November 28, 2000. Photo Maciej Zienkiewicz/GW



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