Leszek Knaflewski – by Honza Zamojski
7 October 2014
The Polish artist Leszek Knaflewski passed away suddenly on the 6th of September, 2014. Born in Poznań in 1960, Knaflewski was an audiovisual artist, well-known for his audio-performative activities, by means of which he undertook a discussion with contemporary culture. Knaflewski was the founder and director of the Audiosphere Studio at the Poznań University of Arts’ Faculty of Multimedia Communication and his works can be found in the collections of a number of institutions. We never met him personally, but we had the chance to collaborate with him for the exhibition Space is the Place 2014 in Basel. The first time we encountered his art was on the occasion of the Rookie Book Fair in Poznan ￼through an amazing book dedicated to his drawings titled Frofenia, published by Mundin. We asked Honza Zamojski, a close friend of Knaflewski and fellow Polish artist, to dedicate a text in remembrance of this astounding, infinitely open minded and generous artist.
Four Paragraphs about Leszek Knaflewski (1960-2014)
by Honza Zamojski
I met Leszek Knaflewski in the Audiosphere studio during my first year of studies at the Poznań Academy of Fine Arts. Already then, 10 years ago, you could hear strange stories about the studio: that it was a sect, that the lecturers were orthodox about music, that discipline was rigorous. All this turned out to have been true, albeit in the most unexpected way, for no pedagogue at the Academy passed on knowledge as smoothly as Knaflewski. He taught rather than instructing, bringing out the best in every student and often seeing seemingly impossible projects to fruition. Not because he was a professor, but precisely because he wasn’t one, and never wanted to be. He always stressed that he was an artist, like us, the young students, just a more experienced one, so his role was to help us.
For the last seven years we were neighbours. We lived just a few hundred yards from each other, so after I’d graduated from the Academy we kept bumping into each other. At first those were accidental meetings – in the street, in a shop, at the nearby farmers’ market. We had our favourite bakeries, a butcher’s shop and a cult bar, a few steps from away his home, the last stop for drunk and happy neighbours. With time, our neighbourly meetings became more frequent and no longer incidental, but now pre-planned. Knaf, as he was called, was never late, always on time, with a smile and open arms, always willing to give you a high five or a hug if we hadn’t seen each other for a while. On my way back from work or when I needed some advice, all it took was a single phone call: ‘Can I drop by for tea?’ He never said no.
For Knaf, art was one of the most important things in the world; he breathed art, it gave him strength and freedom. He was always critical of himself and demanding, a perfectionist aware of the value of what he did. As an artist, he had come a long way; quite recently, we jokingly celebrated the thirtieth ‘anniversary of his artistic practice’, for Knaf knew that he still had a lot to say, that he was getting rid of tedious routines and that each successive project would be innovative for him. For Knaflewski, art meant two things: audio and video. He heard art and played it; he saw it and created it. He said those were the two homes he lived in, connected by a garden, and that the garden was where he relaxed.
When we met for the last time, I was going abroad for an exhibition; as always, Knaf was supportive and encouraging. We were to meet again upon my return, for gossip, fine beer and some hearty food at a Czech restaurant. We never did. The news of his death reached me at the German-Polish border and at first I thought it was some kind of a failed performance. Then I thought about how you greet a departing friend. With a firm handshake, in the hope of meeting again. Fare well, dear friend!
Actually, there should be eight paragraphs here, because Knaf was obsessed with the number eight, which he considered lucky. He sought it in events, in random meetings, in art, in the miles covered on a bike, in musical divisions. Perhaps because eight is the closest number to infinity.
Born in 1960, Leszek Knaflewski was an audiovisual artist. His work lies at the borders of visual art and music. He is well-known for his audio-performative activities, by means of which he undertakes a discussion with contemporary culture. The visual elegance of his works is juxtaposed with their critical potential and profound social analysis. With Knaflewski, sound and rhythm constitute an impulse to speak of reality and human existence, the fragmentation of which can be curbed thanks to a fitting tempo. At times, these vibrations build an unseen system of meanings in his works. Leszek Knaflewski was the founder and director of the Audiosphere Studio at the Poznań University of Arts’ Faculty of Multimedia Communication. His works can be found in the collections of a number of institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the Museum of Art in Łódź, the National Museum in Poznań, the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, the Royal Museum of Mariemont in Morlanwelz, Belgium, the Grażyna Kulczyk Collection in Poznań and the Wyspa (Island) Institute of Art in Gdańsk.
Honza Zamojski was born in 1981, he studied philosophy and cultural studies at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, then transferred to the city’s Academy of Fine Arts, receiving his M.A. in Graphic Design and Visual Communication in 2008. He continues to live and work in Poznań. He presents a sharply astute commentary on contemporary culture. His commentary on the world spans genres – sculpture, drawing and art-book publishing. He ran the Morava Publishing house between 2010-2013. NERO published his artist’s book Fishing with John.
Space is the Place 2014 took place Friday, June 20th, on the top floor of a residential building in Basel. The project conceived by Lorenzo Micheli Gigotti and Fabio Marco Pirovino, included drawings by Elisabetta Benassi, Carola Bonfili, Enzo Cucchi, Victor Esther, Katharina Fengler, Sonia Kacem, Tobias Kaspar, Leszek Knalfewski, Emiliano Maggi, Stuart Middleton, Rasmus Høj Mygind, Diego Perrone, Fabio Marco Pirovino, Sam Porritt, Moira Ricci, Megan Rooney, Andrea Salvino, Salvo, Thomas Sauter, Honza Zamojski. During the time of the exhibition everyone could photocopy his own zine using the pieces shown on that occasion. NERO is currently working on a limited edition that will be released by the end of 2014.