Pleasing aesthetics combined with heavy subject matter made its way to Keene State College’s campus this week in the form of artist Viktor Witkowski’s exhibit “Our Histories, Near and Far” located in KSC’s Carroll House Gallery. “Our Histories, Near and Far” had its official exhibit opening on Friday, January 22. The exhibit was organized by Dr. Martin R. Sullivan of Keene State College’s Art Department.
Assistant Professor of Modern Contemporary Art History Marin Sullivan explained the motivation for welcoming Witkowski’s work to campus. “I wanted to do something that would engage both the Cohen Center and art,” Sullivan said.
“I thought, ‘Oh, this would be something that we could collaborate on,’ because Viktor’s work really does engage in issues of war and trauma and history and the representation of those things. Some of his new work is looking a little bit more at contemporary current events,” Sullivan continued, “A lot of some of the older work he has in the show is kind of about what it was like growing up in Poland and the legacy of World War II.”
According to Witkowski’s professional website, viktorwitkowski.com, “Born in Poland, Viktor Witkowski lived in Germany, France and the U.S. before moving to Vermont where he teaches and makes art, and writes on Same Old Art. Viktor earned a Master’s Degree in Art Education, Art History and Studio Art from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig (HBK Braunschweig, Germany) in 2006 and a MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University in 2010.”
“This is my first big show in terms of a solo show here in New England and in general,” Witkowski described of his exhibit at Keene State College.
“Some of the works I have never seen together. It’s really interesting for me too to see them, and it has certainly a different effect on me to be able to kind of look back and see comparisons and similarities,” Witkowski continued, “A lot of them [paintings] are from 2015. A vast majority are fairly recent.”
“I think as a painter you set certain colors for yourself and you figure out why you like them and how you want to use them and you also try to mix them always a little bit differently,” Witkowski explained of his use of vibrant colors in his paintings.
“There’s this idea of kind of creating seduction – like a visual seduction in a way – to draw people in, because I think if I would just announce what these are about it would not really engage people,” Witkowski said.
“There’s something banal about anything we call evil because it often turns out that there is no such thing as this absolute evil. It masks itself as other things and that’s why it can be so successful because it takes some time for us to get through it and understand it. So, in a way, I kind of use that or play with that. It’s not really trying to render it harmless,” Witkowski said, “It really is about us slowing down and paying attention to something that otherwise we wouldn’t pay attention to.”
KSC senior Shawn Murray and KSC junior Lindsey Bedard accompanied art student and KSC sophomore Avery Black to the exhibit opening. Although, as an art student, attendance was required for Black, all three students expressed their willingness to attend these types of events. “We enjoy coming as well. It’s always pretty interesting,” Murray said.
“I really like that the university goes out of their way to put these things on,” Bedard said, “I feel really enriched as a student; It’s really amazing. It gets me involved in the community and it makes me really appreciate the Arts.”
“Our Histories, Near and Far” is free and open to the public and will be running until Saturday, February 20, in the Carroll House Gallery.
Caroline Alm can be contacted at email@example.com