Mateusz Farenholz

Printmaking - Winner 1997

My main body of work concerns itself with how we perceive of photography as being the 'truest' artform. We accept the fact that a photograph gives us a real view of our surroundings and memories of people and events. Initially my 3D construction pieces used found photographs to ‘invent’ a history of my parents past. Both of my parents were war generation exiles from Poland who settled in Scotland after the war. I knew little of their pre-war lives in Poland and they only had a handful of old photographs of their early lives amongst their possessions. I proceeded to base an entire body of work on fabricated lives, using family photographs and snapshots found at Polish fleamarkets and junk shops in the mid 1980’s-90’s. I recreated objects within the pictures to strengthen the fake personal links to my own family, hence manipulating the viewer into believing in my close personal ties to the work.

My new work continues my interest in using old photographs as a starting point, in a similar way to how many artists use sketches as a starting point for a new project. The selection of a photograph is instant, I immediately know whether I can visually tell a story from it or not.

After winning the Arts Foundation award in 1998, I based myself in a studio complex in Leiden, Holland and influenced by the Dutch sense of space, light, awareness of horizon and attention to geometric order, my work took on a dramatically different path - a minimal and white aspect which played with the way shadows would fall within the 3D box structures and being very aware of the idea that white itself has the potential for great variety. Photographs are still the starting point, with the 'surrounding’, created work becoming almost ghost like as it develops from the image. On initial viewing, the works still present a somewhat melancholy view of simple, recorded past events, yet often introduce visual puns based on art history or humorous and direct reactions to the photos used within the work.

My art school training was as a printmaker and another aspect of my practice is limited edition, simply printed works, often using screenprint, digital print and rubber stamps.