Open menu Open menu hover pink Close menu Close menu hover pink
O Magazine

Weekly GIF
The History of Art
as playground

By Déborah García

Kiszkiloszki’s work is placed among the content creation flow embraced by social networks, such as the micro-stories filling Tumblr or Vine. He has found in GIFs the ideal format with which to tell his eccentric tales. This young Pole can create short stories, full of humour, around Hopper or Goya’s paintings. And he must be doing something right because he has more than thirty seven thousand people following him and eagerly awaiting each new update of his networks. He has created new stories for legendary paintings such as Saturn Devouring His Son or Edward Hopper’s Sunday Morning. Kiszkiloszki dyes his scenes with blood: Saturn throws his son’s torn apart arms on a park, and Hopper’s painting is stained because a bird has crashed against it. 

The language that Kiszkiloszki uses in his GIFs is the emerging one in the current context, a context in which technology has eliminated the traditional barriers to create and access content, and which offers many possibilities when it comes to length and format. The dialogue that Kiszkiloszki establishes with art is like a game based on imitation, remixing and repetition. A game that ends up demystifying the work, taking it out of the museum and granting it the possibility of, apart from amazing us, making us laugh.

I talked to him about what he does and this is what he told me. 

Tell me about you.

Hello. My name is Kajetan Obarski. I do stuff, mainly animation, music, writing and photography. I’m a Polish immigrant in friendly Eastern Europe. Capitalism loves me; I work in factories for little wages. I have no money because I’ve never been to school, and I never went to school because I never had any money. Reality is an ugly thing, that’s why I’ve decided to create beautiful things.

Now tell me about your working method.

This is something you interviewers seem to be very interested in. I wonder why everybody asks me the same question: don’t you find it boring? It takes me a while, usually a few hours of animation, other times a bit more. I like telling stories; I do it happily. First I get the idea, then I cut the fragments, I animate them and that’s it! The GIF is ready.

I found your animations in Tumblr, what do you think about being an artist in the digital age and about taking advantage of technology to present your work?

To be honest with you, I don’t know why people call me an artist. I mean, I understand why, but hell! People use this word far too much. I do stuff. To be even more honest with you, I’ll confess that my knowledge on animation is quite poor. You can call me an artist, but I will never feel like one. You can be sure of that.

Is there any other way of presenting GIFs? I don’t think so. The Internet is not a bad place to present whatever you have created. If you’re good, remember to include your brand, or your signature. If you’re better than good, people will take off your signature from any memes and rip-offs. They do. It must mean I’m a genius! 

Why have you chosen the GIF format to present your animations? Do you prefer it to other formats for any given reason?

First of all, I don’t like GIFs. However, I like short and light formats, and that is why I’ve decided to save my work in GIF format. A three-second video is not the best concept in the world… The truth is I don’t know. Ask a singer why he sings.

Your work always seems to hide an ironic and playful vision. Is irony something you want to transmit? I mean, you work with images, but there’s always a title that lends your creations a powerful new look over the painting you have used, and, consequently, over art.

Our existence is ironic. Do I want to transmit this with my animations? Maybe. I mean, almost everything I do is in such a deep dialogue with irony that to me it ceases to be ironic. Not long ago, someone asked me about my black sense of humour (the black humour in my creations). To them there’s more humour; to me there’s more black. I’m not a jokester; in fact, I’m quite Deadly serious. 

People, including myself, call you an artist, and we’re probably wrong, because the way you work and create can only take place on the Internet, with all those poor images; pixels are poor.

Knowing what ‘artist’ means, if there were only artists and common people in the world, then I would be an artist. I’m not sure you understand what I mean. I know I do things that are close to art, but still I can’t call myself an artist. It’s not modesty; it’s just that I see myself more like a critic of reality; to me, being an artist means a lot more than what I do.

You take a Goya painting, for instance, and from it you create a new story. It’s a process of rejuvenation, of resurrection of art. Your work, ‘your things’, as you call them, are included in that context of processes derived from spare time in front of the computer, of the kind ‘what do I do with all this time? I want to work, but work is either shitty or it doesn’t exist.’ You create, with your limited skills, things that fascinate lots of people around the world, and that’s something very powerful, and also generous, I think, although the reason for which you do what you do might have nothing to do with the reason you started to animate paintings.

Yes, I know, I give a new look to the paintings I animate, and tell stories when I animate all those famous paintings. Stories that are somewhat extravagant, and I realise that they mean something to a lot of people, more than mere animated paintings. I agree, but let me tell you that people have gone a bit beyond the pale. They write to me everyday telling me they love my work, and me, and that I’m an eccentric genius. And of course it’s nice reading all this, but to me, the stories I tell through my GIFs are completely simple and normal, nothing special. My brain has always worked like this. I don’t see things any other way. It’s the way my mind works. Everyday. Everywhere.