Artist in Focus: Hubert Bujak and the depiction of cruelty and suffering
"The brutal expression of some of my paintings is associated with latent human cruelty, the possibility of violence, and also shows the existence of deep pain and immense suffering that is an integral part of human existence.” -Hubert Bujak
Surrealist and expressionist artist, Hubert Bujak, uses symbolic references to highlight the realities of human cruelty. His works are the result of many years of searching for his own style within classical disciplines. Showing strong connections with expressionism and surrealism, Bujak's art gives access and insight into the deeper layers of the mind and perception of reality. In his strictly figurative works, the artist uses simple forms, symbols, archetypes and cultural themes.
Ambiguity creates a wider narrative within Bujak’s works…
Bujak’s surreal depictions allow for audience ambivalence that incites, and sits within, a discussion on the human act of war. Expanding on notions of war and civilisation, Hands recognises humanity as the force that can both instigate and prevent violence. This is portrayed through the content’s ambiguity: are the hands throwing the bomb toward destruction, or are they intercepting the device to prevent it?
Hubert Bujak, Hands (2021), oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm
…while he also references human brutality through truthful references…
Bujak sits his war-based works within the realities of warfare. His painting Unknown Soldier citing the burial site of unidentified soldiers who died during the war. The artist, however, seeks to unearth an alternate meaning under this term: referencing the anonymity and collective action blurs individuality within military training and warfare. The soldier’s face is hidden through the cap and leaves, yet remains the primary focus of the composition. This juxtaposition underscores the brutality of warfare in the context of human existence.
Hubert Bujak, Unknown Soldier, oil on canvas, 130 x 100 cm
…and draws off of his own experience…
Having been raised and, currently, living in Poland, Bujak has experience of military presence in his hometown. From 1945 to 1993, the military formation of the Soviet Army was stationed in Poland - known as The Northern Group of Forces, and regarded by many Poles as the Soviet Occupation force. Watchtower is a reference to this. The works concerns the artist’s childhood experiences as he recalls the military units stationed in nearby forests, congruous with a ban on entering those spaces. The painting builds on Bujak’s memory of occupation, restriction and power.
Hubert Bujak, Watchtower, oil on panel canvas, 24 x 30 cm
Hubert Bujak, born in 1980, studied at the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław (2005-2010). He lives and works in Wrocław.