Piotr Szczur born in Jasło, Poland, 1987. Graduated from School of Art in Krosno. Studied at the Jan Grodek State Vocational Academy in Sanok, 2010. Studied at Maria Curie Skłodowska University, Faculty of Arts, Lublin, 2010 – 2013. Diploma in painting under the guidance of prof. M. Drzewiński, Lublin, 2013. Lives and works in Cracow. Associated with the informal group of neoromantic painters. His paintings can be found in private collections in Poland and abroad.
MADE IN USA
A direct inspiration for the creation of the American series of paintings was a trip to the United States, during which Piotr Szczur experienced the beauty and unusual diversity of the natural and cultural landscape of modern America. From this trip he brought not only the memories of the ocean, deserts, canyons and impressive rock formations, small roadside bars, inns, gas stations, billboards and neon signs located on the famous Route 66, but – above all – the still recurring afterimage of the distant horizon separating the earth burnt by sun from a monumental, boundless sky, every day shimmering with other shades of blue, at night strewn with stars, during the sunset taking on a blood-red color.
The “Made in USA” series marks the culmination of significant changes in the content and form of Piotr Szczur’s paintings, which have been gradually taking shape in recent years. The artist, who has already managed to gain recognition in the art market and the interest of galleries and art collectors thanks to the original visual layer and the themes of earlier figurative paintings, now shifts his attention to landscape painting, at the same time limiting the relationship of photography with a painting. In his latest work, he presents America in compression and extracts the essence from reality. In the American landscape, painted by Piotr Szczur, people are mostly absent. A special place is occupied by the sky, which often takes possession of a significant part of the composition. It is there that the main action of the play is usually performed, and through it the artist constructs a narrative.
Piotr Szczur represents actually existing fragments of the landscape, although one can see an increasingly clear departure from realism, especially when we isolate the individual paintings from the context of the entire collection. The artist reduces unnecessary elements of his vistas, closes huge spaces of America in innovative, non-obvious cadres, and builds a world depicted with the help of vivid, harsh colors. Taking inspiration from nature, he increasingly perceives it as a complex system of lines, shapes, and colorful patches. Piotr Szczur focuses on the form of the artwork, celebrates the medium, deliberately guides the brushstroke, and, at the same time, splashes color on selected fragments of the composition so as to allow the element of the controlled fortuity to come to life. Thus, describing America becomes for him a de facto starting point for extremely important and groundbreaking experiments and reflections on the form of the work, which, in an increasingly noticeable way, lead him to abstraction. It seems, however, that this is an instinctive process, though inevitable, and the artist himself surrenders to it, looking at his own evolving style from a certain distance.
In the paintings from the american cycle by Piotr Szczur, the viewer can often only see isolated artifacts; short quotes from a broader context; cropped fragments of small and large United States architecture. By means of a simple sign, a small section of the remembered reality, the artist presents the recipient with the very essence, a subjective summary of modern America. However, it should also be noted that, although Piotr Szczur shows the country’s landscape from the perspective of a tourist, in his paintings we find a deep understanding and personal relation to the places he visited. Despite moving away from realism and the fragmented way of framing reality, the artist is able to show the viewer a unique atmosphere, the characteristic climate of Arizona's red deserts, empty interstate highways or the bustling beaches of the West Coast.
When viewing individual pictures from the series "Made in USA", we should constantly remember that these works are in fact fragments of a great puzzle that, when assembled, show the magnitude and diversity of the natural and cultural landscape of modern America. Therefore the proper display of images in the gallery space becomes crucial, as it reveals the true meaning of this series to us. The American paintings by Piotr Szczur are not only memorabilia. Only when suspended in one row do they begin to function as a kind of map, a testimony of the journey traveled – both in the physical and the spiritual senses. And although all the artworks from this series differ from each other just as the individual states of America do, the “Made in USA” series constitutes an extremely coherent whole. In Piotr Szczur’s paintings we find consistent admiration for the majesty of the American sky, a sense of unrestricted freedom, sensitivity with which the artist experiences and depicts the surrounding landscape, and, above all, a deep understanding and awareness of belonging to the place he still longs for. That is why, despite their small sizes, the canvases from the "Made in USA" series contain such intriguing interpretive ambiguity. Almost every one of them can function simultaneously as an autonomous landscape, a fixed testimony of the process of formal evolution of the artist's work, a very subjective representation of the remembered place, but also a sign, a symbol of the United States as a whole.
curator of “Made in USA / 100 paintings” exhibition