Billion and One

Billion and One is an installation by the artistic duet Kijewski&Kocur composed of a hypnotising crowd of figurines – a multiplied portrait of kneeling Mao Tse-tung, the ruler of billion souls. In 2000, Malgorzata Malinowska produced prototype of the sculptural mod- ule and since then she considers the project being still in progress. The exhibition at Propaganda Gallery will be the biggest presentation of this work up to date.

Multitude, massive uncountability, giant scale – thanks to this extents Kijewski&Kocur’s artwork reaches utter significance. Equalisation and openness for this infinite perspective breaks the measurable element named one – indicated in the title and still remaining a condition structuring the exposition, which artists clearly verbalised:

„Billion and One”. Therefore, it will be impossible to expose like 3 figurines on the exhibition, but 10 plus 1, 100 plus 1, 1000 plus 1.

[Marek Kijewski in an interview with Marek Goździewski and Joanna Rentowska]

Kijewski&Kocur’s artwork is quite oxymoronic; the collision of something tangible with unspecified creates an image of society of a kind, a vision of the world’s construction. This view of multiplicated Chinese leader immediately suggests an association with Terracotta Army, or Antony Gormley’s sculptural composition titled Field (presented in Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Art in 1994), which fascinated Marek Kijewski. In turn, the Mao’s figurine depicting him in a restrained, prayerful pose evokes the effigy of another despot – apologetic Hitler by Maurizio Cattelan (2001). Through this affinity of a religious gesture, rooted in the Western beliefs, but submitted to the hands of a totalitarian Eastern leader, two visions of the world intersect.


Malgorzata Malinowska (1959) (Kocur) was studying at the Faculty of Painting, Graphics and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. Shortly after graduation she took scholarships and artistic trainings abroad. In 1994 she met Marek Kijewski, then moved form Gdansk to Warsaw, decided to quit painting and concentrate on spatial forms.

Marek Kijewski (1955-2007) graduated the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Sculpture Faculty. Over the period of 1985-1987 along with Miroslaw Balka and Miroslaw Filonik he co-founded an artistic group called Neue Bieremiennost. Kijewski’s figurative realisations, formed just after studies, were closely associated with New Expression. Later, his works were consistently rendered more and more aloof from realism by the use of light (fluorescent lamps, neon tubes). Also fascination with the philosophy of the Orthodox thinker Paul Florensky contributed to the abandonment of figuration and inclination for the mystical, contemplative and abstract character.

Since 1996 he was cooperating with Malgorzata Malinowska as Kijewski&Kocur duet. They were exploring various fields of contemporary visual culture, using an original strategy called SSS – surfing, scanning, sampling.

This concept allows us to cultivate a kind of intellectual culture surfing. We move in this space, freely scanning elements of the past, present and future – those, which are important in our opinion. Such fragments, devoid of identity, make up a material, which is sampling by computers of our imagination.

Kijewski&Kocur were creating collage works designed to correspond with the perception and state of consciousness of the contemporary audience. They were freely compiling what is commonly defined as high with what is low, without embarrassment transgressing the boundaries between cultural agendas, by constructing wild aestheticly-semantic hybrids. Cartoon characters were mixed with mythological figures, saints with pop culture idols, inspirations of Malewicz with fascination of narcotic states. Artists workshop looked similarly eclectic – unartistic materials such as Haribo jellies, Lego bricks, artificial fur, colourful plastics and resin were existing next to the precious stones and 24-karat gold. Kijewski&Kocur were audaciously juggling with forms, putting their bold ideas into the classical sculptural profiles, such as bust, equestrian portrait, obelisk. All these treatments were in the vision of art, which Kijewski were described – citing Cleas Oldenburg – as:

I am for an art which is political-erotic-mystical, which does something more than sit on it’s ass in a museum […]. I am for an art, which takes the form of life’s line itself, which swirls, spreads, accumulates, squirts, drips, which is churlish, blunt, sweet and stupid as the life is itself.

Since 2001 Kijewski&Kocur were dealing with Theory of the ethical bits, which was an attempt of the sculptural expression of the information revolution. They were building architectural constructions representing objects for contemplation.

Since Kijewski’s death (2007) Malgorzata Malinowska preserves the old artworks, finalises those, which were begun and realises those, which were in the projects so far.