Filip Wolak “Winter From Above”


Filip Wolak „Winter From Above””


exhibition opening: 11.01.2019 (Friday), 6 PM


When looking at Filip Wolak’s photographs, we immediately notice their extraordinary aesthetic beauty. We do not think about them as representatives of a certain photographic tendency (documentary or pictorial), but we succumb to their appealing visual side, where the outlines of real objects (urban or infrastructural and nature) are shifted into area of reflective abstract vision. Similarly, we do not think about the technique of their realisation. The uniqueness of these relatively large-format photographs consists in balancing the graphic-pictorial and documentary (verismo) layers, which is why it combines the real, present at the beginning, dimension with the creative one. Moving on the borderline of these areas, the photographer creates a new quality, a new language of presentation – often with the amazing special effects of three-dimensional illusion and the charming noble character of painting. Reality somehow directly gains the rank of art, because the artist finds there structures and motifs which values are ​​worthy of representing them by the medium of artefact. Thus, he enriches it with new values ​​and leads it to the world of tempting imaginary projections. Though, this has nothing to do with the ubiquitous commercial market-consumer aesthetics, and its blatant erotic charge.

We shall remember about the protoplasts of the aeropainting, with their aeropittura manifesto announced in 1929 by Italian futurists. However, they were interested in the issue of variability and changing of perspectives experienced during the flight by plane.      

When watching the frames created by Wolak, we are able to gradually uncover their compositional layers, comprised of the aspects of human being active presence, being the result of his participation in the shaping of landscape. Because, step-by-step, we find there the reflection and the traces of his interference. What is peculiar is that we perceive the whole as the intended in advance, subjected to aesthetic laws, creative design. The acts of human presence are here overlapping the original, divine design of nature. It is amazing how distant shapes of objects resemble computer integrated circuits, enigmatic machines or devices. Sometimes attempts to identify representations of a photographic image turn out to be void, we can only see real landscapes transformed into unidentifiable stripes, fields and figures. Other times, we are touched by the graphic beauty of leafless trees outlines and bird silhouettes in the picturesque winter scenery.

The refined and subtle study of urban reality and natural environment is carried out by the author during the flight by Cessna plane around the New York area. It requires courage, but it results in novelty that is developed with earlier conceptual assumptions and, to the same extent, dependant on the spontaneous reaction to the contemplated in a blink of an eye landscape. Noticing and recognising the exciting moment of compositional arrangement is the starting point for photography, which shows its readiness and complete visual distinctiveness, in terms of the content as well as the exquisite pictorial form. The photographer achieves and implements the idea of instant capturing of momentary view of the world, which was the core of impressionistic longings.

This is a continuation of the mythological story of Daedalus’ winged courage, an architect who at this time is furnished with magical equipment that captures images – a camera.

Wolak’s spatial turn discovers the environment, at the same time human one and the entire planet, from a different aerial perspective that reveals the symbiosis of these factors. However, when it comes to the convergent painting perspective, it is absent. There is no focal point in these photographs. Their entire surface is homogenous and uniform, hence each element has the same meaning and weight, remaining placed on a plane with balanced directional and colour tensions.      

The striving for abstraction landscape has the form of – very refined, rich in shades – one (monochromatic) dominant, its figures are records of the subjecting power of geometry principles. There are also images with mild colour contrasts that stand beyond such a synchronizing type. But there is always a special dimension of real life that is clear, present, mysterious, and gradually discovered during reception. It makes the perception – parallel to the creation – a revealing and challenging journey through the horizons spreading out in front of our eyes.      

The extent, to which Wolak’s photographs are structurally pronounced with lyrical poetic metaphorisation of the motif ennobled by a pictorial charm, fills one with admiration. Thanks to the artist, we can see and realise that we live on a rational and beautiful planet. Human activity and nature, from this perspective, do not have a mutually aggressive and contrasting relationship, their shapes permeate in the delightful unity that is serving life, also in aesthetic dimensions. There is wisdom about ability to conduct a compatible dialogue instead of a ruinous combat. And then truth is not going to be lost, the truth that enables us to experience; good and beauty item.          

(Piotr Głowacki, Discovering the planet)


Filip Wolak is a photographer, pilot, and flight instructor. He began his flight training in 2005, at first for the pure joy of challenge. After a few years, Filip completed his training and received airline pilot privileges. His experience in photography and piloting allows him to merge these passions to create unique photographs of the world, as seen from above. His photograph “Central Park from 10,000 Feet” has won the prestigious Sony World Photography Award in the Open Architecture category in 2016. He has also received PX3: Prix de la Photographie Paris (2017) and International Photography Awards (2018).

Filip currently works as a professional photographer in New York City, specializing in various areas of commercial photography. He cooperates with The Met, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art among others. Filip was named Most Influential by “Lens Magazine”, and Coolest Nightlife Photographer by “Time Out New York”.