Włodzimierz Pawlak

Włodzimierz Pawlak

Born April 15 1957, Korytów

A Polish painter, performer, art theorist and teacher interested in the philosophical and aesthetic aspects of fine arts. He is referred to in connection with the shape exaltation of neo-expressionism and its rich colours. However, he repeatedly returned to the colour white and the use of light in his works.


Between 1972 and 1978, he studied at a technical secondary school, but he was also intensively involved with fine arts.


During the school year 1979 to 1980 he was a regular guest trainee at meetings of the Wydzialu Malarstwa/ Painting Studio and the Akademii Sztuk Pięknych/ Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, conducted by Rajmund Ziemský (1930-2005).


In 1980 Pawłak began his full-time study at the Ziemkieg Studio. He defended his thesis five years later and became a tenured teacher at the Wydziale Wzornictwa Przemysłowego/ Industrial Design Studio of his Alma Mater (until 2007). The cycle of paintings for the thesis he had worked on since 1982 was called Obrazy zamalowane/ Paintings Painted Over (1985). Pawłak deliberately likened himself to the anonymous writers of political messages on walls, which were typical expressions of defiance during the period of Polish martial law. He dealt with the topic until 1989. As a part of the defence of his thesis, he also planned an action / happening: painting over canvases in the presence of the committee.


During the early years of his studies Włodimierz Pawłak became a member of the Gruppa / Group (until 1992). It was an association of six students from the ASP in Warsaw (Ryszard Grzyb, Paweł Kowalewski, Jarosław Modzelewski, Marek Sobczyk, and Ryszard Woźniak). The group was strongly inspired by contemporary neo-expressionism and approximated the aesthetics of the Neue Wilde movement. Pawłak participated in all the Group’s exhibitions and actions and helped to edit the collection of texts and poetry Oj dobrze już/ Oh, It's All Right Now. He actively opposed the regime and was politically and socially involved. His contemporary works were straightforwardly comprehensible and demonstrative (Świnie/ Swines, 1983). However, he tended towards allusiveness and symbolism through his use of typical motifs (for example a five-pointed star) (Czerwony autobus rusza w drogę dookoła świata/ Red bus on its voyage around the world, 1984


Flies (painting)



Adolf Hitler (painting)


In 1987 Pawłak worked on the Tablice dydaktyczne/ Didactic Boards series (1987-1988). He deliberately filled the spaces of his paintings with technical drawings, maps, and reproductions of other works of art and cultural artifacts. He then secondarily intervened onto the surface of the paintings. (Rzeźbagrecka i egipska/ Greed and Egyptian Sculpture


Journal No. 1 (painting)


Absolutely in accordance with historical changes, Pawłak's work also changed in 1989. His public engagement was gradually replaced by private and personal topics. The Dzienniky/ Diaries cycle was characterized by muted chromaticity (dominated by white and other colours in clear shades) and continuous secondary interventions onto the background. Pawłak considered white to be the transcendent colour, the beginning of painting. The characters gave it the feel of a message (boards with cuneiform writing etc.) or a record of the passage of time. In this respect, he can be compared with Roman Opałka and his series of paintings Obrazy liczone/ Added Up Paintings (from 1965). The Dzienniky / Diaries cycle was completed with a series of collages of the same name in which Pawłak used small three-dimensional objects, such as matchboxes, old tubes, tickets and small boxes. In 1990, Pawłak's cycle was awarded Grand Prix at the XXII Festival International de la Peinture Cagnes/ XXII International Painting Festival in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Concurrently with the "Diaries," Pawłak worked on the free series Requiem, which evoked musical motifs. The resulting strongly varnished canvases resembled sheet music with their linear arrangement. The symptomatic painting Polacy formują flagę narodową/ Poles Forming the National Flag (1989) symbolized the historical turning point. It was a canvas, two-colour Polish flag characteristically affected by secondary engraving in the colour layer.
Journal No. 2 (painting)


In the early 1990's Pawłak's palette was subdued. The original colour white (Ikona industrialna/ Industrial Icon
Journal No. 16
Journal No. 16 (painting)


Journal No. 30 (painting)


Włodimierz Pawłak published the theoretical essay: Wprowadzenie do bieli/ Introduction to the White. It reflected his interest in colours and the role and value of white in outlining the painting area.


Borders of Painting (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Pawłak worked on a series of revisionist contemplations Notatki o sztuce/ Notes on Art, through which he continued his previous reflections on the history of art and the theory of colours. The effort culminated in the cycle of eleven paintings Przestrzeń logiczna obrazu/ Logical Space of a Painting (2000-2002).


Wlodzimierz Pawlak - Emlékképek (solo exhibition, Budapest)
In Between : Art. From Poland, 1945 - 2000 (group exhibition, Chicago (IL))


Pawłak further developed the theory of painting, which resulted in the Partytura do baletu Sokrates/ Socrates Ballet Sheet Music (2003) and two years later the Linia barwna/ Colourful Line.
Gruppa (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Włodzimierz Pawlak - Spirit Excercises (solo exhibition, Warsaw)
a Year in Program (group exhibition, Warsaw)



Polish Painting of the 21st Century (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In 2008, Warsaw Zacheta held a retrospective exhibition Włodzimierz Pawłak - Autoportret w powidokach/ Self-Portrait in Afterimages which was accompanied by a voluminous catalogue of the same name. The exhibition included the period from 1984 to 2008.


Blue almost white (group exhibition, Warsaw)
All Creatures Great and Small (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In the Milano gallery in Warsaw, Włodimierz Pawłak presented his series of paintings Dzienniki niedokończone/ Endless Diaries which continued the cycle from the revolutionary period at the turn of the 1990's Dzienniky / Diaries. Pawłak worked on the cycle on an ongoing basis for many years. A new aspect was the obvious playfulness and spontaneity of the unfinished


Sztuka cenniejsza niż złoto (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Flagi (group exhibition, Radom)
The Power of Fantasy - Modern and Contemporary Art from Poland (group exhibition, Brussels)
Contemporary Art from the Collection of the Muzeum Kresow (group exhibition, Thessaloniki)
Thymós. The Art Of Anger 1900 – 2011 (group exhibition, Toruń)


Włodimierz Pawłak responded to the crash of the Tu-154 airplane near Smolensk which was carrying the Polish President and other prominent representatives of the country. In the Polish gallery Propaganda, he presented the Anatomii samolotu/ Anatomy of an Airplane. It was a formalistic, colourful study of the simplified geometrical shapes of an airplane.
Airplane Anatomy (solo exhibition, Warsaw)
Blue The Most Beautiful Color In The World (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Small is Big (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Oh, It’s All Right Now (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Century of Relativity. Permanent Exhibition of 20th Century Fine Arts (group exhibition, Olomouc)


Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2022