“I see making art as coming from an interest in the world and a fascination in the magic of art itself, from the imperfection of how the world works, from a defence against reality which wants to rule over us. Art as pure magic, the universe of what is the most important and the ultimate. Every painting, every work of art as an attempt at telling everything anew, and painting as a journey from which there is no return”.
– Marcin Osiowski, 1984
Painter, graphic artist, creator of installation art, author of critical texts and poems which have also fuelled his performative actions. He was born in 1957 in Warsaw, Poland.
He graduated from Gottwald (Staszic) high school in Warsaw. In 1976, Osiowski began his studies at Warsaw University of Technology’s Faculty of Architecture which he continued intermittently until 1986. In the late 1970s, he left for London where he worked as an interior designer. At the introduction of martial law in Poland in 1981, he found himself in Antwerp, where he audited lectures at the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts (1982 – 1984). Starting in 1982, he presented his works at individual exhibitions in Belgium and Luxembourg. In 1986, he began a collaboration with the Astel Gallery in Copenhagen. At that time, he initiated interdisciplinary experiments with the avant-garde composer Olga Magieres from the Skræp group.
Apart from sporadic activities undertaken with artists from Switzerland and Great Britain, he has worked with Ryszard Grzyb, member of the legendary Gruppa. Starting in 2002, they jointly created paintings presented within exhibitions entitled Oba at Królikarnia (Warsaw), Arsenał (Poznań), and Program and Promocyjna galleries (Warsaw).
Currently, Osiowski lives and works in Warsaw. In the recent years, he has worked with film director and composer Antoni Gustowski, and since 2018 with painter Julia Słonecka. With them, he founded the open artistic group #grupawolno.
According to critics, Osiowski’s early work was an escape from the dogmas of academic painting into irony and the use of scrap materials. According to the galleries that show his works, his paintings analyse stereotypes and the arbitrariness of social attitudes. Since the 1980s, Osiowski’s works have commented on the workings of regimes of power and the mechanisms of control and propaganda.
Parallel to critical art, he creates abstract pieces that concentrate on purely formal aspects such as colour and composition. Since his first sojourn in London in 1977, he has been writing down his remarks on art, including reflections from the period when he studied Wittgenstein (translating Remarks on Colour into Polish on his own), or Susan Sontag (Against Interpretation, among other texts). Traces of these thoughts can be found in Osiowski’s paintings; he returns to themes drawn from theories of aesthetics, the perception of reality, and the relationship of language to culture, specifically to art history.
A separate direction in Osiowski’s work are large-format paintings created with the use of hand-made stencils as well as the cycle Flags which he began in 1988 and still continues today.