Silently hiding behind his media, Viktor Witkowski captures daily moments giving colour and forms to what is usually unobserved. Viktor uses paint and film to manifest his vision of the world. Rather than telling a story, the artist creates images to let others see what is usually silent.
One of the core themes of Viktor’s works is the representation of history and how it affects individual lives. Seeing politics and historical narratives as a theoretical construct, BORDERLANDS (2016) explores the global migration crisis through everyday life. The series of paintings becomes a visual document of people’s memory and gestures illustrating the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Images supplied by artist. Credits as listed.
Born in Poland, Viktor grew up in Germany. His parents went there to build a new life after escaping oppression after martial law was lifted in Eastern Europe. Portraying encounters and places he has personally experienced, Viktor captures moments, objects, and the landscapes behind journal titles. The silent act of painting becomes a tool not only to represent history but also to give a form to the human response to it.
Viktor gives voice to silence
It was also in 2016 when while walking around his hometown that Viktor realised his elementary school had become a refugee centre. Reminded of what it meant to be in a new country speaking a different language, the artist felt paint was not enough to capture the contradictions he was witnessing. Refuge is a film focusing on what happens in Germany to those who have left their lives and family behind.
Waiting for documents and permission, most of these men were just there, bored and frustrated. Unlike reporters, Viktor recorded their emotion through their silence. Respecting those who didn’t want to relive personal experiences through sharing them on camera, the artist captured how humans responded to the situation without making it explicit. Without the intention of forcing a narrative, the short film is silent and accompanied by experimental sounds to let these stories spontaneously come together in a fragment of reality.
This imperative of commenting on political moments of history through fragments of daily life has also inspired one of Viktor’s latest works. The artist created a living picture of artists’ quarantine. Filming their daily routine between April and July 2020, isolation became a reason to explore new interactions. Responding to the fear of the virus and uncertainty, artists became part of a collaborative film. This forms a living collage, rather than a documentary. After the Beforetimes reflects on cultural differences and similarities, using technology to cross physical borders by sharing daily habits and thoughts.
Back to roots
Recently, the artist also worked on the abstract series titled O.T.– German for Untitled. Unlike paintings which explore history, this series reflects on the process of painting itself depicting imaginary places in transformation. If filming is a tool to capture the contradiction of reality, painting opens new, intangible, spaces within the crisis. The multicultural influences of his journey explode in this mix of forms and colours, giving a representation of reality in between past and present, ordinary and fantastic.
At the moment, Viktor is concentrating on painting, continuing his abstract series on a larger scale. At the same time, the artist is exploring the persecution of Jews in Poland through his grandmother’s eyes, in an experimental cinematic work mirroring a past belonging to his family and endless generations throughout history.
written by Costanza Tagliaferri
See more of Viktor Witkowski’s work and upcoming exhibitions on his website.
As a local participant of PILOTENKUECHE’s round 34 in Jan-Mar 2018, Viktor was in the following PK exhibitions:
“UNHEIMLICH” / international group exhibition
Opening: 09.02.18, 19:00h
Open from: 09.02-02.03.18
Finissage: 02.03.18 19:00h
Location: Alte Handelsschule, Gießerstraße 75, 04229 Leipzig
“DURCHDASHAUS” / international group exhibition
Opening: 22.02.18 19:00h
Open: 23-25.02.18 15:00 – 20:00h
Location: PING PONG Helmholtzstraße 1, D-04177 Leipzig, German
Opening: 24.03.18, 18:00h
Open: 26-28.03.18, 12:00-15:00h
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemmingstr. 9, D-04179 Leipzig, Germany