There is a delicate balance between humor, satire and criticism in both the form and content of Piotr Szyhalski’s photographs. He borrows techniques and conventions from Constructivist poster design and propaganda laden Social Realist Painting to create works of personal protest cloaked by a cool intellectual wit.
Szyhalski studied poster design, photography and drawing at the Academy of Visual Arts in Poznan, Poland and incorporates these methods in his work. In the image on the cover he uses a technique called fotonit, popularized by the Dederko family in Poland in the 1920’s. The basic technique is to rework an original photograph with inks and paints and then re-photographs the original to produce the seamless finished print.
Szyhalski and members of his family are often the central characters in his photographs. In the image to the right Szyhalski plays the part of a soldier holding an unrecognizable object in his hands as a banner above his head proclaims ‘OUR FUTURE IN OUR HANDS.’ In mock uniform Szyhalski’s sly Mona Lisa smile asks us how the utopian ideologies of the past can fill our hands with promise for the future.
Ownership of labor, the force of religion and the fight for essential freedoms are very large issues to confront in any single artistic medium. Szyhalski addresses these issues with daring elegance that underscores a basic human struggle to pursue our conscience and convictions
Piotr Szyhalski lives in Kalisz, Poland and is teaching photography this spring at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Dan Fuller, a graduate student at the Visual Studies Workshop, helped arrange Piotr’s residency at Light Work from September 17 to October 17, 1990. During his residency he prepared work for upcoming exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, the California Museum of Photography in Riverside and Columbia Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.
Jeffrey Hoone (c)1991