The output of Marcin Maciejowski (b. 1974), one of the most distinctive Polish artists to have entered the scene in the late 90s, focusses primarily on current social topics. As a member of the Ładnie Group (incl. Wilhelm Sasnal and Rafał Bujnowski), he was interested in images from everyday reality, often medialised in an embarrassing way. His works play with enduring stereotypes and, although often ironic, represent not journalistic criticism, but reflection on the limitations to our perception of reality.
The painting representing Fryderyk Chopin entitled DLACZEGO WIELU POLAKÓW WYJECHAŁO ZA GRANICĘ [Why many Poles left the country], from 2002, was not produced in connection with an official commission or anniversary. Maciejowski based his work on a portrait of Chopin painted from nature in 1847 by the Paris-based artist Ary Scheffer, one of the most strongly established likenesses of the composer. Maciejowski’s work was presented in 2002 among pictures addressing the subject of the stark reality of Poles who left the country to earn a living, at an exhibition of the same title, which concluded the artist’s Bayer AG scholarship in Leverkusen in 2001. Making use of images of figures functioning in the media, as well as ordinary people from the artist’s own environment, is a frequent practice of Maciejowski’s. His painting of Chopin based on a reproduction of Scheffer’s portrait may be read as an attempt at updating the icon of Chopin the emigrant within the context of the complex reality of the Polish economic emigration of the 90s. The artist again turned to a well-known likeness of Chopin in 2006, titling his picture modelled on the daguerreotype by the Bisson brothers Emigrant. Again using the best known Polish composer and his best known authentic likeness, Maciejowski complicates the meaning of words that have been repeated with particular emphasis since the time of transformation in Poland: success, patriotism, Pole, emigrant.