Mike Pszczonak


My last body of work aimed to describe the reflected light on the surface of a window in my home. I was trying to answer my then toddler’s innocent question: ‘what colour is the window?’ For fear of appearing too wholesome I’ve recently decided to move away from painting my domestic surroundings and instead am opting to look out at the world. As most people do, I’ve become addicted to aimlessly scrolling through my social media feed, passively observing the lives and interests of others while secretly ‘screen-capping’ any images these friends, family, and acquaintances have taken of windows. This has resulted in a large collection of images of windows ranging from storefronts, hotels, restaurants, and public institutions.

For some time now I’ve been interested in the simple act of looking. In his essay ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ (1863), Charles Beaudelaire describes two figures of 19th Century Modernity that embody this act. One is the Flâneur – an aimless wanderer, people watcher, window shopper, and casual spectator of life who necessarily remains unnoticed by the world.

The other a Dandy – a superficial and leisurely person who puts excessive importance on physical appearance but is not necessarily at the forefront of fashion. In his essay ‘Dark-Side Minimalism’ (2012), Jan Tumlir expands on the superficial qualities of the Dandy and notes their ambiguities by stating “to some, the dandy is a sharp dresser, to others, archly out of fashion; to some, the dandy is narcissistic, to others, devoid of self; to some, the dandy is challenging the status quo, to others, capitulating. At the end of the day, something does get made—a work, a look, the self as object.”

The reflection on a window creates a perceptual phenomenon where we are at once aware of the depth beyond the window, the space in front of the window, and the surface of the window itself. A similar perceptual shift occurs in Painting where we are always simultaneously aware of the image depicted, the flat surface upon which it is painted, and the material of paint itself. Therefore, there is an analogy to be made between the window, the Painting, and the Dandy where each caries an ambiguity in the collapsing of space, material, and representation that can be perceived one way or another. Painting is a media that eludes conventional definition, is both antiquated yet somehow still fashionable, narcissistic but devoid of self, and that can challenge but also yield to trend. Painting is at once a material, an image, a work, a look, and a self as object.

In short, these works propose the painter as Flâneur and the Painting as Dandy.

-Mike Pszczonak, artist statement for “No Thanks, I’m Just Looking” series

Mike Pszczonak received his MFA from Western University and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph. He currently teaches within the Fine Art Program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. In 2023, Pszczonak was awarded the highly competitive CIBC C2 Create and Curate National Visual Arts Prize, with the resulting solo exhibition on view in CIBC’s new headquarters in Toronto at CIBC Square. Additionally, he has been awarded the Ontario Arts Council’s Emerging Artist Grant, and his work can be found in the CIBC collection, Museum London, and private collections across North America.

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