New York, NY -- The Curator Gallery is excited to present Above & Beyond: Photographs by Kacper Kowalski, curated by Bill Shapiro. The exhibition is the Polish photographer’s first solo show in the United States and runs from April 22 to May 30.
Kowalski, who has shown his work in Europe and Asia, has earned numerous accolades for his sustained focus on the complicated relationship between mankind and its environment. In February, he was honored with his third prestigious World Press Photo award (for Best Long Term Project) and in March, his book, Side Effects, was named as a Finalist in the Picture of the Year International competition.
Trained as an architect, Kowalski walked away from that career to pursue his twin passions: photography and flying. In Above & Beyond, Kowalski uses these talents to explore the ideal environment: Is it untouched, virgin land or a landscape that has been altered and adapted to suit our needs? His aerial photographs, taken from a self-piloted paraglider or gyrocopter, are stunning in their own right, but lead to meaningful questions: What makes something beautiful? Is it bold colors? Perfect shapes? Rhythmic patterns? But what if those soothing patterns are the result of industrial mining? What if those rich colors are caused by chemical runoff? Can they still be beautiful?
With an architect’s exacting eye for composition, structure and symmetry, Kowalski turns everyday locations into magical, ethereal visions. His photographs, which often appear abstract and without contextual clues, are frequently labeled with latitudes and longitudes representing the exact coordinates where the picture was made, rather than traditional titles or captions. “I want to give the viewer a pure visual impression, free of context. This is what it’s like for me when I’m flying,” he says. “In the air, I only have my instruments; there are no captions on the ground to help me make sense of what I’m looking at. My photographs -- like the land I see from 1,500 feet up -- should be open to your interpretation.”
In his recent large-scale works - Beach #9 and Beach 1102 -- Kowalski takes the concept of untouched versus altered a step further. To make these pictures, he flies over the same beaches dozens of times and then digitally “weaves” together tens of thousands of photos to create a single intricate image that gathers all of this visual information to recreate not what he saw as he glided overhead, but what he felt -- his impressions and memories.
Kowalski’s visionary framing of his images begins to render the distinction between the manmade and the natural less relevant, instead offering something that is both of this world and otherworldly.
The artist would like to thank the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, City of Gdynia and The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York for their support and partnership.
Bill Shapiro served as the Editor-in-Chief of LIFE, the celebrated photo magazine and, later, as the founding editor of the award-winning web site LIFE.com. Last fall, he co-authored the children’s book Gus & Me with Keith Richards, the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist. He is currently the Director of Editorial & New Business Enterprises at Fast Company.
The Curator Gallery is a fine art gallery in Chelsea that collaborates with notable guest curators for each exhibition. Founded and underwritten by Ann S. Moore, the retired Chairman and CEO of Time Inc., the gallery’s mission is to bring exposure to hardworking artists, as well as to educate and expand the pool of engaged, serious collectors.
For more information, please contact Kris Connell at The Curator Gallery, firstname.lastname@example.org