Interview with
Jaroslaw Koslowski
Monday 16th March
1998

Where were you born and when?
I was born in Srem, Poland, 28th January 1945.
Which art school if any did you go to and where?
Academy of Fine Arts, in Posnan.
What would you say briefly is the underlying philosophy to your work?
In general art for me is a kind of permenent investigation, a process of questioning in which one question is generating the next one, from analytical questions which were important for me in the late 60's and during the 70's, up to ontological problems which are maybe important today.
Can you describe the exhibition/s that you had at Matts Gallery?
Actually I have had quite a number of exhibitions, I think five altogether. Somehow all of them were very essential for my artistic development. The first exhibition took place in 1979. It was a drawing installation called "Caledonian Road Series". Twelve years before I did the work at Matt's Gallery I found in Poznan some enamelled plates with numbers on, however, I didn't know what to do with them. Finally, while I was standing and waiting for a train at Caledonian Road in London it occurred to me how I should use them.And I did it at Matt's some months later. At that moment it was a radical work for me because it openend the doors into some more freer activity after a long "linguistic" or "analytical" period.
The next exhibition I had was called "Easy Drawings" and again it was a drawing installation which also became a significant experience. Before I was always very clear about what I was going to do and show, everything had to be perfectly prepared. In this case I didn't prepare anything, I took the risk and came to Matt's gallery with only one small drawing which actually started the whole process at the gallery space.
The third presentation was "The Academy" accompanied by a booklet of the same name. The work was strongly related to a series of "Art Mythologies" in which I was trying to explode different aspects of "false beliefs" in and around art.
Next was "In Yellow", again an important step in my development. It concerned more the issue of "reality of art", its roughness and agressiveness as well as its hypocrisy. Things became much more tough, much more direct, quite unpleasant.


"In Yellow"

The fifth exhibition entitled "Soft Protection - The Great Britain and Northern Ireland Version"I did in 1995 in the new space of Matt's Gallery. All of the other works were done in Martello Street.


"Soft Protection" 1995


How did you come to exhibit at Matts?
I knew Robin for a very long time. In 1971 I sent a kind of manifesto to more than 350 artists all over the world. It has been called "NET" and it was an open invitation to a non institutional exchange of ideas. Robin responded and this was the beginning. Later on I started an alternative gallery in Poznan, Poland. This was in 1972. Three years later Robin was invited to exhibit there and he came with his "Yellow Postal Sculpture". The way that the gallery operated, all the circumstances, especially the interest and serious involvement of people visiting the exhibition, surprised him very much. He was affected by the many questions they asked, by the discussion that took place during the opening of his exhibition. According to what Rovbin said a few years later this was the very moment he began to think about a similar living forum for art in London and finally decided to try it. I was one of the first artists he invited to do something here.
How would you describe the experience of working with Robin Klassnik and his gallery?
It was always a very important experience because of the whole "constitution" of Matt's Gallery and the way it is organised. When you are invited to exhibit there you are free to use the space of the gallery as a studio space and do whatever is needed for the best articulation of the idea.You can work for one week or two months if the work needs such a period for preparation, and Robin is always around:to help and to discuss the concept in case of any problem. And of course there are always problems! Robin is very clear and precise in his observations and direct in expressing his doubts, so sometimes it is not easy, but there is no better place to work and feel creative. It is really an adventure to work at Matt's.
How did you respond to showing your work in the East end of London?
It is rather a difficult for me to answer this question because I am a stranger, but I have enjoyed showing here. First because of the quality at Matt's Gallery, its atmosphere and the sense of independence it offers.But the East End as a place is also very interesting, very authentic and alive. As a matter of fact most of the material for my gigantic Pegasus (which was an important part of "The Academy") I collected around the gallery building in Hackney. "Soft Protection" was made totally with objects found and bought in the Bow area.
What makes Matts Gallery so important do you think?
As I already said the very important aspect of Matt's Gallery is that you can really take the gallery as a studio, because Robin offers unlimited time to work on the exhibition, to try different possibilities and to experiemnt. While working here for longer you are affected by the space, you cannot ignore it, the work is becoming integrated, somehow more "organic". Matt's is also a good place to come, to sit for a cup of tea and speak about art. There is always a good reason to be here.
What other places do you show your work?
I am exhibiting in different galleries and museums in many countries like Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, France and - of course-Poland.
What do you think about the artistic community in the East End of London?
I think it is growing up there are a lot of new activities here. Just yesterday with a group of my students from Poznan I visited ‘The Approach’ which is a very new space that opened recently. Almost every week there is some opening or exhibition nearby, a lot of artists are living and working here. It seems to be an important part of London now, so if you come to London to see what is happening in art today you cannot ignore the East End. Especially because it gives you a different look to art: less official, less commercial, but alternative, more alive and more fresh.
Where is your next exhibition?
I am trying to take a break and rest
this year. I was very busy last year,
I did two large exhibitions and an enormous amount of new works, so this year I decided to take it easier. My next exhibition will be in Brno, Czech Republic, but in 1999.

Matt's Gallery

Matt's Exhibitions 1972-91

Matt's Exhibitions 1991-98

Other Educated Persons