Joanna Janiak, Piotr C. Kowalski "The Nature of Things", a text to the exhibition, BWA Warszawa, 2015

The winter of 2006 was blistering cold. At the time, Joanna Janiak and Piotr C. Kowalski were renovating a country house. At -10 °C, the paint was frozen on the wall, creating an abstract pattern like frost on glass. Joanna urged Peter to replicate these patterns on canvas. The couple had revealed an aesthetic acuity and affinity for engaging nature in the creative process long before. 15 years ago, in writing about Piotr C. Kowalski's artistic activities, Alicja Kępińska remarked that "this soft transition between the experience of life and the life of art is the essence of the artist's actions". In 2009 Joanna and Piotr took their first painting into the garden to have it freeze over. From that moment on they have continued the process every winter - whenever conditions permit.
Piotr has been making paintings in sync with nature since the 1980s. Jerzy Ludwiński wrote in a letter to Piotr, "A long time ago, when Martial Law was still in place, I went to an exhibition and saw a painting there that interested me. I looked at it, observing how it had been painted, what it was. I realized it wasn't paint. I thought: it must be some strange technique. I couldn't fathom that you could gather some berries and squirt them onto the canvas".
The berries had been picked for the artist's daughter Justyna, a toddler at the time, today a co-founder of the BWA Warszawa Gallery. As he was heading out of the forest, Piotr found a sign that said the area had been tainted. His anger, along with a sense that nothing should be wasted, led him to smash the berries on some canvases that had been prepared for him to paint on. After the first three abstract paintings in berries, titled "Still Life", he returned to traditional paints. But the impulse for collaborating with nature remained.
The large-format canvases painted in the outdoors were too big and too heavy to take back to the studio each time. At one point, Piotr began leaving them in the woods, dug into the ground, sometimes for months at a time. He took everything that came about on the canvas as an integral part of the painting. Today, with the series "Live Nature", he doesn't interfere with the course of events, treating his painting as a continuous performance. He is considered a painter, yet his activities stretch into the realms of performance, land art and post-minimalism, much in the way of Robert Morris and his belief that "Chance is accepted and indeterminacy is implied".
In the series "Passerby Paintings", the works are a record of the movements of random passersby. Piotr places his canvases on the sidewalks of major cities - Poznan, Frankfurt, Toledo, Tokyo, Wroclaw... As people pass, dirt and dust settle on the canvases. Zygmunt Bauman wrote in a letter to Piotr, "You're also a magician, as you make the street, and the city, paint themselves. What's more (and here a magic wand is truly needed, while few have one in their grasp), you make other people, myself included, see in nature, the city or the street, a work of art, the sort that comes about before one's very eyes, never to turn back for ages and ages, that which the eyes can see, and how they see, while the link between the foot and the eye (the street and city invented to break it) is revived".
In her book "Bio-transfiguration. Art and the aesthetics of Post-humanism" (Bio-transfiguracje. Sztuka i estetyka posthumanizmu), Monika Bakke analyzes the artistic activities of those who "decentralize the human subject by bringing about an intimacy with animals or plants, threatening his autonomy". Bakke indicates that the subject of today has shifted character and "is no longer the polymorphous being the post-modernists have written about, but, rather, an open subject, perceptive, sensitive to the world around him, of which he is an integral part". It's hard to find a better example of art that comes as a result of such convictions than that of Joanna and Piotr - open to the biosphere, replete with a new form of non-anthropocentric thinking.