RAFAL BUJNOWSKI (born 1974) is one of the most radical and intelligent contemporary painters. His works are a brilliant blend of two seemingly remote artistic disciplines - painting and conceptual art. The theme of Bujnowski's successive projects - paintings, videos, objects or actions - are the conventions linked to the social functioning of the artist and the works of art, as well as the conventions present in the art itself. Rafal's paintings are an example of 'fully aware' conceptual painting - his objects, disclosing and changing meaning depending on the surroundings in which they are placed, are peculiar models of an artwork. They reveal a tension between the process of artistic production and consumption. At the same time, the unquestionable and outstanding visual talent of the artist causes his works to be treated as 'self-sufficient works' - very good paintings, to put it simply.
Rafal Bujnowski lives and works in Wadowice, Poland. Following architecture studies at the Krakow Polytechnic he studied graphic arts (1995-2000) at Krakow's Academy of Fine Arts. Bujnowski gained critical attention in Poland for his debut activities in the late nineties as co-founder and member of Grupa Aadnie ("Pretty") Group (1995-2001) - an energetic collaboration with fellow Academy students: Marcin Maciejowski, Marek Firek, Jozef Tomczyk, and Wilhelm Sasnal. Their lively and socially spirited ethos sought to engage with the geography and fabric of the city by using such unlikely locations as suburban allotments, city center billboards, and historic landmarks for the presentation of their work. Not only experimenting with painting as a public art form, they also made comic books, magazines, and tape compilations to further disseminate their ideas. Bujnowski was also founder and director of the Open Gallery in Krakow (1998-2001).
Rafal Bujnowski's art practice explores the new economic relationships and systems of exchange that are being produced in free market Poland. He employs painting as a tool to create multiple facsimiles of commonplace artifacts like boxes of matches, TV remotes, and VHS tapes.
His primary goal is to question the social status of art and the artist, to question the origins and the purpose of paintings. In the series of naturalist object-paintings, pictures that he framed, or renovations of art galleries carried out by the artist - Bujnowski intentionally divests himself of artistic subjectivity for the sake of "utilitarian automation".
As characterized by Adam Budak, curator of the 2003 Prague Biennale, "Rafal Bujnowski uses parody and irony in order to revitalize painting's subject matter as well as the profession of the painter himself. [...] He is fascinated by quotidian and mundane objects such as tools and domestic fittings. By making use of his own artistic ability and referring also to aesthetic signs, the artist creates work by using the traditional artistic techniques of graphics and painting. Bujnowski's primary interest lies within the functional and practical aspects of objects, and while creating their artistic illusions/facsimiles he tries to add these values to art. He treats his artworks like real products that are part of a free-market exchange. This suits his belief in an egalitarian and easily accessible art. "What is the artist to do?" asks Bujnowski. "The academy is a universal school, imparting manual skills; you can then try your hand at a variety of professions. The most important thing is to do everything thoroughly, to put your heart into what you do. The artist should beautify his immediate surroundings - this is utilitarian and useful."
Recent solo exhibitions: Paintings.Objects, Johnen + Schöttle, Köln, Germany (2003); 12 przedmiotów, 150 obrazów (120 Objects, 150 Paintings), Raster Gallery, Warsaw, Poland (2002); and Malowanie, odnawianie (Painting, Renovation), Center for Contemporary Art - Inner Spaces Multimedia, Poznan, Poland (2001).
Recent group exhibitions: Ogonblickets Anatomie/Anatomia momentów (Anatomy of Moments), Grafikens Hus, Mariefred, Sweden (2003); Sztuka po drodze (Art on the Road), AMS Outdoor Gallery, Krakow, Poland (2002); Karlsplatz, Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria (2002); and Junge Kunst aus Polen, Galerie der Marktgemeinde, St. Johann, Austria (2002).
Bujnowski has upcoming artist residencies and exhibitions in Switzerland, England, and France.