hot, hot, hot, Piotr Krzymowski and Cedric Teisseire, l'etrangere gallery, London, 2017

By Sylwia Serafinowicz:

The work, titled, I Believe I Can Imagine a Colour I Have Never Seen Before, 2011, was realised while Krzymowski was still a student at Central Saint Martins. Whilst working in the college editing rooms, furnished with old Steenbeck editing machines, he would collect the off cuts of 16mm film discarded by his fellow students. Krzymowski took them home and boiled them in his kitchen, melting the emulsion on the film and in the process revealing new hues and forms. After many unsuccessful attempts at finding the right temperature and formula, Krzymowski arrived at a result he was satisfied with; he subsequently scanned these transformed strips of film, and used them as the basis for his video piece. The image is confronted here with artist's voice narrating his quest for the previously undiscovered colour which he calls "P". As the film progresses, the artist discovers that every shade which appears on the screen is in fact already packed with meanings and references to some of the most iconic paintings in the history of art. In fact, escape beyond the existing cannon of colour feels impossible. Krzymowski explains that in this piece he wanted to transform other students failures (rejected film strips which did not meet their expectations) into something constructive and new. However, since his search for a new colour was unsuccessful Krzymowski eventually felt he was transforming one failure into another.

The aim here is the enjoyment of the creative process and of the unexpected discoveries it brings. This is just one of the meeting points of Krzymowski and Teisseire's practices. They also share the urge to subvert the materials that influence the reality we inhabit. At the end of the nineteenth century, film started its competition with photography for the position of most reliable provider of information and pleasure to mass audiences; in the decades that followed, film revolutionised our knowledge of the world. The unprecedented access to images captured all over the world, shown on cinema and television, laid the foundation for our ever-expanding global perspective. Krzymowski, by boiling the celluloid and transforming it into an array of colours, not only makes us focus on film's seductive materiality, but also reminds us of the long-lasting and often troubled relationship between film and painting. When cinematography started, photography was still trying to establish its own ground as an artistic medium of expression, and was positioned as antagonistic towards painting. Decades later in the 1960s, when process-based and ephemeral art boomed, film and photography became the main media of new art, but still largely failed to be recognised as more than documentation. An exception to this dynamic is the film Somnambulists, 1958, a collaboration between the painter Tadeusz Kantor and graduates of the Film School in Łódź: Mieczysław Waśkowski, and camera operator Adam Nurzyński; the film is an expressive attempt to bring Informel art to the screen. We find the same substance and playfulness in Krzymowski's work, where the colour of the paint is replaced by hues extracted from the celluloid emulsion. Krzymowski and Teisseire's engagement with energy and temperature in their experiments with process is well captured by the title of the show "hot, hot, hot...". Their mischievous and elaborate experiments result in significant transformations of well- known matter into apainterly materials... The artists' works are rooted in rich traditions of visual art and popular culture, but significant energy and desire is felt, bubbling under the surfaces of the works.

Krzymowski and Teisseire challenge yet again the traditional boundaries of the media and make us think again about what defines a colour, what constitutes a painting, what creates the essence of a for a work of art. One thing we know for sure - celluloid film and car lights have never looked so seductive.

I Believe I Can Imagine a Colour I Have Never Seen Before, 16mm film transferred to video, 5 mins, 2011-present (excerpt)

Exhibition view and
I Believe I Can Imagine a Colour I Have Never Seen Before, scans of 16mm film printed on archival paper
and covered in gouache paint, dimensions variable, 2016-present