Honza Zamojski

BY Agnieszka Le Nart

I feel lucky that I have a ‘profession’, that I don’t need to be an artist

2 minutes reading left

Honza Zamojski (born in 1981) – artist and designer, member of the MEDICINE design group and former member of the STARTER group. He received his MA in Graphic Design and Visual Communication from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and continues to live and work in Poznań, cooperating with the city's Starter Gallery.

Honza Zamojski, photo: K. Strudziński In Warsaw, he is represented by the Leto Gallery. Considered one of the most creative and innovative artists of the younger generation in Poland, Zamojski presents a sharply astute commentary on contemporary culture – putting forward a style that is both sarcastic and indulgent. Zamojski clearly enjoys pop culture and all its enticing wickedness, but he’s also wildly adept at pointing out every vestige of hypocrisy and idiosyncrasy that surrounds us.

These works are very personal – much like his colleague and contemporary Radek Szlaga, Zamojski reaches back into his childhood and brings back images and ideas that have stuck, blending his everyday fascinations with a troubling mix of doubt, insecurity and self-derision. From We Came From Beyond, presented at the Starter Gallery in Poznań in 2007 to Me Myself and I at Warsaw’s Leto Gallery this past summer, Zamojski’s world is rather hermetic. And still his works manage translate instantly – each piece speaks to the viewer in a very straightforward, universal code that plays upon our shared culture, our values and our worries. Self-portraits are a constant theme – created, however, using various media and perspectives – from the two-faced prick portrait of the artist using photographs of cookies and a drawing to a looping video installation, the artist proves his skill in knowing how to take himself apart and put himself back together again – always with a heavy dose of sarcasm.


In this section we introduce Polish artists, places, and new phenomena. We always ask the person or the place’s representative the following question: WHY ARE YOU HERE? How they answer it is completely up to them. Time for Honza Zamojski.

Zamojski’s technique appears based on flattening complex ideas to the lowest common denominator. This is best represented by his Monumental Statues project, in which he reduces everything from stairs and mirrors to mathematics itself to simple lines, planes and objects. And again, the message is keen and clear. Zamojski’s materials are often as simple as his message – cardboard, paper, pencil, wood and glass. He often incorporates found objects and images, such as in his Pigeon series in which classic pin-ups have their heads replaced with the heads of pigeons, referencing perhaps Ancient Egyptian idols while presenting a commentary on the depiction of women in contemporary culture. Music videos by MF Doom and rare books are among the seemingly haphazard subjects of his devious explorations – which often end up with the books scribbled on, torn, set on fire or otherwise mangled. President Obama and his “Yes we can!” philosophy are a frequent inspiration, alongside up-side-down ladders, wooden blocks, copper penny collections, matchboxes, biscuits and hip-hop music.

Self-portrait (movin’ presidential like Barack Obama), 2011

Zamojski is not only an artist, he runs the Morava independent publishing house – principally for the sake of having the means to publish books of his own initiative and design without any need for commercial compromise. Zamojski has got his fingers in quite a number of pots – treading the line between pop culture, commerce, critical art and personal inventorisation. Most importantly, his work is astonishingly contemporary – even through the use of old books and found objects, Zamojski manages to piece together a world that is timeless in all its intricate links and inspirations – all of which have come together to shape the minds and tastes of the artist today – and, of course, the minds and tastes of thousands, if not millions, of other people across the globe.

Jak jsem potkal ďábla, Morava Books, 2010

Honza Zamojski is among the 8 artists nominated for this year’s Views award, awarded by an international jury of artists and curators on behalf of the Deutsche Bank Foundation. The nominees were announced in March and an exhibition of works featuring all of the artists opened on 18 September at Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw. The exhibition, which explores the definition of self from the most bleak to the most complex exploration from the viewpoint of the youngest generation of artists, runs through 13 November. Winners of the Views Award will be announced by the jury on 20 October, 2011.

Mathematics (game), 2011

“I create my works around a number of complementary notions such as: CHANCE, ORDER, ITERABILITY, TEMPORARINESS. I take advantage of apparent opposites in the field of art, where the impossible becomes everyday practice, and frequently the very process of creation of and reflection on a project proves more important than the final result. All of my works are based on my personal experience and observations, histories and phobias. I am neither involved nor wish to be involved in art that is ‘objective’  as to content and neutral as to form. It is my current interests that instinctively foster what I do. No matter whether I write or edit books or am active in larger-scale projects in open spaces, each action stems from personal experience, frequently originating back in childhood. Remembering (individual as well as ‘collective’ memory) is not merely a re-experience of the past, but first of all the experience of the present. I am not after adopting a particular stand or being involved in politics as an artist. I believe that the most vital matters can be spoken about in a simple language, and in order to do this, one needs to avoid pathos and be honest.”

“I’m often inspired by concrete situations, places that catalyse a certain idea and accelerate its realisation. Quite ephemeral works come about this way, which wouldn't make sense if they were repeated in another location. It's difficult for me to work on a particular project, without a concrete impulse that provokes me, or intrigues me, it’s kind of like making things for the cupboard. I like the nonsensical nuances of reality.”

“Of course it’s possible, and it often happens, that the ultimate effect strays from the project, the first little idea. Many things influence the final shape of a work, both prosaic, utterly mundane issues, such as, at the very least, finances, but quite simply a concept can change in the process. In spite of the fact that I try to stick to the pillar that I’d set up from the very beginning, a change in perspective simply shifts the pillar itself.”

“I feel lucky that I have a ‘profession’, that I don't need to be an artist.”

KEYWORDS: Primitive Art, Views Award, Me, Myself and I, Monumental Statues, pop culture


I make works that I think most fully demonstrate my way of thinking: about books and the process through which they come about, about paths of narration. The book (in the current exhibition at Zachęta) is the third grey book, the final installment of the trilogy that includes We Came from Beyond/ We Go Far Beyond and Jak jsem potkał dabla (When isa met the devil), the most personal and subjective of the three. The works exhibited at Zachęta have their beginnings in the book, not the other way around. They develop themes set down on paper through the content and formal publication. Everything revolves around rap music, where sampling, scratching and white noise, remastering other peoples music and making ones own rhythmic quality. The book (and the entire installation as a whole) is intended to be read as a personal manifest, an attempt to capture the sensibilities of a generation that was raised on the music and lyrics of Wu-Tang Clan.