To be fair, though, they're not too far off the mark. Ziolowski's work is quite something. At turns beautiful, at turns horrific, but never short of eye catching. His recurrent themes of skulls, flames, entrails, and let's face it, more cocks than Venky's*, suggest an artist that has settled on his style and is now drilling down deep into that style. Not the only thing drilling down deep as will soon become apparent.
The oddly named Ian Moon show was made during a recent phase of intense creative experimentation that Ziolkowski spent living in Hanoi, Vietnam. There's nothing particularly, or even remotely, Vietnamese about any of it though. It seems more like Ziolkowski just needed to spend some time in a different location to work through some artistic ideas and, it's hinted at, some personal demons. I've got some stuff I need to work through. Would someone like to pay for me to spend eight months in Vietnam?
If these images represent what goes on in his head or how he views personal relationships then it's probably just as well for him that he worked that through. Healing shows a young lady with her eyelashes aflame, Thinking goes one further by having her entire lower face aglow, and Rebirth gets rid of the protagonist entirely and simply depicts a hellish inferno awaiting our dejected souls. Nice.
The spindly figure of Metamorphosis is so frail it looks as if it could fall to bits any moment. A statement on our own internal emotional fragilities or just a really cool painting? Ziolkowski gets to have it both ways and that's no criticism. Not when the work is this good.
He's paid attention to making this small, one room only, exhibition an experience. Like Chris Ofili's wonderful Weaving Magic exhibition at the National Gallery last year the trademark white walls have been painted over with his own wallpaper designs showing lovesick men vomiting and semi abstract motifs repeated into patterns that look very different from a distance to how they do when inspected at closer quarters.
Sick of Love (2017)
Sick of Love (2016)
In the centre of the room there's a selection of ceramics that may remind you of Grayson Perry's work. Perhaps if Grayson Perry was to undergo a severe mental breakdown. It's Ziolkowski's 'Sick of Love' series and you start to think that whoever it was that broke his heart, they fucked him up pretty bad.
It seems that daubing ceramics in paint and slogans, painting burning female faces, and having the best part of a year long holiday can be pretty cathartic though. Which is both good for him and for us because we get to enjoy his art.
Overseeing the whole thing, like some duplicitous cult leader, is a statue of Ian Moon himself, a spindly spectacled authoritarian looking figure who, like much of Ziolkowski's startling art, is never fully explained. Behind him sits a bright red image featuring tens, if not hundreds (I didn't count) of swollen tumescent dicks. Multiple hands caress some cocks as others are plunged unromantically and not particularly erotically between fishnet stockinged legs. A giant eye looks out at the scene of catastrophic pornography and we're left to ponder the horrific visions that might come into the mind of man sweating in the middle of the night in a Vietnam hotel room as he tries, and fails, to conjure up suitable memories to masturbate over. Though that could just be my reading of it. Either way Ziolkowski's work is not a load of wank.
Sick of Love (2016)
Untitled (Temple of them all) (2017)
Ian Moon (2016-17)
*Joke courtesy of Raymond Noire, Goa, 2012.