Mike Pszczonak


For some time now, I’ve been interested in the simple act of looking. In Charles Beaudelaire’s essay ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ (1863) he describes two characters that embody this act: The Flâneur – an aimless wanderer, people watcher, window shopper, and casual spectator of urban life who remains hidden from the world, and The Dandy – a superficial and leisurely person who puts excessive importance on physical appearance but is not necessarily at the forefront of fashion.

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?” I’ve recently decided to move away from painting my domestic surroundings and instead am opting to look out at the world – to become a sort of Flâneur.

As most people do, I’ve become addicted to aimlessly scrolling through my social media feed, while passively observing the lives and interests of others and the way they present themselves to the world. In my loafing, I’ve been secretly ‘screen-capping’ any images these friends and acquaintances have taken of windows. This has resulted in a collection of images of a wide variety of windows ranging from retail storefronts, hotels, restaurants, and public institutions.

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 a painting where we are simultaneously aware of the image depicted, the flat surface upon which it is painted, and the material of paint itself. Therefore, much like The Dandy, painting carries an ambivalence and ambiguity in the collapsing of space, material, and representation. It is a medium that eludes conventional definition – it is both antiquated yet somehow still fashionable, narcissistic and devoid of self, that can challenge but also yield to trend; a medium that wants to be seen.

-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. He was the winner of the CIBC C2 Create and Curate National Art Prize in 2023, and has received numerous grants and awards such as the Ontario Arts Council’s Emerging Artist Grant and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grant. His artwork is in the collection of Museum London and private collections across North America.

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