Printmaking Today – Karol Pomykala
“Linocut is a synonym of life for me, it’s my daily life.”Karol Pomykala
We make decisions that often can’t be undone every day. That is why most of our choices should be well thought-out. The same thing is with graphics, especially with linocut and woodcut. Once put or cut line or dot will stay forever on the surface of the matrix. It is impossible to return or delete the action taken. That is why every movement should be also very well considered. In other graphic techniques, such as traditional or digital, you can undo or retouch the element, you are not satisfied with. But there is no place for mistakes in linocut. And actually, the lack of the possibility of correction attracts me so much in this technique. This is the reason, why I chose it as my language of artistic expression.
Another very interesting and important issue for me is the fact that linocut is often considered as an easy and clumsy technique where the artistic language is very poor. It is usually black and white, consist of thick cuts and seems to be primitive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Linocut, as well as the woodcut, offers great possibilities for artistic expression and a wide range of assets. Obviously, if you want to get a satisfactory effect you have to work a lot. Linocut/ woodcut is a very difficult technique that requires the artist to possess great skills and immense patience. In order to get deeper into the process of creating graphics, you can explore various methods for developing the matrix constantly expanding new ways to create a drawing. I can say from my own experience that I am still discovering new forms of creation witch allow me to deepen the workshop as well as broaden the visual aspects of my graphics.
My adventure with linocut started while studying at the Faculty of Arts at UMCS in Lublin. I was lucky that on my way I met such a wonderful teacher/master and a great graphic designer, Prof. Krzysztof Szymanowicz, who is a superior example for me up till now. It was actually him who opened the world of graphics and linocut for me. And this world has no limits. Thanks to him I discovered the point linocut which changed my perception of this technique.
Point linocut is a very specific and demanding technique to develop linoleum. It is based on cutting out points of different sizes with various concentration. This method allows obtaining effects difficult to find in the traditional way of cutting. The tonal transitions that you can obtain might be comparable to other techniques such as mezzotint. An interesting fact is that the point linocut is strongly associated with Lublin and its local artists. Often distinctive and intricate point linocuts are referred to “Lublin school” linocuts. This term was created by artists living and creating in this city, who won awards at international competitions and exhibitions for their work in point linocut technique. This group includes among others: Krzysztof Szymanowicz, Grzegorz Dobiesław Mazurek, Stanisław Bałdyga and Maksymilian Snoch. I encourage you to get acquainted with the works of these outstanding artists because it will certainly change your perception of linocut.
Being very impressed by the possibilities offered by point linocut, I looked at my projects in a completely different way. I started to create realistic representations of objects around me. This is how the graphic cycle “Changes” was created. These are large format graphics showing deformed carton boxes. Each of the graphics consists of thousands of tiny dots, which create a particular image. The creation of this cycle launched new ideas in my mind and the desire to deepen the graphic world. The new cycles appeared, and my workshop was expanding and evolving with newer ideas being generated.
In my next works, I started to add lines and combine them with points to enrich the image even more and I am constantly looking for new ways of visual expression. However, I continuously use two basic elements: points and lines. All of my graphics consists of thousands of them. They are the basic element of my works. I create compositions illustrating abstract forms or created world and situations on the basis of these two simplest elements.
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In my creative work, I constantly try to challenge myself to overstep my powers and raise the bar. I am very far from creating in one style. I always try to undertake new topics and problems and I am always in search. I started to experiment with traditional graphics and the opportunities it offers. The last two years were full of projects related to graphics which are often a combination and extension of relief printing.
One of those experiments was a creation of social campaign entitled “Stress. What’s eating you” together with Saatchi&Saatchi agency. For this campaign, I prepared a series of the smallest graphics I’ve ever done. The graphics were cut on the nails and then reflected. You can check the video to see the effect of this project.
Another experimental implementation which I drew from the value of the relief print was a graphic made in co-operation with a robot. It was based on a specially generated algorithm. In this case, I created a drawing on the matrix together with a robot. Its task was to cut 5 million dots while mine was to cut lines at the same time. The combination of it gave the graphic a specific look. You can check the video to see the effect of this project.
I realized that the graphics may have a lot of faces. I’ve always been attracted by new technologies and everything they can offer. However, for me, the most tempting are the opportunities given by technologies and not the innovation itself. This is how the idea of combining the linocut and the extended reality appeared. I wanted to create an installation that could allow entering my graphics for a long time. I wanted to let the viewer get into the world I created and to make the one be more interested in the problems that trouble me as an artist. After a lot of months of work, I managed to create a graphic installation entitled “One direction”. It portrays a series of infinitely repetitive figures deprived of individual characteristics. Thanks to VR glasses the viewer completely gets into the middle of the crowd, immerse in it and become a part of the installation. It allows the recipient to feel almost tangible overwhelming and helplessness of the individual. The work is the combination of the traditional graphics created in linocut technique together with modern technology represented by virtual reality. This is the collision of the relevant and the virtual, transposition of two-dimensional analog print into the three-dimensional computer-generated world. This action aims to deepen the viewer into the created world and serves to strengthen the perception. The installation consists of two elements. The first one is graphics, large format linocut at the size of 140×400 cm. The second one is VR set with a looped animation 360.
The picture you see in VR is an animation and an extension of large format linocut, exposed on the wall. Here is the video showing the process of the creation of this installation.
This project has become a milestone in my work, opening a range of new opportunities and new ideas. I managed to create the installation, that draws from the value of the relief print. Thanks to the use of VR, it literally allows you to get into the world of my graphics. This installation won Grand Prix at the International Print Triennial in Krakow. This is the greatest distinction I have ever got for my work so far. This award assures me more in my belief, that the path I have chosen leads me in the right direction.
This article was written by Karol Pomykala and all images copyright © karolpomykala 2019
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