This Poland native, born in 1951, is an environmental artist who is now settled in New York. Jacek Tylicki began his work with nature in 1973. Taking pieces of paper or canvas, he sent them blowing into the wind, under trees and rocks, and waited for a time until recovering them to see what the world had done to them. He ended up creating a startling amount of beautiful forms, colors, and patterns that, in all actuality, he hadn’t made. Tylicki began to make nature do something that all artists do as well- create forms. The results are an array of shapes and designs that are unique; full of movement and detail that a person could not ever hope to make on their own. The fascinating act that he performs through these is harnessing nature’s hand to make something more permanent than itself.

Natural Art Nr. 1
4 days in the grass of the meadow. S.W. of Lund. Sweden
16/07 – 20/07 1973
460 X 460 mm.
Watercolor paper.

Natural Art Nr. 81
Created by Nature. 3 days on the bank of Hoje river. S.W. of Lund. Sweden.
727 x 507 mm. Museum board.

Nr. 364
17 days on volcanic meadow. Ellidaar, Iceland. 29/06 – 15/07 1979
47,5 cm x 35,5 cm

The use of so many different mediums, based on the location of the recording material, gives each piece a specific feeling. A riverbank leaves few colors but a dripping pattern. Placed under two trees, a band of specks and splashes come into shape across a band. It’s neat how everything seems to be recognizable in a way. The essence of the earth places itself in ways unexplained on the paper.

In an entirely different way, Tylicki brings forward humor and idealism in nature by converting a gallery into a hen house. Inside are realistic “ideal” paintings of chickens, with exquisite plumage and structure. His theory was that, as we are obsessed with the beauty of the “ideal” human body, so should animals enjoy viewing the same of themselves.

Tylicki’s argument was based on a few questions- what is beauty? What is ugly? And for who? Is it really a matter of beauty? Whil not directly related to the environment, it does raise a humanistic point of view. We come to see that art is in the eye of the beholder as well as the subject. It also points to the exploitation of the human body, especially in western culture. His theories also delve into psychoanalytical topics that answer the questions asked. It’s an interesting way to bring together irony, truth, humanism, and natural curiosities.

While exploring the different areas of humanism in his work, Tylicki takes the environment and juxtaposes it with the natural art of the ways of humans. Unlike typical landscape art or “earth work”, he wants to see past the beauty of the object(s) themselves and question instead the cycles, purposes, and ideals of humans in their environment.

“365 days” 1979. Lund, Sweden.
One photo a day of a tree

This project, which documents one tree over the course of a year, shows Tylicki’s interest in cycles again. A conceptual piece based on observation and, in a way, science. I like viewing this work next to his series of “Natural art” to see the various ways he decides to showcase his way of seeing. Tylicki seems to have a wonderfully unique grasp on the topic of environmental art.

-Ailish Reilly


2 responses »

  1. Elaine Wu says:

    These are beautiful!!! Love the cycle series… almost depicts a kind of ‘cycle of life’.

  2. Bianca Pol says:

    I love his use of nature as a photographic medium. These are incredible and compelling.

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