Tomasz Vetulani

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Tomasz Jerzy Vetulani (born 21 December 1965) is a Polish painter, drawer and sculptor active in Utrecht.


  • I am absolutely for the possibility of a happy relationship between adult people, regardless of their gender, and I think that they cannot be denied the right to live worthily. I am also in favor of equal treatment of married couples and couples living in concubinage. I did not marry myself. In Poland, the wedding is considered to be a sanctity, while in fact it has primarily legal consequences: it guarantees the right to inheritance, to adoption, to the visit in a hospital in the most dramatic moments. The husband who is an alcoholic addict and abuses his wife can can accompany her to the hospital in an ambulance, while the cohabitant with a loved and loving partner cannot. In the Netherlands, spouses and cohabitants have similar rights.
  • I have a need to create works that are not just shocking, or say: striking, smashing – but also such works that can become companions of my various life events, and become companions of other people in their situations. These are the works that I create from the deep need to communicate with my sense and my ideal of beauty.
  • I have been working with silicone for years. While still studying, I painted on unusual materials, for example on a soft felt. I like material that easily surrenders – you can tame them and "go out" to the third dimension, and at the same time sanctify something that is considered ordinary. Once, I painted on sponges over twenty centimeters long, which create a great illusion of sandstone.
  • I like working on sponge because it's a simple, light material and always ready to use. The colour and texture meet my aesthetic requirements and it has a lolof volume and physically, is very present in the space. The ink or paint is immediately absorbed into the foam surface, making any corrections almost impossible. It is a material which lends itself to quick, fast application and is particularly good for spontaneous sketching with paint squeezed directly from the tube. The fact that these works will not last (sponge is not a very durable material) does not deter me; it suits the character of the work very well and to an extent reflects my ideas about art.
    • At the time of writing exhibition catalogue, the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, 1998.
  • I love what I've learned from my parents, and what I continue here – wandering, Sunday trips out of town, mindfulness with which you can look at plants and animals. I am not interested in that professionally and I have no ambition to classify flora and fauna, but I am enthusiastic about amateur love for nature. Light, air, clouds, landscapes only seem harsh. A lot of beauty can be found in this rawness.
  • I really like painting on unusual base, such as zinc plates, which are already subjected to rain. These are old plates, spoiled by time and weather. I paint very subtle paintings on such a ground. On the other hand, paintings on a sponge, which may seem harsh in terms of subject matter – are, contrary to appearances, very soft and pleasant. It is nice, for example, to move them and hang them.
  • I was recognizable in Kraków because of my family. I felt it as a burden. I tried to cut myself off from the past and build something myself. Become independent.
  • In Low Countries a person meets indifference, which is the consequence of the assumption that everyone is responsible for their fate. Everyone keeps their own views, but there is no attempt to impose them on others.
  • In Poland, many doctors would not undertake euthanasia due to religious beliefs. The Dutch are more pragmatic, and death is not a great taboo for them, but part of the natural turn of things.
  • With art, it is like with the languages that people use: each opens up other possibilities, other layers of sensitivity and expression.
  • What fascinates me is the fear of terrorism in Poland while people die everyday on the roads – and on an annual scale there are thousands of people who lose their lives in a very stupid way.
  • Years ago I heard such a nice saying that the soul travels at the speed of horseback riding. At the moment, of course, nobody travels on a horse, but it seems to me that I am always somewhere in the middle of my travels between Poland and the Netherlands. As soon as I reach one destination, my soul still has not left the other place for good, and then back again – everything is mixed up. Of course, I'm formed in Kraków. For me, Kraków is the source of all inspiration. But my home, my family is in Utrecht.

On Vetulani's art[edit]

  • He deliberately rejects the classic beauty of the form for the sake of fragility, transience or simply greater sensitivity to what is present. His work has a mockery and ironic character. He looks critically and with great apprehension at Poland, he does it from the perspective of an emigrant, from culturally and socially different Netherlands, which became a new homeland for him.
  • Tomasz Vetulani's work balances between two fascinating axes, producing an image of an artist juggling various means of expression. From intriguing and expressive objects, made by him from, say, hot white glue or black silicon, with strong social and political connotations - to subtle images-objects, evoking fleeting states, where the sensitive eye of the artist touches the sublimation of certain senses.
  • Vetulani is a rebellious artist: when we admire beautiful faces, forms, wide-framed Dutch landscapes, he says "and now for something you haven’t expected." The spectator is awakened from a reverie and confronted with an object of mysterious ugliness, like silicone heads of the pope.

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