artist J. Kotkowski

Ham & High
Hampstead & Highgate news
16th January 2004

Men and Women in Landscape
by Alison Oldham

Together Again
by Jan Kotkowski

The crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields church, with its exposed brickwork and arches, makes a sympathetic setting for Jan Kotkowski's paintings and drawings. He is a Crouch End artist who is passionate not only about his own work but that of other painters. So the show reflects his influences, such as Klimt and Schiele for the nudes. My preference is for his landscapes, especially Winter Landscape, a study based on a painting by a favourite Austrian painter.


The key works of this exhibition for the artist are those depicting men, women and animals within a landscape. In his 1998 painting Badlands there is a snake around the Macbeth figure representing his conscience - it's eating away at his mind. In the more recent Together Again, Adam and Eve are presented in reverse of their usual roles, with the man handling the snake. Two marvellous birds, the dove of peace and a predatory eagle, preside over the scene.

Jan Kotkowski trained at St Martin's (the art college not the church) and at that time the Abstract Expressionists were his main interest.

He says he still uses their methods - painting directly onto the canvas without drawing - but that the attractions of the visual world have turned him towards figurative painting.

The best of his new landscapes is A Short Walk from St Ives, painted in London from sketches and memories of a trip last May to the cliffs on the path to Zennor.


The Godrevy lighthouse, beloved of Virginia Woolf, and the cross of the chapel on the island are pinpoints of white standing out against the dark blue of the sky at night. I didn't recognise the location of this painting because I think of the sea there as shades of jade and his is bluer. This is a personal thing - the St Ives marine painter Alfred Wallis saw sea water as near transparent, as it is when in a bottle.

In a similar vein, I'd like Kotkowski's pictures to have the treatment that art historian Edwin Mullins advocated for Wallis's - let them speak for themselves.

Until Saturday in St Martin's Gallery, Trafalgar Square.

click here to email the artist


Related Web-Links

Central St Martins School of Art
London England

Central St Martins Alumni bulletin
January 2004
featuring a listing of this exhibition under the heading "External Exhibitions"

Further Updates

The artist is preparing for his next solo exhibition (to be announced in due course on this site) which will feature his recent work from galleries 9 to 17.