Painter and Photographer, San Francisco
San Francisco painter and photographer Maciej Makalowski was born and raised in Poznan, Poland. Maciej earned dual bachelors degrees in both Political Science and Painting at Penn State University. Last year he finished his MFA in Painting at SFAI (San Francisco Art Insitute).
“My work creates a record of the physical manifestation of hopelessness, apathy, alienation, desire, loss, loneliness, and melancholy created by the conditions of modern life. My work does not offer solutions to predicaments, but illustrates and exposes them. Even though this view of life is bleak, within my work, there are always various elements of irony and humor. The formal aspects are as important to me as the subject matter. Through the inherent quality of the medium, I convey these fragile emotional states.”
What force most clearly inspires your work?
In one word: disillusion. Haha. I think things are pretty dismal right now, whether politically or socially or culturally or environmentally or even personally. I would not call my work political, but I do think that it is commentary on the way I see the world. Of course, this is all done in a fun, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek way that tends to poke fun.
How do you usually choose as a subject or muse?
Well, it’s all very different. Almost all of my recent paintings have been based on film stills. I try to find scenes from films that are less recognizable, mainly documentaries; I don’t like using images of famous actors. Then I try to create a new context for the images, creating new meanings. My photos are more about beauty or sexuality, even if it is often with a touch of darkness or creepiness. My films have a wider range of subjects since I am just getting into making them. But they all in some way deal with nostalgia.
What is your favorite thing about the space?
Well my studio is in a basement, a kind of dark, scary place. It used to be a meth lab actually.
I share it with four very close friends. I think the biggest pros of the space are that I get to share it with with friends who are all really good artists and in general good people to be around, that it is really cheap to rent, and that it is located within walking distance to my apartment.
What are your tattoos of?
I have about nine tattoos. They range in subject matter, but most of them have depictions of animals.
I hear you funded a new book on Kickstarter?
Yeah, I had a Kickstarter to raise money for a book of Polaroid photos. The fundraising period is over actually, and I was successful raising about three times my goal, so that is great news. The book, Occult Beauty, is for sale on my website and WireandNail.com.
who are some of your artistic heroes in general?
At the moment, Captain Picard and maybe Conan the Barbarian. Oh, and Lita Ford.
Just kidding. Artistically I’ve always loved Francis Bacon. Some other artists that inspire me are Alex Katz, Elizabeth Payton, Marcel Dzama, André Etheir, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Lucien Freud, Terry Richardson, Ryan McGinley, George Kuchar, David Park, the list could go on. But I’m also really interested in cult leaders, such as Charles Manson, Father Yod, David Koresh, Jim Jones, and so on.
How do you say your name phonetically?
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Poznan, Poland. At age seven I moved to Montréal, Canada. Then at nine I moved to the suburbs of Washington DC and at sixteen I moved to State College, PA where I finished high school and then attended Penn State University there. After college I moved to Long Beach, CA and then at twenty-four I moved to San Francisco to attend grad school at the San Francisco Art Institute.
What’s the story with the band you’re in?
I am in a three piece experimental noise rock group called Nazi Botany. We play instrumental, improvised songs, usually one fifteen minute song per concert. We’ve been playing for maybe over a year now, it’s been a lot of fun.
Do you have any supernatural or other powers?
Well, I am really good at sleeping. If no one wakes me up or I have no reason to get up I can easily sleep for thirteen hours straight. This isn’t a very good power, actually it’s kind of terrible.
Here is an experimental short film made by Maciej called Amor Fati, a latin phrase meaning “love of fate.”