An Iconographic Model of the Modern Man: The Black and White Prints of Paweł Kwiatkowski

The black and white prints of Polish artist Paweł Kwiatkowski display silhouettes and shadows of figures engaged in thought, talk and travel. Upon a grainy greyish surface, we see individuals who do not have definite features. They are alien and unknown. Yet their urban, modern dispositions immediately render them familiar to us. It is as though they are reflections on mirrors.

Paweł explains: “My graphic creativity develops around the subject of human issues in a social context. In my work I concentrate on people, ordinary men who walk through the city. The project is an attempt to create an iconographic model of the modern man who is placed in the existential context of today’s reality. In a way, you may say that my main topic is the human being, the way he functions in his natural environment.

“People who surround me have become a source of inspiration and provided me with my underlying concept. The series is a minimalistic composition made of individual characters who are quite isolated from the space they inhabit. There is no completed story line, no narration in my art. Seemingly neutral, single, figurative elements of the composition build inner tension.”


Paweł Kwiatkowski


Paweł began making such prints of black human silhouettes passing through an unspecified, white background back in Italy in 2008. His initial linocuts were used as illustrations for a book of poems by Claudio Claudi. Although he actively paints in colour, he has continued with his monochromatic style that functions through spontaneity and unpredictability.

Born in Tykocin in north-eastern Poland in 1981, Paweł graduated from the Faculty of Graphics and Painting at Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts in Lódź. Since 2011, he has been employed there as an assistant in the Workshop of Combined Techniques conducted by Professor Sławomir Ćwiek. Paweł is the recipient of many prizes, among them the Grand Prix award from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and an award from the International Print Triennial in Belgrade. In 2015, he received an honorable mention at the Kraków Print Triennial.

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Images used with permission.