conceptual photography documentary photography Poland Wojciech Karliński



// Wojciech is a Polish photographer living in Kielce, Poland. He has been photographing from a very young age. In his personal work, he touches on the meaning of the human condition in urban spaces. Simple and obvious things can be beautiful or poetic. This is clearly visible in his series “Here”, where ordinary places such as train stations and streets in his home country take on an almost mysterious air.

“My adventure with photography started when I was 11 or 12. At that time I got a simple soviet camera, a Smiena 8M. It was magical equipment: you needed to choose one of the symbols: sun, cloud, tree or figure to make a picture. You would never know if you made good photos,” he smiles. “I became seriously interested in photography in the middle of the 1980s, but I published my first photos in the 1990s.” After that Wojciech worked on projects for the biggest publishing house in Poland- SIW ZNAK, producing photos for book covers. He also documented some of the biggest cultural festivals in his country. 

“Now photography is my only source of income, but in my life I also was a boiler smoker, cook, washerman, dental assistant, photo editor and wine seller,” Wojciech adds. 


Wassily Kandinsky

What draws you to art?

“Wassily Kandinsky said that an artist must train not only his eye but also his soul. He means that you need not only see with your eyes, but you also need to see with your soul. You must see and feel everything. It’s like in my photos, you don’t need to see people to know that they are somewhere in the space in the photos. I like Kandinsky a lot. In his work you can find inspiration from nature, and his idea of the ‘real world’ (because he didn’t like to be called an abstract artist) speaks to me. He also said ‘If the artist has outer and inner eyes for nature, nature rewards him by giving him inspiration.’ I believe when you really see a meaning in what is around you, you can tell a story about everything that inspires you. Make true art, tell a story. With meaning, the visual and emotional part  is not just something decorative.”

What do you like best about this photographic project?

“I travel a lot in Poland, and I wanted to tell a story about how people interact with the space around them. I feel like those photos are full of humanity, even you don’t see them.”

The project „Here” is Wojciech’s poetic attempt to arrange unconnected pictures from a Polish province.  The space that surrounds us, at the level of the existing state raises a question: what is around us? The reality of the landscape is obvious to us. We describe buildings, ways to shop, and roads to work. “On the map of our statements we put characteristic buildings, places that we know more or less. That reality is just like us, entwined with ordinary events, communication problems at many levels,” says Wojciech. “It’s also an adaptation of a place to live, spend time in, and finally of being in the moment. All this put us into unnoticed and unseen spaces. It’s familiar enough that we cannot define the status. We don’t know if it’s nice or not. We only know that it’s ours, and we identify with it at some level.”

But, according to Wojciech, spaces are like humans with their many shades of gray, their multiple faces. They are not often like the perfect beauty created by the media. One does not often encounter the great, spectacular landscapes one sees in travelling brochures, the postcard images full of beautiful people. “One thing is undeniable: we coexist and defining each other by the clichés our minds evoke. We are breathing in and out that aesthetic around us, and accept all the ‘pros and cons’.”

Click on the photos to see a larger version.


Please also visit Wojciech´s website and his Instagram page for more of his work.

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