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Mateusz Sarzynsky: Irony and Gore

Words:

Edd Norval
April 3, 2020

Polish artist Mateusz Sarzynsky is an online phenomenon who perfectly encapsulates the fast-scrolling amalgamated interests of today’s online audience. His art, where religious icons, brand names and blood and guts coexist, taps into the zeitgeist of ‘internet culture’.

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Sarzynsky’s artistic persona is built like a hybrid car. One part is dirty fuel - the violence, inherent not just in the physicality of the works, but in their crude nature. Then there’s the electric. Clean, crisp, with a grander idea of what the world can be. Each side is yin-yang symmetry, counterbalancing each other like the Scales of Justice.


Seemingly outlandish, the works are inherently introspective, riddles that contain their own resolution. The proliferation of high-impact visuals in contemporary culture, predominantly from online media and advertising, bear an unwanted shadow over Sarzynsky’s works. Their influence, although not intentional, is unavoidable. His life is lived neither in a vacuum, nor under a rock. Artistic truth supersedes compromise or pandering.


His art is undeniably influenced by folk and primitive styles, with Sarzynsky himself noting William L. Hawkins, Tal R and Jonathan Meese as influences, their own archaic styles juxtaposing chaotic form with a scrupulously complementary palette.

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Anarchic at first glance, the art is actually anything but. Sarzynsky’s approach is that of a Formalist, careful and interrogating, deriving what he can from the way style and form interact with one another. In many ways, the works are apolitical satire, picking holes in popular culture, whilst also setting a magnifying glass onto it. With an instagram bio reading ‘I get inspiration from TV’, his acknowledgement of his influences are open for all to see.


Still, aware of an image’s capability to mean anything to anyone, particularly when so many people from such various backgrounds can access it, the Polish artist is reluctant to delve into too much detail about his art, beyond perhaps meditating on the impact his studies in architecture may have had on his more raw style (note: he was always a fan of Brutalism). It is partly this that he opines to be a formative director of his methodology and bare-all approach.


A hard working artist, deeply rooted in his admiration of the Old Masters and particularly the religious iconography of antiquity, Sarzynsky treats art as both catharsis and self-expression, but mostly as full-time occupation - precisely because it is. It’s in the daily grind, the seven days a week to work, that the Polish artist derives most from his practice. It’s a never ending self-perpetuating mode of being.

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Currently tattooing in Krakow, art under the needle rather than brush or pencil is a perfect marriage of aesthetics and function. Yes, it must look good, but on top of that, it must function as a tattoo, as a permanent piece of art on a part of a real person’s body. This, it’s style and form, cannot be abstracted.


Admittedly taking his work very seriously, Sarzynsky is a serious artist. Not necessarily just through the works, but through the absolute dedication he gives it. One is inclined to think that this self-imposed practical order is his own means of coping with the chaos as it appears on canvas. As with architecture - freedom is derived from confines and limits.

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