Tomasz Knapik is a visual artist from Wroclaw, Poland where he studied printmaking and graphic design at Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design. He now lives and works in Dublin where he continues his art practice at Black Church Print Studio and Richmond Road Studios. His work has been exhibited internationally in China, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, UK and USA.
Traditional printmaking with its strict technical rules and limitations challenges my creativity to develop my personal range of visual expression. My approach to this medium is expressive, experimental and process-based rather than focusing on the overall outcome.
I often inspect artworks as a whole and up close as though through a magnifying glass. My curiosity about micro and macrocosm has somehow led me to delve into the very surface of the plate, investigating closely how variations in texture and line hold and release the black ink from its cracks and pores. For me, the interplay of tonal range, gradation, light and shadow carry a lot more charge and emotion than the colour itself, hence the absence of it in my work.
Lately, I take inspiration from closely observing both destructive and constructive processes of erosion, volcanic activity, combustion, flooding, evaporation, and also man-made factors’ impact on the ever changing surface of the globe; how we interact with the planet, exploit natural resources and generate residue in the form of pollution from our activity. Lured by mountains, caves, canyons, deserts, forests and wildlife. I focus on our belonging and how we are interconnected with our environment.
I enjoy playing with the size and shape of my plate/matrix as opposed to capturing my ideas in a traditional rectangle. I approach it from all angles like a sculpture, working on it when slanted or bent to allow gravity to guide the acid, and constantly fighting with the force of friction that opposes the needle’s motion from sliding across the hard metal surface of the plate. I mainly use my own self-made tools, and have even used my feet to scratch the surface against the floor to create marks. I’m interested in discovering new ways to protect the plate from the action of the acid using unconventional grounds, and have recently moved into using more environmentally friendly mordants. This experimental approach is crucial in my creative process, at first chaotic and expressive, but then combined with surgical precision and calculation during the etching and printing stages.
Living in an era of fast-paced mechanical reproduction, easily manipulated digital images, and instant outcomes, has somehow disrupted my rhythm of creation, which has left me with little space for digestion, or time to process. I was driven as a creative to construct this printmaking enclave where I can reflect, embrace, and develop connection with this medium. I'm attracted by the mysterious quality of intaglio printing and its inverted image which interferes with seeing when creating the artwork. Thus I am guided by my intuition and my expectations are suspended until the image emerges during the final act of printing. This final discovery can be met with delayed gratification or disappointment. As I have confined my practice to subtractive methods of intaglio, every physical intervention on the plate leaves a permanent mark. The mark is often irreversible and therefore the final impression is doomed from its impact.
Transformation & Exchange, Exhibition and Charity Art Auction, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin, Ireland, 2023
Emerging Practice, Black Church Print Studio 40th Anniversary Retrospective, Dublin, Ireland, 2022
Black Church Editions, Dublin, Ireland, 2021
Small Format, International Mini Print Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland, 2017
8th International Print Biennial, Douro, Portugal, 2016
RHA 186th Annual Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland, 2016
Halftone, Dublin, Ireland, 2015
18th International Print Biennial, Varna, Bulgaria, 2015
2nd Global Print Portugal, Douro, 2015
RHA 184th Annual Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland 2014
International Print Biennial 2014 ROC, Taichung, Taiwan, 2014
Proof It, Dublin, Ireland, 2013
20:20 Hot Bed Press, print exchange, Salford, UK, 2012
Tribuna Graphic, Cluj, Romania, 2012
Greenacres Art Gallery, Wexford, Ireland 2012
Boxid Round II & III, Dublin, Ireland, 2010, 2011
From Dublin to LA, California, USA, 2010
He Wants Revenge, Dublin, Ireland, 2010
de Light box, Dublin, Ireland, 2009
Symmetry, Dublin, Ireland, 2009
5th International Mini-print Biennale, Cluj Napoca, Romania, 2005
Grafika Warsztatowa ASP we Wroclawiu, Jablonec, Czech Republic, 2005
Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki-Zdrój Duszniki-Zdroj, Poland, 2004, 2005
International Festival of Graphic Arts, Cluj Napoca, Romania, 2003
5th International Competition of Exlibris, Gliwice, Poland, 2003
International Print Biennial of Beijing Beijing, China, 2003