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Igor Dobrowolski

Multimedia, Activist Artist from Jelenia Góra, Poland. ``Why Do We Exist``

Thank you Igor for taking the time to answer some of our questions for HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine Premiere Print Issue. Let’s start off by talking about your creative journey leading up to your 2016 exhibit “Why Do You Exist?” 

My journey began around 2 and a half year ago.  After painting for one year someone bought the painting from me for about 3,000 euros. It was huge money for me at the time. This same person wanted to arrange my first solo exhibition. I only had about 7 paintings, immediately I began to prepare myself for 13-16 hours a day, no days off or weekends Sundays no nothing. After one year, I had 24 Paintings and 5 installations. I received the information that we have exhibition place in in the Polish capital (Warsaw) in one of the most prestigious places.  But of course, it could not be so good. On a cold March evening  at my grandmother’s old garage, I was working on art installations with my older brother. Three weeks before the show, when almost all works were finished we received the phone call that gallery resigned from our exhibition. They said that nobody wants to see suffering, death, rape etc.  They only wanted to show nice work but we wanted to show the full story.  We were left with nothing. We had all the works ready, but now no space to show them and no means of promotion.


My older brother rang to Warsaw city in search of abandoned buildings. After a few weeks, we had an info that we could rent a 520m2 = 5597ft² . It was a very dirty space. At the same time a well known young Polish musician became interested in my work and offered to help as well. We went to Warsaw, 500 km from my hometown and the space turned out good location for our exhibition.  Three weeks before the exhibition we arrived with all 26 Paintings and 5 installations and we started to bring this place back to order. Unfortunately, when we started to clean up it turned out that the place was so filthy that it made it difficult to clean.  No cleaning company wanted the job except two woman who agreed to help clean.


The next day a guy about 60 years old with a woman about 40 years old showed up both hung over, with an industrial vacuum cleaner and a small brush. After 9 hours of non-stop work and 18 hours of our vacuuming, the place was finally clean but now we had no electricity, toilet or running water.  My brother and I had never organized an exhibition before or visited many galleries in our lives, so we were fucked. But the local builders were kind enough to provide us with all that we needed.  A musician who offered to help, met me with the top lighting technician in Poland, who provided us with amazing lighting. Every day for 12 hours of working me with my brother, tried to bring a suitable atmosphere. After almost every day of work I was ending my last painting.  I slept with my girlfriend in this abandoned space to secure the works for the show.


The space was very dark, only artificial spotlight on each work. For the entire duration of the exhibition, music was playing. The impression was very good on some days but on other days when people were less, my brother and my girlfriend would try and bring in ordinary people, even by force from the street. Very strange things started to happen for me after the opening. After seeing the exhibition, many people started crying and others were terribly suppressed or looked at me with sorrow. Many people talked to me about their terrible experiences in their lives. As days passed  more people started coming and the space filled up more then 80%.

“Why Do You exist?” explores important topics – including addiction, death, and war.  What do you want the viewer to take with them when they leave the exhibit?  Is it important for your work to evoke an awareness of the struggles and suffrage of our world?

I had not thought of the viewer to leave with something from the exhibition. I just wanted to show true stories, an appreciation of life, running time and ordinary moments that are important to me. I believe that empathy is one of the most important but very underrated features. Perhaps it is even a virtue. I do not deceive myself by the salvation of the world, but maybe my work or work of other people, not necessarily in the arts will help fix something. I hope that my work is such a minimal part of something good. For me, the try in all work to conclude a part of hope is very important, because I really believe it’s going to be “better” even after the greatest tragedies, perhaps for life or maybe death. I do not want to be too lofty just somehow feel I do not know how to put into better words.

Have you had any major struggles in your career and how did you overcome them?

I can write that every day I have to grind. And it’s very hard. I give everything from my heart and it’s always uphill. But I have my brother Krystian, my mom Teresa, my girl Kamila,  they love me more than they love  themselves. I live in a warm house, I have a full fridge. And good friends If I would complained and say its so hard for me.  I would be spoiled as fuck, and I have to think twice because a lot of people dream to end life as I have begun.

Our favorite painting is “REAL GOD” How You want to refuse god- oil on plywood.  Can you talk to us more about the story and symbolism of this piece? And what is meant behind the left top inscription: ”How You want to refuse god”

I think that I am a simple man, and my work is not complex. A priest who is interested in the problem and wants to listen to a child. For lost kids, it is like a god. If he wants to use  them. Then how do you want to refuse god?

John Steinbeck writes “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” 

From this sentence, I would remove “symptom of”.

Do you feel that failure is committed when we ignore the important issues of the world?

It’s hard for me to find a sense in life. Even as I laugh and have a great day I always see some old homeless person or thought about the poor children, these people do not deserve it. I have something and they do not, only because they had been born in a different place.  Of course, I can switch off and not think. Like many people I’m good at it.  I do not know what to say. I hope I will help someone. Or maybe that after the end of life, they will find relief and happiness.  I do not want to sound like a Buddhist monk. But I still have hope.

Our first print issue is called Black Sunshine.  What do those two words together mean to you? And how would you portray them in a painting or installation?

Very sad title: first thought I see kids playing with toys, in  war-torn places like Palestine or Syria.  Maybe one of the next works will be inspired by this title.

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