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ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

ABSTRACT DEPTHS AT RAITMAN ART GALLERIES

Kristof Kosmowski’s artwork explores a world of mystery and excitement

Kristof Kosmowski and his artistic wife, Noemi, grew up under communist rule in Poland, which Noemi describes as “a really sad … grey nation.” These days, Kristof’s abstract landscapes, full of rich colors, texture and emotional energy, show no signs of his original homeland’s despair — but they do include its masterful European traditions.

Kosmowski earned his graduate degree in graphic design at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. As a commercial graphic designer, he designed movie posters for studios and stamps depicting various sports for the Polish Postal Service. He trained at the Escola Massana Centre d’Art in Barcelona, and by the time he was 25, his vivid sports portrayals led to 25 one-man shows in Poland, Germany and Finland.

In 1984, the Kosmowskis escaped from Poland to Germany with their two toddlers. They had always intended to move to the U.S., but it took them three more years to get their papers, which allowed them to relocate to America as political refugees. 

Kristof and Noemi both originated from artistic families; her father was the first to start an animation studio in Poland and was friends with such greats as Picasso. But they didn’t have the professional connections in the U.S. that they had in Poland, so they started from scratch. Kristof could only get a job laying out a Russian newspaper in New Jersey, while Noemi cleaned houses by day, sung at a Polish club by night and painted whenever she could. All of their work paid off, not only for them as accomplished, professional fine artists, but also for their now-grown children: Their daughter acted in the national tour of “Cats,” then moved to Los Angeles to be in the television show “PanAm,” and their son is a computer animator.

After living in Florida for 19 years and specializing in faux finishes and mural commissions, the Kosmowskis finally moved to Glenwood Springs, which they consider “home.”

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A year before settling in Colorado in 2009, the U.S. Tennis Association commissioned Kosmowski to develop the official poster for the Davis Cup. Despite his success in realistic renderings, he decided to change it all up. In 2010, he picked up his palette knife and Venetian plaster and focused on abstract interpretations of still lifes and landscapes. 

Now, he takes a modern, expressionistic approach to portraying Colorado’s mountainous and watery landscape. While nature inspires his abstract pieces, overall, he views abstract art as a mindset, concerned with subtracting detail.

Kosmowski jokes that he’s “getting older, and (doesn’t) care about the details anymore,” but mostly, he turned to abstracts to create even more interesting art.

“When you look at my paintings, you have to think a little bit. Then you see something — and some people see different things,” he says. “It’s like the human brain. First you see colors, then shapes, then you participate in meaning. In my case, the colors are interesting first.”

Intermingling layers of colors with Venetian plaster results in a depth and rich vibrancy that sets his paintings apart. His work stems “from a deep energy that translates into the poetic motions of his palette knives and brushes,” according to Raitman Art Galleries, “…giving every piece intense feelings of mystery and excitement.”