Buckled Up (2022) is the title of the large-scale canvas by Polish artist Krzysztof Grzybacz. At the center of the scene appears the lost and slightly disconsolate muzzle of a dog sitting on a scrub with his belt obviously fastened. This small hint is enough to suggest a disruptive personification of the observer with the animal: by mixing different narrative levels and everyday elements that we recognize as familiar, Grzybacz manages to create ironic and at the same time melancholic atmospheres. “I like to imagine that the usual situations I see everyday are part of something bigger” says the artist himself, inscribing his canvases in a narrative succession that could be the basis of a screenplay for a Wes Anderson movie. No one would be surprised if, in the middle of observing the canvas, the dog began to speak to us with a mysterious and confident voice to explain how the rate of toxins in the air of European cities is constantly increasing every day, but despite this we continue to fetch the bread at the baker around the corner by car.

The spatial and imaginary glimpse that the Polish artist manages to construct in the canvas is possible thanks to a skilful and elaborate technique: the acid tones, mirror of today’s society immersed in smog and industrialization, are stretched, as if dilated, generating a suspended atmosphere. On a technical level, Krzysztof Grzybacz prefers a painting by subtraction in which he tries to distribute the least amount of color possible on the canvas, even intervening with sponges to further fade the tones: a veiled vision is born, as if immersed in some gas. With this action the daily image is further abstracted, characterizing itself with a dreamlike aura: in these invisible brushstrokes our gaze gets lost and can almost recognize itself with the gaze of the dog.

Grzybacz also combining shadow with bright areas, an aspect that unites his pictorial visions with cinematographic imagery. He restores to the observer a feeling always poised between a smile for the absurdity of the scene and the fear of what which is only hinted at and almost hidden. Who sits next to the dog in the shaded seat? Being tied up is for security or for control? Grzybacz’s magical and surreal painting manages to generate a potentially infinite string of questions and assumptions: Buckled up inscribes the observer in the possibility of becoming the narrator of a film noir, thus giving vent to personal narrative skills.


Krzysztof Grzybacz
Buckled up, 2022
180 x 130 cm, oil on canvas, Grzybacz, 2022
Photo: Danilo Donzelli © Courtesy the artist