Marek Kijewski

"Marek Kijewski is a sculptor. He was born in 1955 in Gdańsk, and died on August 19th 2007 in Warsaw.
A student of Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts from 1981 to 1985, he graduated in sculpture in the class of Professor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz. Between 1985 and 1987, he was a member of the Neue Bieriemiennost group with Miroslaw Bałka and Miroslaw Filonik. From 1996, he worked with Małgorzata Malinowska/Kocur as an artistic duo. He lived and worked in Warsaw.
Right after his studies Marek Kijewski created figurative sculptures that were close to "new expression" in style. His pieces and spatial installations were characterized by an ironic perversity, and their titles were an integral part of the messages poetics (With Arm and Sword / Żywią I bronią, The Meditations of King Sigismund III About a Woman Fallen in Spirit / Rozmowa Zygmunta Trzeciego na temat kobiety upadłej na duchu). Towards the end of the 1990s, Kijewski slowly stripped his works of expressiveness and figurative forms in favour of a contemplative edge and a search for the mystical, abstraction. After a period of simplifying forms, he gradually deprived his sculptures of a physical dimension, creating projects which primarily used light (incandescent and neon) as their material. He also introduced colour (primarily blue, red and white) into his sculptures and its symbolism as defined by the Orthodox theologian Paul Florensky. This became a very important motif in Kijewski's later projects, in which the artist transformed colour symbolism into one of the primary semantic tools of his work.

In the mid-1990s Kijowski expanded his interests to include contemporary visual culture, mainly mass culture, and he began using completely non-artistic materials in his pieces which were often everyday objects (e.g. Fred Flinstone from Knossos – concrete, polyurethane foam, peacock feathers, ripe bramble candies, green bramble candies, bull horns, gum; John Cage’s Portrait – beer cans, a marble lamb, condoms, gum; I’m Pregnant – walnuts in shells, plywood, gum; Queen Midas Looking for Bugs – Lego blocks, concrete, 24 carat gold, gum. He combined these new interests with a continued focus on high art, allusions to the canons of world culture, references to philosophy and religion. This sphere of references is reflected in his use of precious materials liked gold flakes, bronze, hallucinogenic drugs, and precious stones, and in the links he preserves to classical sculptural forms like totems, obelisks, monuments, busts, and equestrian statues. These surprising combinations of various materials, forms, motifs and traditions from the repository of both high and low culture result in the creation of an unusually original, highly subjective, yet extremely familiar set of meanings which defines the thoroughly contradictory spirituality of the post-modern era.

Kijewski/Kocur came to use the term SSS (surfing, scanning, sampling) to refer to the creative strategy or method used in the later years of their cooperation. The individual components of the name are familiar to computer/Internet users and to creators of rap, hip-hop and techno, in which the underlying tracks are composed of selected samples of already existing music. 
   " This concept allows us to perform our own intellectual surfing through culture. We move through this space, freely scanning any elements we view as significant, to the past, present or future. These fragments, deprived of their identity, constitute the material which is sampled in the computers of our imaginations."

Based on elementary icons, the artists created works which were semantic hybrids, juxtaposing religious and mystical motifs with pop-culture icons like Simon Templar, Bugs Bunny, or the Flintstones, the Suprematist works of Malevich with computer bits, and Andy Warhol with a centaur. Their works are visually attractive, replete with subtle humour, and above all inspire us to a multitude of interpretations and to embark on the many cultural paths which intersect within them.
Around the year 2000 Kijewski returned to primary forms in his pieces. Around the same time the system Ethical Bits was created, which related to the dichotomies of good vs evil and mind vs matter, and visual constructions which represent them. Bits, the smallest elements of computer space, were combined in this system with the colour symbolism adopted by the Orthodox Church, Malevich’s Suprematism and the colour gold representing energy. Kijewski intended the Ethical Bits language to aid our passage into the world of new spirituality (third millenium). Bites are shaped in the form of a cube or the letter T, made of plastic with dimensions based on the elementary numerological scale from 1 to 9. He used them to build architectural constructs called ‘gates’: Heaven Gates, Papa Gates, Hell Gates, Bill Gates, and Golden Gates, as well as bas-reliefs which were an expansion of this system in a plane.

In 2003, the artistic duo presented billboard art at the exhibition entitled Three Triptychs +... at the Arsenal Gallery in Poznań. ‘It is something completely different than large scale advertising boards. We transform billboards into practically painting planes.’ That is what happened with Fokus 1, where the image of a B2 bomber transformed on the billboard into a uniform, nearly abstract structure or the piece Invasion representing a figure of Mao Tse-tung multiplied. The gold Mao figure repeated numerous times fills the whole space as though they were an army of praying clones. The artists raised the issue of media coverage of wars, transforming a horror into a visually attractive reproductive material.
In 2007, Kijewski invited a group of artist friends of his to a open-air workshop entitled Bifurcations. Among them were Małgorzata Malinowska, Piotr Kurka, Robert Rumas, Julita Wójcik, Joanna Rajkowska, Oskar Dawicki, Robert Jurkowski, Leszek Golec, Tatiana Czekalski, Mirosław Bałka and Tomasz Stańko. During his stay in Orońsko, Kijewski created a prototype of his work First Element, that was supposed to consist of thirteen figurines of dogs cast in resin. There was a huge heart ‘growing’ out of each of their chest – Kijewski planned to place a small amount of explosive material inside them for the post workshop exhibition, so that the dogs' hearts would explode (yet he resigned from the idea for safety reasons). The twelve figurines in blue, red and one in gold were symbolically referring to the spirit (blue), matter (red) and pure energy (gold). The installation was never finished as the artist died shortly after the workshop. However, it was possible to reconstruct it based on sketches and the prototype design. It was then presented along with the other artist’s pieces at the post workshop exhibition Bifurcations in Orońsko in 2008."
Author: Ewa Gorządek, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, October 2004; up-date: June 2009, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska, September 2015 (

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