NOVA Gallery in Minsk - March 31 - April 30, 2001

The Tales by Pawel Zak



"The Tales" by Pawel Zak in NOVA Gallery in Minsk, 2001



THE Minsk visual arts gallery NOVA has been purposely focusing on photography for a fifth consecutive season, proceeding from the assumption that it is a basis for contemporary visual culture. As the gallery's art director, I am very glad that in addition to artistic endeavors of Belarusian artists we have been able to present the photography art of our close and more distant European neighbors to numerous Belarusian photography fans. As a rule, Minsk-based foreign cultural offices support our projects of this kind. And the Polish Institute, with which we've had friendly relations for a long time, is one of our most important partners. It's due to its support that we've been able to execute some exhibitions that became events on the Belarusian photography scene. Let me remind you of some of them.

NOVA gallery's logoMany of you must remember the Vilnian Elegy exhibition (1999) which consisted of original works by legendary photographer Jan Bulhak (1876 - 1950) that were discovered in the archives of the Belarusian National Library. Under that project, we also have translate d the textual part of his photographic essay "Wedrowki fotografa. Krajobraz Wilenski" from Polish into Belarusian and launch ed an Internet gallery of his works at

The exhibition "Near and Far Away" of works by Wojcieh Prazmowski and Mariusz Hermanowicz was organized by the gallery at the Belarusian Museum of Contemporary Art in Minsk in 1999 and helped many Belarusian art fans discover contemporary Polish photography and its new narrative trends and unconventional visual solutions.

The present exhibition, which we hope will be as successful as the two previous Polish exhibitions, presents photography by Pawel Zak, which is very poetic in both form and content. The expressive means of The Tales by Pawel Zak and his emphasis on the manual component of producing a photographic image are close and understandable to the contemporary Belarusian photography fan.

The curator of the exhibition is Marek Grygiel who also curated Near and Far Away. He is director of well-known Warsaw-based photography gallery Mala Galeria. Without his energy and sincere desire to make contemporary Polish photography closer to the Belarusian viewer this exhibition would not have been possible.

Let us hope that the fruitful cooperation between Polish and Belarusian photography will continue gaining new shapes and directions. True, there are borders between the two countries but there are no borders for art, especially for the metaphysical art of drawing with light.

Uladzimir Parfianok

translated by Vladimir Kozlov



"The Tales" by Pawel Zak in NOVA Gallery in Minsk, 2001



The mysteries of simple tales

IT is very likely that photographs of Pawel Zak might be made beyond time. Thus at the very beginning an element inherent in photography - recording of time - is being questioned.

Looking at these pictures does not give us any hint as to when they could be made - although their sepia tone directs our impressions towards distant past. But perhaps it is some quibble the artist uses to cover up tracks that would lead to some starting point. Actually, Pawel is not interested in what seems to be attributed to photography - recording of some more or less important moments of our lives. Pawel Żak creates the world of his own which he takes over into his photography by means of a few elements. In this world of pure pictorial poetry there are not any computers, hi-tec cameras - all that technological tumult.

The individual photographs are marked with great restraint and elegance, they remind us rare graphic prints. From these photographic pictures there are sometimes emerging fruits so very realistic that they are hard to recognize (a fragment of apple, a pear). These fruits are juxtaposed in geometrical configurations with a stone, sand, pieces of wood. These apparently static compositions make a scene of very delicate tensions. They diferentiate between transitoriness of living things and something that seems to be eternal.

Some scenes force us to think about hour-glass with grains of sand running down, lighted by veiled sun which is being carried away to the other world. There is some mysicism of seclusion and mystery.

The other group of photographs deals with the world of artificial toys for children. Plastic horses, teddy bears, rubber dolls, pigs, little horses in strange mysterious configurations sometimes make animal pyramids - the motif so readily employed recently in contemporary art. Another time these toys become an element of the whole composition underlining simultanously their strongly individual character. Adequatly exposed in their confrontation with other objects they become individualised and defend themselves against a hasty unification. Perhaps in different situations we would not notice them at all.

The whole world contained in the "archeological" pictures of Pawel Zak reminds us about the childhood world, nevertheless it also cumulates some mysteries which we perhaps will never be able to uncover - even in our fully adult life.

Marek Grygiel



"The Tales" by Pawel Zak in NOVA Gallery in Minsk, 2001



Pawel Zak
born 1965

1986 - 93 studied social sciences in the Warsaw University. Graduated from the Higher School of Photography in 1993. Member of the Union of Polish Art Photographers from 1995.

Selected individual exhibitions:

"Home and Garden", Antoni Rząsa Gallery, Zakopane, Poland, 1994
"Opowiesci" (Tales) Mala Gallery ZPAF-CSW, Warsaw, 1998
"Tales", Galleri Image, Aarhus, Denmark, 1999
"Opowiesci" (Tales), Galeria PF, Poznan
"Opowiesci i inne fotografie", Galeria FF, Lodz, 2000
"Photographs", De Balie, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2000
"Tales and other photographs", Gallery WM, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2000

Selected collective exhibitions:

"Konfrontacje Fotograficzne", Gorzow Wielkopolski, 1991
"Dyplom '93'", Stara Galeria ZPAF, Warsaw , 1993
"Polish Photography", Rome , Italy, 1995
"Konfrontacje Fotograficzne", Gorzow Wielkopolski (1st prize), 1996
"Poza reklama", Stara Galeria ZPAF, Warsaw , 1997
"Fotografia '97'", Turlej Foundation, Palac Sztuki, Cracow, 1997
"Otwarte pracownie", Warsaw, 1997
"Image 98'" European Photography Contest, Vevey, Switzerland (Prix Broncolor de la lumiere), 1998
"Po drugiej stronie", (togheter with Malwina Wieczorek, Kostas Kiritsis), Photography Museum Siauliai, Lithuania , 1999
"Vztahy" (Relations ) Contemporary Polish Photography, House of Photography, Poprad, Slovakia, 1999
"Togheter again", Galleri Image - Lopehallen, Aarhus, Denmark, 1999
"Eystra sylt", Replica Art. Center, Stockholm, Sweden, 1999
"Otwarte pracownie", Warsaw, 1999
"Wyspy widzialności", City Gallery Arsenal, Poznan, 2000
"Biennale fotografii", City Gallery, Arsenal, Poznan, 2000
"Preniky" (Transposition), Umelecka beseda, (Month of photography", Bratislava, ,Slovakia, 2000


Polish artist Pawel Zak during opening of his exhibition in NOVA Gallery in Minsk, Belarus, March 31, 2001. Photo M. Grygiel


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03 - 04 - 2001