juice 0.6

oil on canvas, 170 x 160cm, 2018

Agnieszka Cieślak 

 

Marcin Janusz: 90% Juice, 10% Sugar

 

In his paintings, drawings and photographs Marcin Janusz focuses on portraying the unique character of individuals, although – paradoxically – he avoids showing the human face: figures stand turned around, wearing masks, or their faces are filled in solely by a mixture of coloured splotches. The hidden identity is contrasted with a demonstration of a proud male physicality, captured on the border of boyish charm and the burgeoning strength of a mature man.

The intimate portraits do not merely characterize the heroes in their physical dimension, but they also say a great deal about their psyche. “I externalize their doubts, fears and desires, balancing on the boundary of maturity and childhood,” writes the artist. Although the 90% Juice, 10% Sugar exhibition mainly displays his most recent, abstract works, they constitute a continuation of

the figurative explorations of the artist. 

A key word in Janusz‘s oeuvre is metamorphosis, understood as a physical transformation, as well as – and perhaps primarily – changes occurring in the human psyche.  Transformation also occurs in the painting style of the artist: from figurative to abstract and on to ever newer experiments with the form and matter of the painting. Despite all its variety Janusz’s creative work is internally consistent, and certain motifs and strategies, such as using pastel colours and organic forms or combining various techniques (oil paint, watercolours, spray paint), have accompanied him since the very beginning. 

The 90% Juice, 10% Sugar exhibition presents works from 2016–2018 which constitute a cross-section of the artist’s work so far with a predominance of newer painterly experiments created with his diploma work in mind. The sole figurative painting in the exhibition, L6 from the series Icing (2016), presents a figure with a masked face lying in a fairly provocative pose and looking directly at us. The figure and the background have been blurred with a yellow spray line that is associated with street graffiti (later Janusz achieves a similar effect with oil paints). The painting originated on the basis of a photographic self-portrait of the artist, much like most of his non abstract works. Presenting a frivolous, liberated individual refers us to a fascinating process of maturation. Maturation, in this case of an artistic nature, is also visible in the works presented in the exhibition that come from subsequent painterly cycles.

I'm oozing juices 2

oil on canvas, resin, 150 x 140cm, 2018

Since 2016 Janusz has been interested in formal experimentation, casting aside literal figurativeness in favour of abstraction. Although it is not immediately perceptible, these paintings are only superficially abstract. Biomorphic shapes in pastel, sugary colours essentially constitute imagined physiological and metabolic processes that take place in

the human body. These are internal portraits  in the literal sense of the word, phenomena visible only under a microscope become revealed in them on a macro scale. 

The pastel colours can be associated with a style typical for sportswear which alludes to

the theme of vitality in the context of caring about one’s health.

In creating the series Vitalic (2016–2017), Janusz combined reflection on the idea of vitality, understood as life energy related to the physical fitness of the human body, with

the conviction that the right dose of poison can function as medicine. The artist labelled substances acting in such a manner as “pharmacons,” perceiving in them the possibility of “cleansing” the body and positively influencing the human psyche, among other things through changing one’s awareness or broadening cognitive perspectives.  The vivid colour scheme of the paintings, at moments giving the sensation of seemingly emanating light,  creates a “toxic” atmosphere which intrigues and attracts and simultaneously disturbs one. The intense colours, often highly contrasting with one another, are intended to stimulate

the viewer, as do psychoactive substances.

Janusz continues to explore the problem of the relationship between vitality

and the medicinal properties of poison in the series 90% Juice, 10% Sugar (from 2017), adding to his repertoire artistic experiments with resin. The substance “eats into” oil paint, illustrating  the concept of “pharmacons” at the level of painterly material: as a result,

on the surface of the painting little blisters are formed that are reminiscent of human secretions, such as saliva, bile or sweat, which often accompany detoxification. The first work in a larger format made by means of this technique is juice 0.5 (2018); the organic character of the painting was augmented further by using a skin-colour background.

In the described cycle  Marcin Janusz uses a darker colour scheme than in his earlier works (juice 0.2, 2017), although they do not lack in canvases that have vivacious, dynamic colours (juice 0.1, 2018). The culmination of the artist’s technological experiments is

the newest painting from the cycle with the significant title I’m oozing juices: multicoloured, organic forms reminiscent of biological samples viewed under a microscope are combined with coarse textures obtained with the aid of resin. In these works the artist attains a certain aesthetisation of ugliness by showing  the body fluids which usually repel us in such

a manner that we cannot take our eyes off of them.

I'm oozing juices 4

oil on canvas, resin, 50x40cm, 2018

juice 0.8

oil on canvas, 60x50 cm, 2018

I’m oozing juices 3 

oil on canvas, resin, 120x100cm, 2018

objects

untitle, quartz glass, approx. 25x15x35cm each, 2018

objects

untitle, quartz glass, approx. 25x15x35cm each, 2018

1/5
view of the exhibition 27 elements and others, Shefter Gallery, Cracow, 2018, Poland, fot. Grzegorz Mart
I'm oozing juices
oil on canvas, rasin, 170x160cm, 2018
juice 0.5
oil on canvas, resin, 130x110cm, 2018

juice 0.2

oil on canvas, 160x130cm, 2017

In the painting Vitalic 0.3 (the Vitalic series, 2016), Marcin Janusz covered a broken crystal glass with oil paint, and he used a similar device in the object

10% Sugar (2017), with its form corresponding to

the organic shapes occurring in the artist’s painting. 

The “crystal sugar” used in both of these works corresponds to various substances and dietary supplements that have a vital influence on

the psychophysical condition of a human being

and a seminal one on the vitality of his or her body.

In the glass roller that serves as the base for the object in 10% Sugar multicoloured pigments were submerged: colourful streaks appear to fall out of crystal forms,

and captured in motion  they constitute three dimensional representations of colours used by

the artist on the flat surface of the canvas. 

The most recent creation is an abstract sketch printed on textile. This work gives the exhibition the character

of an installation; it also fulfils the function of ordering the exhibition space and promises that Marcin Janusz will surprise us with more than one painterly experiment.

                                 10% of sugar
cristal glass, quartz glass, 38x45x33; 10x8cm, 2018
juice 0.03
canvas, rasin, 40x30cm, 2017
juice 0.02
oil on canvas, rasin, 30x24cm, 2017
juice 0.04
oil on canvas, rasin, 30x24cm, 2017
juice 0.1 
oil on canvas, 170x160cm, 2018
juice 0.01
canvas, rasin, wax, 40x30cm, 2018

1/5

view of the exhibition 90% of juice, 10% of sugar, Labirynt Plaza Gallery, Lublin, Poland, fot. Wojciech Pacewicz