Warsaw’s ‘King of the murals’ is back, this time with a huge smog-friendly tribute to Wola
Already firmly established as one of Poland’s best-loved artists, Tytus Brzozowski has returned to the spotlight with another large-format mural in Warsaw.
Originally carving his reputation on account of his surreal water colours, the last three years have seen Brzozowski’s work given the XL treatment with six murals based upon his designs already present around the capital.
Now, a seventh is approaching completion in the district of Wola. Featuring trademark touches such as floating residents and vibrantly coloured landmarks, the latest was created on the behest of ZGN Wola, the real estate management department of the western district.
Covering an area of 375 sq/m, it was painted almost entirely with anti-smog paints and purposefully created to neutralize nitrogen oxides and other pollutants.
As with his previous large format projects, the mural is a dreamlike tribute to the surrounding area, with several iconic buildings presented from the past and the present.
Taking prime place are the pair of gas tanks visible from Zachodnia station. Erected during the Industrial Revolution, these two rotundas were finally decommissioned in 1978 and have since become a favourite hunting ground for urban explorers.
Nicknamed “Wola’s Colosseum” on account of their ruined state and circular shape, these red brick hulks have become iconic symbols of the area.
Brzozowski told TFN: “The most exciting thing about this project is that we have painted three walls in all – usually murals are executed on a single blank wall, but in this case I was able to transform an entire building into a work of art.”
This, says Brzozowski, was a challenge in itself: “It was demanding because the building has a dense mesh of windows on two of its walls so I wasn’t able to paint a picture in the usual fashion.
“Instead, I decided to use the existing window openings and painted a series of cubes with both existing and new windows. Seemingly shifting towards each other, this has created a game with perspective thanks to which the building itself begins to disappear thereby creating a completely new space.”
“In addition to these gas tanks the mural also features granaries that were destroyed during the Siege of Warsaw in September 1939,” says Brzozowski, “and I’ve also chosen to represent Wola’s countless historic factories by depicting a brick chimney.”
Other points of interest include the historic 19th century Workers’ House on ul. Bema, as well as the Church St. Stanisław Biskupa on Wolska.
Opened in 1903, the Neo-Gothic house of worship was used as a transit point for citizens fleeing the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. On a grimmer note, the church’s cemetery was used by the Germans to carry out executions.
However, though Wola has played a major role in Warsaw’s history, its next chapter is currently being written. Rapidly developing, the mural’s immediate vicinity has seen a spate of exciting real estate projects that have injected the area with a fresh, new dynamism.
“As a district Wola is rich in valuable historical elements such as old tenements, churches and numerous remnants that hark to its industrial character,” says Brzozowski.
“On the other hand, no other part of Warsaw is transforming as fast and Wola has adopted a new business and residential face. I wanted the mural to show this contrast and the path that the area is following.”
For this reason, the mural features an abundance of skyscrapers that have the calling card of Wola.
“It’s unusual to see such a rapid transformation of a once neglected district – you can really feel that the city centre is shifting westwards,” says Brzozowski.
“No more just a historic part of town, it feels like an entirely new district is being constructed around the Daszyńskiego roundabout.”
Found on Wschowska 10, the mural’s environmental credentials cannot be disputed.
Mateusz Matejewski, director of ZGN Wola, said: “It wasn’t just the graphic design and idea of the artist that we liked. We made the façade of the building available because we could see the beneficial impact it could have on the environment.
“Used on such a large surface, the amount of paint used has had the equivalent effect of planting 400 trees.”