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EssayDarek Pala

By Marta Kowalewska

Out of the box

Humans are born free and unconstrained. Then, due to bans and superstitions, shaped by parents and professors we build a wall around ourselves. Who closes us in the box of restrictions - others or ourselves?

How to reverse its walls? First of all, one should become aware of the box's existence. For two young men Darek Pala and Szymon Parafiniak music, film, literature and of course art were of great assistance. Art that frees the soul. Thus, first inspirations were born. Witold Wojtkiewicz – his irony, expressionism, surrealism exploring sub consciousness, aesthetic and colour, bewitched Pala. Artur Nacht Samborski charmed Parafiniak and his mysterious art placed between German expressionism and Polish capitalism and by Waldemar Świerzy – eminent poster and graphic artist and illustrator. His project of covers for the literature series of Contemporary World's Prose strongly impressed Szymon. Both men in search of artistic freedom went to Cracow – a sort of Polish artistic mecca. But they quickly remarked that even there they could loose their freedom.

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And they did. At the time they took the infinite path of art – symbolised by a reversed numeral eight. The path of searching included dilemmas, decisions, fascinations and parties until dawn, as social life has always been a very important element of studies at the Cracow Academy of Art. For each of them a trip to unknown areas of the subconscious had started.

Having finished his sophmore year Szymon Parafiniak decided to leave Cracow to seek a different self perspective. He moved to Canada but returned to Poland three years later to resume studies in Cracow – having discovered that he could not find his place as an emigrant. Wishing to taste something new, to deeply breathe and to empirically experience colour, Darek Pala sough his place in Miami, Florida. He has lived there since 1998 but, as he declares himself, his search is not finished.

If we are able break the walls of restrictions and look in retrospect we may see our limitations in a new perspective. To our surprise, past limitations that restricted our freedom and that we fled may not be so negative. It may turn out that those limitations awake our curiosity and propel us to develop and to become the persons we are today.

Early fascinations of Darek and Szymon are present in their works. Studying the colourful works of Darek we may find echoes of the traditions taught at the Cracow Academy of Arts. Szymon's posters carry traces of Thursday's jazz evenings spent in the club „Pod Jaszczurami” (Under the Lizards). And thus the atmosphere they grew up in, places they lived and people they met have permanently imprinted on their artistic lives.

After seven years of travelling different artistic paths Pala and Parafiniak met again and memories revived. They stopped for a moment and looked back in retrospect.

How far did they go? What did they attain? Which elements of past fascinations persisted? They also ask themselves what the future will bring? What yet awaits them?