By Bogusław Deptuła
There’s no-one there. This phrase reappears like a song chorus across a few hundred pages of Georges Perec’s novel La Vie mode d’emploi [Life. Instructions for use]. Not infrequently, apartments furnished with objects, whose detailed descriptions can be found there, appear empty. Or perhaps, not really empty: there’s a plenty of objects indeed, but – there’s no-one.
Adam Patrzyk’s paintings, not being illustrations to the Perec novel at all, are not empty, either; it’s just that there’s no-one in them. Of objects, there happen to be a plenty. Carefully selected and matched, they create a nostalgic ambience of being deserted, someone’s being absent from there, something being suspended. We know that no-one is about to enter, yet the obtrusive presence of objects may let us hope that someone might appear in there. However, anyone’s presence is impossible and unneeded. It would be a real act of violence against those empty spaces where colour and light have taken a predominant position. What Patrzyk paints is landscapes of non-presence.
Enclosed in his apartment-studio, he glances through the window. He does so quite often. Behind the window of a quite typical block of flats dating to the ‘People’s Republic’ times, at a fifty-metre distance, there is another three-storey house. Nothing to shout about, in fact. Its grey coming-off plaster unveils a wall made of limestone cut-stones. Its windows’ fringes are made of red brick. At all, the house’s state is rather far from ideal. And it is better this way, for some details may be spotted, and it is these details that make us feel an affinity for this building. They result in that the building looks a little like something alien (despite our knowing that in that area, stone was quite common in use as a construction material). But keeping in mind that this particular house has been a never-ceasing source of inspiration for Adam’s paintings, may trigger an even greater affinity. I do not know what the reality about it is, but I can easily figure out that in the evening, or in the night, he looks out of his dark room at the altering play of lights, at the lantern by the entrance door, at curtains being drawn, at ordinary lives of people from the opposite side. But still, there’s no-one appearing in the paintings.
And it’s better this way. Edward Hopper, the American realist painter and Patrzyk’s grand master, still showed humans in his pictures. They are lonely, even while amongst others; very lonely indeed. Of course, one could not possibly think of that any human being might out of the sudden appear in any of Adam’s paintings. This is just impossible; what should they do then? They’d spoil everything. The buildings’ walls with the fringes, numerous arcades, make one suppose that Adam has been to Italy. In fact he wasn’t, but he is familiar with Giorgio de Chirico’s painting art, and this is it. There is a whole lot of elements being, as it were, taken out of works of other surrealists.
Strange, unexpected meetings of objects occurring in places most untypical to them, of objects as if astonished at that they have appeared in there. Perfect application of colours and, seemingly, an absolute power seized over them, is in turn indicative of a heritage of Stefan Gierowski, Patrzyk’s tutor at the Arts Academy. And, there is someone else too. In Adam’s flat, I took the chance to see for the first time ever the black-and-white works of Andrzej Desperak who taught Adam before his studies at the Warsaw Academy. In Patrzyk’s own opinion, he owes much to Desperak. At first glance, this ‘much’ seems nothing. But in reality, it is much indeed, but it is not easy to describe. Drawing with a black-lead, poetical compositions located at the border of abstract and metaphorical art, of which it is hard to say whether they represent anything or appear solely to be a composition of forms. One element to it is undisputed: melancholy. I think that Desperak found in Adam a great melancholiac, someone’s being worth his own visions.
In this ‘no-one there’ statement, the major paradox of Adam Patrzyk’s paintings is hidden. If he paints scarcity, absence, emptiness, then – the strongest stress is put on what is not there: people, humans. Is it so that there’s really no-one (in) there?