An extraordinary, ordinary moment in time on canvas
VAIL – Polish oil painter Michal Zaborowski’s piece “The Waiter,” features a lone server standing in the doorway of a quiet cafe, lost in his thoughts, dragging on a cigarette. While it may seem to be a simple, ordinary moment in time, Zaborowski makes it extraordinary on canvas. His paintings invite you to contemplate the beauty and potential surrounding of simple acts in life.
In “Flamenco School,” a young woman comes in from the cold and “with the air of Cinderella,” Zaborowski said, changes her shoes. “When I saw this, it was like a dream. These young women came in out of the cold in their dark, winter clothes. But once they started to change, you could see they were very pretty and elegant. But that was not what was interesting to me,” Zaborowski said. “It was the moment she put on her shoes that I understood what I would be painting. It was that second in time that was important. The atmosphere of preparation and the magic of the anticipation.”
Both “The Waiter” and “Flamenco School” are part of a 38-piece exhibit of Zaborowski’s works, many large-scale, featured at the Vail Fine Art Gallery at Crossroads tonight from 5-9. Zaborowski will be on hand to discuss his life and works. “Among the elite impressionists, which Michal certainly is,” said gallery owner James Tylich, “he pushes the envelope more than most. He is influenced by a piece of time. He paints that moment and a little bit of the subject’s attitude comes across. You join them in their life for a little while – and even if you don’t know it, you feel it.”Zaborowski started painting when he was 6-years-old under the tutelage of his father, also a painter.”I have always wanted to be a painter, not an artist,” said Zaborowski. “You must be a painter first and always, and then from time to time you are fortunate enough to be an artist. Like a pianist, you practice and practice, and then you play a concerto. It is the same with painting. I sketch and paint every day, and then I get my moment to be an artist.”
A graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland, Zaborowski began his career painting murals in churches, even working at the Vatican in 1986 on a scholarship given by the General of the Palatine Order. Since that time, his paintings have made their way into private collections all over the world. This is the first time his work has been on display in Colorado.”Exhibits here are very different than those in Europe,” he said. “I am used to big openings where 200 people are eating and drinking and no one is looking at the pictures. It is not about the art, it is about the event. Here, people are very friendly and open in asking me about my work. Why did I choose a certain color, or where was I when I painted a picture. I enjoy this interaction. I want to shake your hand and talk to you about your experience.”Chances are that Western gallery patrons will experience the same awe and reverence for Zaborowski’s works as he enjoys in so many other parts of the world.”I think people can like my work wherever they are from because the truth is universal and I paint the truth,” he said. “The most important part of viewing pictures is not the moment when you see them for the first time. It is the moment when you want to go back to them again, that means something.”
Zaborowski himself is talking about wanting to go back these days, back to the open spaces of the beautiful state of New Mexico.”My travels here have been fantastic,” he said. “It is the first time I have ever felt such freedom. I am going to try and keep the power of this in my mind. I believe it will change my paintings in the future. There is such incredible color here. Poland is much more grey, and you need grey to present color. But now that I have seen this kind of color, I have a new idea of it. I know I will come back to experience it again.”It is that attitude, the constant search for what is new and sublime in everyday life, that makes Zaborowski’s works so profound. Even though the moment is captured on the canvas, it still feels as if it is fleeting. It is like watching the sunset. You are inspired and cautious all at the same time. You don’t want to take your eyes away for fear you might miss something. Thankfully, Zaborowski’s pictures last longer than the sunset, and it seems that as long as he is alive, there will always be another one. For more information about the free exhibit tonight, contact the Vail Fine Art Gallery at 476-2900.Vail Colorado