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Parasol unit dedicated a solo exhibition to the Polish artist Jakub Julian Ziółkowski. Ziółkowski’s paintings are a wild hallucinatory journey into his strange and often frightening universe. Skeletons battle soldiers in murky swamps; towers of eyeballs goggle cartoonishly; flesh peels wetly off bare bones. Ziółkowski has an unflinching attitude to the corporeal: the body takes centre stage, at once defiled and dissected.
Ziółkowski’s vision parallels a collision between the fantasy planet of Hieronymus Bosch and the grotesque cartoonish world of Philip Guston, viewed through the lens of the artist’s extraordinary imagination. Influenced by the folk tales and the often dark history of his native country, and by contemporary culture, Ziółkowski’s references are wide-reaching: from the Ancient Greeks to André Masson to Frank Zappa. Ziółkowski’s measured and often delicate command of his medium belies his sinister subject matter. His paintings resonate with an unnerving atmosphere which speaks profoundly of the darker side of human nature.
Jakub Julian Ziółkowski was born in Zamosc, Poland, in 1980; he lives and works in Zamosc and Krakow. The exhibition at Parasol unit was his first solo exhibition in a public institution in the UK. It featured a selection of paintings produced throughout his relatively short but prolific career.
Ziółkowski’s solo exhibitions include Hauser & Wirth in New York and London (2010 and 2006 respectively), Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2009), F.A.I.T. Gallery, Krakow (2007), Foksal Gallery, Warsaw (2005) and the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow (2004). He participated in group shows ‘Library of Babel / In and Out of Place’ at 176 Gallery, London in 2010, ‘Head-Wig’ at Camden Arts Centre in 2009, ‘psyche’ at Galerie Dennis Kimmerich, Düsseldorf and ‘Schüttelreime’ at Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp (both 2008). In 2009, his work was featured in the exhibition ‘Younger Than Jesus’ at the New Museum in New York. He took part in '1000 Lives,' The 8th Gwangju Biennale, Korea in 2010 and ‘Heaven’, the 2nd Athens Biennale in Greece in 2009.
The exhibition was accompanied by a new publication with essays by Ziba Ardalan and Jakub Banasiak. It was co-published and distributed internationally by Koenig Books.