Przemek Pyszczek’s Soviet Inspired Sculptures

by Lindsay Cooper

Found in Berlin’s Schöneweide region, sculptor Przemek Pyszczek’s studio is a long way from home. Born in Poland, the artist spent most of his childhood in the relatively foreign cultural landscape of Winnipeg after his family relocated when Pyszczek was just two and a half. Despite having spent most of his life in Canada, Pyszczek and his family, who exclusively spoke Polish at home, remained firmly rooted their motherland’s culture.

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“Peres Projects”. Playground 2015, Sculpture – Lacquered steel

Drawn to his home country’s kitschy charm, Pyszczek made the rare visit to Poland, where he found his future muses in Soviet-era artifacts. With a background in architecture, his artistic obsession began with his photography of Wielka Płyta, Poland’s solution to the immediate need for post-war housing. Literally translating to “large panels”, wielka płyta refers to the quickly constructed high-rise apartment complexes built in post-war Poland, due to both the massive population increases and the razings Poland had undergone during World War II. As a result of their hasty fabrication, Poland’s high-rises have since undergone renovations to mend both architectural and aesthetic issues.

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“Peres Projects”. Playground 2015, Sculpture – Lacquered steel

These renovations, which often saw the complexes exhibiting large scale graphic paintjobs on their facades, lit a fire of inspiration in Pyszczek. In an interesting turn of events, Polish artisans had turned these immense housing blocks, erected to serve the growing masses, into beacons of individuality, personalization, and artistry during restoration.

Pyszczek identified with this after having grown up with Canada’s brand-dominated, one-size-fits-all approach to post-war suburban housing. Unlike Canada’s standardized production model, Poland’s Soviet past has encouraged an appreciation for the local artisan, resulting in the one-of-a-kind window bars and playground structures featured in Pyszczek’s art.

Now in his atelier in East Berlin, Pyszczek has expanded from photography to sculpture. Ordering pastel- and primary-colour window coverings and playground structures from Polish craftsmen, he reworks the post-war inspired architecture to reflect the (often unseen) creative communities that thrived in his new home beyond the iron curtain.

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“Peres Projects”. Playground 2015, Sculpture – Lacquered steel