Monochromacy | Andrzej Urbanski

8/6 2023

Macadam Gallery | Bruxelles | Belgium

Andrzej Urbanski is an established Cape Town-based artist prized for his immaculate hard-edged abstract art. The clean, precise forms defining it belie its relationship to memory, sensory and spatial encounters, emotions and psychic states, which are channelled most often into overlapping colourful geometric shapes, implying resolution. The bold shards of colour characterising his art may recall objects, places, experiences from his youth, the colour of a building or a room, or encompass the state of mind he is in as he steps into his Woodstock studio. As such his painted art is described as ‘high’ or ‘low frequency’, referring to either a complex matrix of influences shaping intricate compositions, or in the latter instance, quieter, ‘less busy’ forms often united by a subdued colour palette. His art appears to be the result of an automated process – the precision of its execution engenders this notion that it is generated by a detached, robotic or digital tool. His interest in generating this illusion is rooted in his fascination with digitally produced art, the digital tools he uses in plotting his intricate compositions, the relationship between lived experience and virtual reality and the valorisation of handmade products in the post-industrial era. It is also informed by his appreciation for the minimalist movement, though he is inspired by a range of high modernists from Rothko to Piet Mondrian. He employs the unconventional spray paint medium in his abstract painting as it produces flat colour and removes any trace of the ‘artist’s hand’. This conforms not only to the minimalist ethos but his desire to replicate imagery that appears to be digitally generated. He is a prolific painter and sculptor who has participated in countless group exhibitions around the world since graduating with a Masters in Fine Art from the ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2012. He was born in Poznan, Poland in 1983 and settled in Berlin, Germany with his parents in 1989. Growing up in Berlin’s ‘grey zone’ after the fall of the wall in the late eighties when barriers between east and west were eroded activated his participation in street culture. He first experimented with spray-paint as a grafitti artist before applying this medium in a fine art context. After exhibiting in shows in his then hometown of Berlin, Georgia USA, Canada and Switzerland, a Cape Town residency brought him to South African shores in 2012. He relocated to this country and enjoyed his first solo exhibition, Mindgame, here in 2015 at Salon 91 Gallery in Cape Town. It was a sell-out show and he has gone from strength to strength as an artist, producing larger more ambitious works and compositions. His art is distinctive and of high quality earning him a solo booth at the 2016 FNB Joburg Art Fair. He is currently represented by the oldest and largest art gallery group in South Africa, Everard Read. A successful 2016 solo exhibition at their Circa Cape Town gallery will be closely followed by exhibitions in Circa Joburg and Everard Read London in 2018. “Urbanski is a rare breed of artist – one who authentically manages to playfully negotiate perfect applications and concrete designs with a focused ability that denotes fresh and pertinent abstract experimentation,”  says Emma Van Der Merwe, Head Curator at Everard Read. “Urbanski has settled on a vocabulary and aesthetic that chimes with these times though its lines extend back in time,” wrote art commentator Mary Corrigall in Cape Times, August 23, 2017.

For this second solo show, Urbanski presents through sculptures, installations, reduced chromatic ranges and shaped canvas compositions more mature and refined without losing contact with his strong artistic identity.