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At a very young age, Tomasz Machciński built an identity around an autograph, addressed to him by an actress he believed to be his mother. From this confusion, which lasted more than twenty years, a protean and personal mythology was born that reconstructs the artist. As the image of the Ovidian myth, or Gregor Samsa, Tomasz Machciński cannot be described. Indeed, his work consists of over 22 000 self-portraits of as many different physiognomies. Exhibited in 2019 at the Rencontres de la Photographie, his works are already part of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and the Museum of Photography in Krakow (Poland) as well as the collection abcd/Bruno Decharme.

Tomasz Machcinski - © christian berst — art brut
Date 1942 —
Country Poland

Tomasz Machciński, born 1942 in Poland, is a self-taught photographer and performer. As a war orphan, he received an autograph card from the Hollywood star actress Joan Tompkins with the words “With Love to ‘Tommy’ From ‘Mother’ Joan” as a part of a so-called remote adoption programme. For the first twenty years of his life, he was therefore convinced that Tompkins was his mother. The end of his “American Dream” and the loss of this supposed identity influenced Machciński’s artistic work.

To date, his oeuvre consists of more than 22,000 fictitious or appropriated identities, captured in both photographic and film selfportraits. In his staging, the artist nonchalantly embodies stars of the silver screen, icons of pop culture, figures from history, literature and politics, and other eccentric characters. His work depicts a variety of characters of different ethnic, sexual or social affiliations.

At the same time, these characters are also reinventions of his own identity. “Instead of wigs or tricks, I show everything that happens to my body, such as: hair regrowth, tooth loss, diseases, aging processes, etc.” By alternately revealing and hiding the weaknesses of his body, he lends it new meaning. In his work, Machciński serves as director and actor, make-up and costume designer, archivist, photographer and performance artist all at the same time. On the one hand his artistic practice is related to the European Art History through the play with the traditional methods of portraying and its conventions. Though on the other hand it goes along with the strategy of conceptual photography which uses the self-image as a vehicle to negotiate different meanings, present also in works of Cindy Sherman or Luigi Ontani. His photos as well as videos are performances made directly to the camera.

Tomasz Machciński is already established as a leading figure in brut photography, like Miroslav Tichy, Lee Godie, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, who have only recently been recognized by the institutional art world.

In the year following the establishment, in 2018, of the Tomasz Machciński Foundation, his films were screened at the Whitechapel Gallery (London); that same year he participated in the Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles) in the exhibition PHOTO l BRUT, collection Bruno Decharme & compagnie. In 2020, he is exhibited at the American folk art museum of New York, and finally a great retrospective exhibition will be dedicated to him by the Manggha (Krakow) from May to September 2021.

Artworks
Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 2011
14.96 x 11.42 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 2010
11.81 x 14.96 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 2000
3.54 x 4.33 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 1994
3.94 x 2.76 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 2000
3.15 x 4.72 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 1994
3.54 x 2.76 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 1994
6.69 x 8.66 in
Exhibitions
Paris Photo
2021, Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris. From November 11 to 14, 2021.
Monster
curated by Nancy Huston. From September 11 to October 10, 2021.
POCORART
World Exhibition, 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo. From July 16 to September 5, 2021.
Thousands of Faces
Hundreds of Mirages, Manggha, Cracovie. From May 28 to September 5, 2021.
Photo Brut
Coll. Bruno Decharme & cie, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From January 24 to June 6, 2021.
View more
tomasz machciński
with love to tommy, delmes & zander gallery, Cologne. From September 4 to October 24, 2020.
the theft and the destruction
curator : michal lukaszuk, arsenal gallery, pologne. From February 21 to April 9, 2020.
artists’film international part IV
tomasz machcinski, my songs 2011-2016, bonniers konsthall, stockholm, suède. From November 5 to 7, 2019.
artist’s film international
whitechapel gallery, londres. From October 1 to November 24, 2019.
tomasz machciński & type 42 (anonymous)
with love to tommy, fondation tomasz machciński, pologne. From September 20 to 29, 2019.
artists’ film international
gender, kunstforum, tormso, Norvège. From September 1 to 30, 2019.
Photo Brut
coll. Bruno Decharme & cie, Rencontre d'Arles. From July 1 to September 22, 2019.
will there be war tomorrow?
musée d’art moderne de varsovie, pologne. From July 4 to 7, 2018.
święci zawszańcy
tomasz machciński, square adam mickiewicz, poznan, pologne. From July 17 to 25, 2017.
i’m no longer a dog
curators : zofia czartoryska et katarzyna karwańska, Muzeum śląskie, Katowice, Pologne. From April 1 to September 10, 2017.
the thousand faces
école nationale de cinéma, lodz, pologne. From March 3 to May 28, 2017.
tomasz machciński
but in color, galerie sztuki im. jana tarasina, pologne. From September 3 to December 3, 2016.
why we have wars?
the art of modern-day outsiders, musée d’art moderne, varsovie. From February 19 to May 1, 2016.
the thousand faces
galerie tak, poznan, pologne. From January 1 to March 25, 2016.
exhibition view *Why We Have Wars? The Art of Modern-day Outsiders*, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland, 2016 - © christian berst — art brut
exhibition view *tomasz machciński & type 42 (anonymous). with love to tommy*, tomasz machciński foundation, Warsaw, Poland, 2019 - © christian berst — art brut
exhibition view of *nie jestem jus psem*, curators : zofia czartoryska and katarzyna karwańska, muzeum śląskie, katowice, 2017 - © christian berst — art brut
Press review
Galerie Christian Berst Art Brut : Tomasz Machcinski
La Rédaction, L’œil De La Photographie. May 11, 2021.
le télétex du 30 avril
La Rédaction, L’hebdo Du Quotidien De L’art. April 30, 2021.
Fantastic Fixation in ‘Photo Brut’
J. Hoberman, The New York Review. April 25, 2021.
Photo brut, collection Bruno Decharme & compagnie
Lyle Rexer, The Brooklynrail. February 5, 2021.
Photography in the Raw
Roberta Smith, The New York Times. February 4, 2021.
View more
Arles 6 : Photographie brute, vers un peu de cohérence
Marc Lenot, Amateur D’art, Par Lunettes Rouges. September 4, 2019.
Artpress à Arles. épisode 3
Charles-Arthur Boyer, Artpress. July 18, 2019.
Arles 2019, le meilleur des expositions des Rencontres de la Photographie
Bruno Dubreuil, Viens Voir. July 18, 2019.
“Photo Brut” de décalages
Clémentine Mercier, Libération. July 5, 2019.
à Arles, la photographie s’entiche d’art brut
Emmanuelle Lequeux, Le Monde. June 12, 2019.
Collections
Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Poland
Museum of Photography in Krakow
Poland
abcd / Bruno Decharme collection
France
Tomasz Machcinski

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