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Paul ChojnowskiIn the Canopy (Intricate Burned and Scorched Forest Landscape on Birch Wood)
In the Canopy , 2018 6 1/4" X 24" burned and scorched Baltic Birch plywood Perhaps the single most fascinating thing about this painting is the artist's choice of medium: water and fire. There is no sepia tone, no pigment, no watercolor. The artist painted this horizontal view of tree trunks standing in a thick canopy of leaves with a wet brush on paper that he then burns with a blow torch to add contrast and hue. Throughout Chojnowski's career a distinguishing characteristic has been the use of nontraditional media and tools in his art making. His current work, images burned into paper and wood evolved as a result of his conscious effort to embrace art historical traditions while rejecting the traditional processes. Chojnowski began burning and scorching wood and paper to create his images in the early 1990’s. Since then, his fire drawings have been shown in group and solo exhibitions in art centers, museums and galleries nationally. His work was part of the set decoration on the Scott Hicks film No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jone and Aaron Eckhart and the Nancy Meyers film It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. A documentary titled AGLOW about his life has been shown at film festivals around North America recently. In 2013 Chojnowski's work was part of exhibitions titled illuminators at OK Harris Works of Art and SUB urban at Smart Clothes Gallery both located in New York. He was selected to be the first Artist in Residence at WATERFIRE Sharon, in western Pennsylvania where an exhibition of his fire drawings took place in October 2013. In 2014 his work was selected for the inaugural exhibition Figuring In at the Berkshire Artist Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, home of MASS MoCA. In the autumn a fire drawing acquired by the University of Arizona Art Museum will be part of the exhibition A Continuing Legacy: Gallagher Purchases. During the summer and fall of 2015 his work was in the first exhibition at the Fresh Paint Gallery, part of the Berkshire Artist Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts and in WAVELENGTH: THE ART OF LIGHT at the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tuscon. It was followed by a solo exhibition titled New and Selected Work at the C. William Gilchrist Museum of the Arts in Cumberland, Maryland that opened in October. In 2016 the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, NY mounted a solo show titled Paper, Plywood and Light. During the summer Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams, MA hosted an exhibition his Infrastructure Series. Both exhibitions featured new drawings on plywood and illuminated drawings on paper. Artist statement: Walking after dark in the light filled streets of American cities like Boston, New York and Chicago has been my inspiration for an ongoing series of work I call Nocturnes. As a pedestrian one is aware of being surrounded by the rich array of sights and sounds. I have no interest in a studied representation of a street scene per say. My intent with this series has always been to capture a memory, a fleeting moment of what I saw from the corner of my eye as I made my way amidst the bustling city dwellers. Visually, my subject is light: taxi headlights reflecting off wet pavement, neon blaring and shop or apartment windows aglow. I love the energy of the city after dark and I hope to some extent to have captured it in works like On the Street and Out of the Darkness.
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