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Self-taught street artist Igor Dobrowolski paints stark photorealistic portraits with emotional conviction. Exploring the human capacity for empathy and the interaction between poverty and unity, this young Polish artist creates captivatingly real artworks that depict the reality of our times.
Born in Jelenia Góra, Poland, Dobrowolski has long drawn from the aesthetics of his childhood hometown for inspiration. Delicately shaded large-scale paintings in monochrome hues are often layered with overlapping body parts or dream-like imagery. Inspired by Dalí and Escher as a child, Dobrowolski spent hours indoors sketching; drawing from his family’s collection of art books which had a profound influence on his practice. In 2014, after a short hiatus designing footwear, Dobrowolski decided to dedicate himself entirely to his craft; spending every day for a month and a half on an intricate artwork of a homeless girl he had seen on the news. “At that time, I was reading about what was going on in the world and I was struck by the trauma, the pain, the suffering – I wanted to do something. It was my way of expressing myself and I felt it in my heart. I was just painting and sleeping. Painting and sleeping. Trying to make a difference.”
Motivated by the desire to convey true stories, Dobrowolski launched a series of street art campaigns in different countries, using his art to juxtapose Western consumerism with human suffering. Billboards evoked the detrimental impact of fast fashion, specifically the collapse of the Bangladesh garment factory Rana Plaza which resulted in the death of over 1,000 workers. Another campaign ‘Christmas in Yemen’ was produced in Berlin in 2017 which included materialistic scenes collaged with scenes of war and poverty. “I just want to give a voice to the voiceless. Because for many, the world is a merciless thing.”
Dobrowolski’s work has been exhibited in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Berlin, Rzeszów and London and can be found in the private collections of numerous celebrities including Channing Tatum, Gigi Hadid and Nicole Scherzinger. In June 2019, Dobrowolski collaborated with internationally recognised band 5 Seconds of Summer for a live painting masterclass. He has most recently exhibited his work at the seminal group exhibition ‘Love and Other Crimes,’ hosted at Maddox Gallery Mayfair in February 2019.
“It is very important for me to include, in all of my works a particle of hope, because I believe it’s going to be ‘better.’ Even after the greatest tragedies.”