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Celestial Melancholy features a series of recent paintings rendered in light-sensitive interference pigments by Antoni Malinowski.

Celestial Melancholy features a series of recent paintings rendered in light-sensitive interference pigments by Antoni Malinowski. Created during the pandemic, the paintings resonate with memories and experiences of places visited or imagined by the artist, into which the viewer is invited to enter as spaces for meditative reflection.

Working predominantly with light-activated pigments, Malinowski’s practice resides in the intersection between visual art and architecture and has included large-scale wall paintings and drawings for historic spaces such as Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland and The Ragged School Museum, London.

Malinowski has been at the forefront of innovation and experimentation with colour in architectural practice for more than 4 decades and he remains the only visual artist to have been asked to create and lead a research course at the Architectural Association – Materiality of Colour: research into the dynamics of colour, space and light in architectural practice. His numerous collaborations with Haworth Tompkins Architects have transformed public spaces such as Chichester Festival Theatre and Everyman Theatre which was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize

Essentially an abstract painter, Malinowski has recently included representational pictorial references in his work, including Chairs which are symbolic of human presence and absence. He explains:

When I first saw Pina Bausch’s Cafe? Mu?ller I was really struck by all those scenes with chairs. Her character was a sleepwalker, and in order to get the right movement-tension, she choreographed a way of walking through the space full of chairs, with her eyes closed, but with her pupils looking straight ahead. This is an extremely difficult and uncomfortable thing to do — normally when we close our eyes the pupils go down. Yet, this tiny alteration so influenced the movement of her entire body that it became uniquely tense and evocative.

Chromatic poignancy is at the heart of Malinowski’s paintings in what he describes as a light-sensitive pictorial instability. His use of interference pigments with their light bending and scattering properties echo similar strategies in pre-Renaissance gold paintings and mosaics. The new pigments that he experiments with create subtle shifts of flickering colour as accumulations of brushstrokes are built up across the surface of the canvas, hovering and seeping into contrasting backgrounds. The chromatic shifts encourage the viewer to shift their own viewpoint in what becomes a performative spatial experience of the work. Despite these subtle pictorial interventions, Malinowski’s paintings resist any simple narrative interpretation and invite the viewer to meditative contemplation on colour and light.

As Sarah Kent observed in her review of Malinowski’s exhibition at Camden Arts Centre (1997): 

…rather than attempt identification, one is happy to swim over or be soaked in by the inviting islands of warm colour. Most pervasive is one’s awareness of the calm intelligence that created these images which resonate with so many associations yet are limited by none of them. Wonderful.

Antoni Malinowski, Celestial Melancholy, 6th – 28th October 2023, L’étrangère at Austin / Desmond Fine Art 68-69 Great Russell St London WC1B 3BN

Private view, Thursday 5th October 6.30 – 8.30pm

About the artist

Antoni Malinowski (B, Poland 1955) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw and Chelsea College of Art in London. Malinowski’s painting/drawing installations include: Placed/Displaced at Chisenhale Gallery in London, 1986, Wall Drawing for RIBA, London 1998, Echoing the Pavilion, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea.  Bridging Lines, Venice, (shown during the Architectural Venice Biennale, 2004), Bridging Lines, Milan at Studio Giangalezzo Visconti and Assab One, Milan, 2005 and Bridging Colours, Gallery 175, Seoul, South Korea, 2010. Malinowki’s work has been widely exhibited internationally and is in many private and public collections including Tate, London, British Council, Arts Council and Nat West Group Art Collection. Major Solo exhibitions include, Camden Arts Centre (1997) Light Triggered (Ragged School Museum, London, 2018) and Almost Seen (Assab One, Milan, 2018). antonimalinowski.co.uk



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