By Bogusław Deptuła
Krzysztof Kokoryn did not know about his calling as a painter at the very outset. Originally, he was sure he was going to become a musician. He had even had some achievements in the field of music. But, he eventually decided to try and take his entrance exam for the Fine Arts Academy. And it was a good decision, one has to admit from today’s standpoint.
His paintings are private as to form; their themes are taken from the surrounding world, tainted with ironical imagination. It is clear that this artist likes to be with people, listen to music, have a good time, drink alcohol. Social meetings at a bar counter or with friends inspire him, adding a friendly and intimate flavour to his paintings. No great or serious issues have ever been touched upon in them. Kokoryn would probably decide that it is not right for him, or that he has no right, to do such things. Any such affairs run beyond our control, so we had better leave them as they are. An existential message of this sort emerges out of those painted compositions, or, records of their author’s daily affairs.
Kokoryn the painter fights trough his paintings against himself. More specifically, with his innate inclination to paint nicely. He is forced to do so by his inborn painting gift, a real manual dexterity. And you can every so often get an impression that to avoid being suspected of such nicety, Kokoryn scribbles and makes his pictures complex on purpose.
However, these are not the only reasons why his paintings look just like that. His Academy studies under Rajmund Ziemski, the classic of Polish informel style, definitely proved of import as well. The workshop run by Professor Ziemski (now deceased) consumed bulks of paint, and it was often referred to as a “paint splashers’ workshop’. The thick and clear texture, and, the spontaneous and strong painting gesture, made those influenced by Ziemski so different from those attending other workshops at the Warsaw Fine Arts Academy.
But a rich texture, daring painter’s movements, and themes of daily life, do not in themselves exhaust Kokoryn’s output as a painter. These traits are complemented by vivid colours and specific compositional, drawing, and anatomic solutions.
It can probably be said, without risking a misstatement, that those daring colours originate in the fauvists’ oeuvre, the one that is deemed to be the first-ever manifestation of modern art. In paintings by André Derain or Henri Matisse, acclaimed as works by some ‘wild beasts’, colours get autonomous. They do not imitate the reality any more; instead, they portray the painter’s emotions, frame of mind, mood, the way s/he experiences the world. In his views of London series, Derain has converted the grey-and-green city into a mass of colours, making it Far-Eastish. In the famous portrait of his wife, Matisse put a smudge of green paint, being a shadow, across her face. The painting’s emotional expression is very strong; how far it is fetched from any colloquial observation, though! Kokoryn’s method is similar, as he imbues his pictures with massive reality-free colours.
Probably most of the specific composition-related solutions have been drawn by Kokoryn from Pablo Picasso, all the same. No surprise, that: Picasso and Matisse were the two painters whose influence upon the art of the previous century proved the strongest. One may make various well-informed guesses about who of them exerted the stronger impact; however, several methods and solutions Picasso applied have become, once and for ever, part of the modern European art’s language. The cubist search for methods of shattering the space, attempts at containing the three dimensions of things within a flat surface of the canvas, constructing a piece of painting as a peculiar ‘relief on canvas’: all those achievements have made history of art.
Picasso’s merits include writing anew a complete grammar of the human body, its figures possible and impossible. The surrealist revolution supported him to this end, as it opened imaginative powers and a painter’s freedom of associations. The discoveries surrealist made rendered art different ever since, as could be expected. Yet it was Picasso who canonised the language and introduced it into the bloodstream of modern painting. The catalogue of his painting stratagems and solutions is abundant; it would be impossible to enumerate all of them.
Of great import to the development of Kokoryn’s individual painting style was his cartoon making. The requirements of serial narration, continued story, have translated into his paintings where every so often, aside the main scene, other, minor, scenes were shown, a sort of film frame. Like an ornament or supplement to a story, a component that formally enriches a picture. This might also be remindful of the composition scheme of certain icons or, simply, of a comic. It is ridiculous how the various orders of art, the great and the most popular one, can meet within a single piece of painting to create quite a coherent whole.
Watching carefully at Krzysztofa Kokoryn’s paintings, one may also well look for other painting-related clues, traces, sources of inspiration. In my opinion, another important painter, references to whose art prove also traceable in Kokoryn, is Georges Rouault who originally was a member of the fauvist circle. Lastly, the themes and forms cultivated by Tadeusz Makowski, the painter of Polish descent who spent his entire life in Paris, are not to be neglected. Even in Kokoryn’s most recent works, you can spot a man’s nose as if directly following the Makowski’s model. Jerzy Nowosielski’s lesson of female nude was also of an essence. Kokoryn has not remained indifferent to it; however, at that point, he again had to defend itself against the already-said nicety, for it is so easy to be found in, or followed after, Nowosielski.
The way a painter watches and observes is different from the one of a viewer or art historian. A painter is more watches more acquisitively, looks around to see more, and the result also goes beyond the limits of the ordinary. He or she sees ready-available ideas and solutions, ones s/he can apply almost immediately. This has always been happening so in art, and so, looking for, and discovering, common threads and motifs is one of the basic tasks of any art historian. This hunting for details and comparing may resemble, to an extent, a detective’s job, and it even may be comparably satisfactory, once you eventually discover such shared details.
It can be assumed that for Kokoryn, the history of contemporary art is an open book in which sources of inspiration may still be searched for. For him, painting is a journey across