Roman Klonek - profile, The gardener - 2010

Roman Klonek

January 9, 2015

Roman Klonek is a Polish-born artist, whose specialty are colorful, peculiar, cartoon-inspired woodcuts. Now based in Germany, Roman was born in 1969 in Kattowitz, Poland. He discovered a passion for woodcut printing in the 1990′s when he studied Graphic Arts in Düsseldorf.

Largely influenced by Eastern European cartoon styles, Klonek creates a work populated by a wide range of whimsical, fantasy creatures who look like they are derived from his own mythology. His work is a mixture of contemporary influences and cultural roots, especially East European cartoons, which he grew up with, as his father had a big collection of Polish and Russian Super 8 cartoons. For a long time Roman was not aware that he was influenced by these cartoons – until he had a lot of déjà vu while rewatching all the Bolek i Lolek and Nu pogodi cartoons. Since then, he has even increased this effect and influence, by adding more Russian or Polish types of look in his woodcuts. With odd animalistic figures, strange unidentifiable objects and totemistic patterns combining to form scenes or entire worlds which have unsettling echoes of the creations of our subconscious, his woodcut posters are like stepping into a cartoon world, which the artist himself describes as a ‘bizarre balancing act between propaganda, folklore, and pop.’

Using pencils, a carving knife, chissels, and screw clamps as tools, he creates a fresh take on an old style, with reduced forms of the woodcuts as reminiscent of the first days of comics and cartoons. Klonek is creating in the technique called lost cut. During this process, he print all colors with only one plate, cut out all the spots that should remain white, and then prints the first color. Process is then repeated, in which he cut out all the spots that should remain in the first color, and so on. In the end the plate is lost, and a retake is not possible anymore. His distinctive technique gives him a freedom of mistakes – they are unavoidable on the surface, and every print has its own little, unique mistakes. ‘It sounds paradoxical, but at the end of a printing process I have a couple of unique prints, and that’s why I love it’, as the artist states.

In 2001, Klonek founded the Gallery Revolver, bought a printing press and started a never-ending process of producing woodcut printings. Roman Klonek works together with friends in a studio in Düsseldorf, Germany.