Piotr Nowak was born in Olsztyn, Poland, in 1984. In 2009, he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Ceramics and Glass Department of the Wrocław Academy of Fine Arts. In 2007-2008, he spent a year as Artist in Residence at the University of Porto, Portugal. Nowak began a second Master’s studies in 2009 at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, Norway, which he completed in 2011.
Nowak exhibits primarily his sculptural, installation, video, and collaborative projects. A repeated recipient of the Arts Council Norway stipend (2012, 2013, 2018 and 2022), he is an active member of many professional organizations for artists, including as a representative of Norway in the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC). He has participated in several symposia in Europe and Asia, and his works are represented in museums and private collections around the world. In recent years he has been working with art in public space in Norway and Poland. He lives and works in Oslo.
2009-11 • MA Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway
2007-08 • Faculdade de Belas Artes, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
2004-09 • MA Academy of Fine Arts, Wrocław, Poland
2022 • Gallery wspólna, Bydgoszcz, Poland
2022 • Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, Polish Sculpture Centre, Oronsko, Poland
2020 • Contemporary Art Gallery, Former Mine (Stara Kopalnia), Walbrzych, Poland
2020 • Gallery Format, Oslo
2019 • Gallery BWA, Olsztyn, Poland
2018 • ”Patterns in Search for Organic Abstraction”, Bærum Kulturhus, Norway
2015 • Gallery Athene, Drammen, Norway
2013 • Gallery Project B, Daegu City, South Korea
2010 • Gallery Athene, Drammen, Norway
2009 • ”Chosen senses”, Browar Mieszczanski Gallery, Wroclaw, Poland
2008 • ”Sentir”, Espaco T, Porto, Portugal
Selected group exhibitions
2023 • Yun Gee Park Gallery and Atelier, Tucson, Arizona, USA
2021 • ”Made in Ringebu”, Center for Ceramic Arts, Ringebu, Norway
2019 • Laboro, Polish Sculpture Centre, Oronsko, Poland
2019 • ”The Line of Balance”, Fossekleiva Kultursenter, Norway
2018 • AIC Members Exhibition, Yingge, Taiwan
2017 • ” SAMLET”- in collaboration with Frysja Kunstnersenter, BOA, Oslo
2016 • ” Årsutstillingen 2016”, Fredrikstad, Norway
2014 • ”Punktutstilling 2014”, Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo
2014 • ”Symposium 2014”, Boleslawiec, Polen
2014 • ”Retrospective AIR Vallauris”, France
2013 • “Årsutstillingen 2013”, Oslo
2013 • European Triennial for Ceramics and Glass, Mons, Belgium
2013 • Gallery Aqui Siam Ben, Vallauris, France
2013 • Gallery Le Kabinett, with Korper Collectif, Brussels, Belgium
2012 • “The Dream of Yeonorang “, Pohang Art Center, South Korea
2012 • ”Byeol Byeol Nara” Intrnational Exhibition inYeongcheon, South Korea
2012 • “AIR 2012“Clayarch Gimhae Museum, South Korea
2011 • National Art Exhibition 124 – “Høstutstillingen”, Oslo
2010 • “Beyond the surface”, Oslo National Academy of the Arts,
2009 • “Heart”, Festival Podwodny, Wroclaw, Poland
2008 • ”As belas e os maus”, in collaboration with Maus Habitos, Porto, Portugal
The Essence of the Clash, 2020. Catalogue
Tommerup Ceramic Workcenter, vol 1 and 2. 2018. Lise Seisbøll Mikkelsen
Kunsthåndverk 2016. Årsutstilling. Catalogue
Oslo Kommunes kunstordning 2016. Catalogue
Ceramic and sculpture symposium, Boleslawiec 2014. Catalogue
Kunsthåndverk 2013. Årsutstilling. Catalogue
European Triennial for Ceramics and Glass 2013, Mons, Belgium. Catalogue
A.I.R. IV, Special Exhibition in Clayarch Gimhae Museum 2012
National Art Exhibition 124. Høstutstillingen 2011. Catalogue
Public art commissions
2022 • ”Lysdans”, ”Skimmer”, in collaboration with Aron Irving Li, Oksenøya Senter, Fornebu, Norway
2021 • ”Nysnø”, in collaboration with Aron Irving Li, Oppdal, Norway
2020 • ”Fire”, in collaboration with Kristine Roald Sandøy, Løten, Norway
2018 • ”Patterns”, Bærum Kulturhuset, Sandvika, Norway
2017 • ”Bølgen”, in collaboration with Kristine Roald Sandøy, Drøbak, Norway
2017 • ”S-Wave”, in collaboration with Kristine Roald Sandøy, Drøbak, Norway
2017 • ”The Wave”, Drøbak, Norway
2016 • ”Giraffe”, Sculpture Park, Swidnica, Poland
2017 • ”Briller”, Fernanda Nissen Skole, in collaboration with Kristine Roald Sandøy, Storo, Oslo , Norway
2015 • ”Brainstorming”, in collaboration with Kristine Roald Sandøy, Malvik VGS, Sør-Trondelag, Norway
2012 • Arts Council Norway – Statens Diversestipend
2013-2015 • Arts Council Norway – Statens Arbeidsstipend for younger artists
2018-2020 • Arts Council Norway – Statens Arbeidsstipend
2018 • Norske Kunsthåndverkere – travel grant (Taiwan)
2019 • Norske Kunsthåndverkere – travel grant (Poland)
2019 • Norwegian Crafts – grant for exhibition shipping and transport
2020 • Norske Kunsthåndverkere – travel grant (Poland)
2022-2032 • Arts Council Norway – Statens Arbeidsstipend
2021 • Artist-in-residence, Senter for Ceramic Art, Ringebu, Norway
2019 • Artist-in-residence, Shangyu Ceramic Centre, China
2018 • Artist-in-residence, Polish Sculpture Centre, Oronsko, Poland
2016 • Artist-in-residence, Refractory Ceramics factory, Zarow, Poland
2014 • Artist-in-residence, Boleslawiec, Poland
2013 • Artist-in-residence, Vallauris, France
2012 • Artist-in-residence, Ceramic Creative Centre at Clayarch Gimhae Museum, South Korea
International Academy of Ceramics
Norwegian Sculptors Association – Norsk Billedhuggerforegning NBF
Association of Norwegian Visual Artists – Norske Billedkunstnere NBK
Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association – Norske Kunsthåndverkere NK
Oslo City Art Collection
Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan
Shangyu Celadon Modern Ceramic International Center, China
Clayarch Museum, Gimhae, South Korea
NRK, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Norway
Museum of Ceramics, Boleslawiec, Poland
Museum of Ceramics, Walbrzych, Poland
Museum of Fine Arts Academy, Wroclaw, Poland
BWA Gallery collection, Poland
Relevant work experience and other qualifications
2021- • MUNCH, Oslo. Art technician, moving collection from Munchmuseet at Tøyen to Munch Bjørvika.
2011-2012 • Oslo National Academy of the Arts – Faculty of Ceramics, teacher at “MEGAskulpture” course and
“Ceramics in Architecture”. Guidance and individual work with both BA and MA students.
2012- • Enterprise- independent artistic practice within visual arts.
Production of complex art projects, public commissions, consultation.
2020 • Project leader, moderator for Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts in Oslo.
Project: Webinar: ”Strategy, Action, Survival – working with art in time of corona”.
Financed by Arts Council Norway, Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association.
2020 • Project leader, moderator for Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts in Oslo.
Project: Seminar: ”Working with Art internationally”
+ Lecture: ”Art transport and shipping challenges”
Financed by Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association
2018 • Lecturer for Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts.
Project: Seminar: ”Art in Public Space”
2019 – 2021 • Board member at Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association in Oslo.
2021 – 2023 • Representative of Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts.
Beard member in committee for municipally subsidized studios in Oslo Municipality.
2021 – 2023 • Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts.
Board member in fund management committee.
2012 – 2015 • Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo – Art Technician, various exhibitions, different periods.
2013 – 2014 • Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo – Art Technician, various exhibitions, different periods.
2013 – 2014 • Verdensteater – Art Technician, ”Bridge over mud” show, different periods.
Dreams, Death, Glass & Gliders
By Piotr Nowak
There was this frequently recurring dream, through many years, which I had at least once a month. I was tearing through the forest, a dense thicket, thin branches, walking bare foot in the mud full of sharp metal and broken glass. I walk slowly, in pain growing to convulsions. But it is not the pain that is most unbearable, it’s the body position: strained, cramped, crawling, forced to wade through pointed sticks and twisting in convulsion. It is a kind of humiliation, even dehumanization. It’s a long and exhausting way. Battered, and dead tired, I stop, can’t take it anymore. I look up, the sky is clear, like in August, a full-blooded blue, pure in its depth. High above I can see a shape. It’s me. Now I look at myself, cutting my way to the horizon with arms spread wide. There is no weariness, no pain, no endless struggle. It is clearness, like a post-narcotic state of intoxication, with a sense of unity between time and space. There is no gravity, I am safe and nothing can hurt me. I wake up.
I analyzed that dream a thousand times but never really understood it. I kept it at the back of my head. I couldn’t explain a hunch that it could in some way be connected to the way I would die.
After my eighteenth birthday, I decided to realize my desire of becoming a pilot. I wanted to enroll in a gliding course. After a series of physical and psychological examinations, I was allowed to become a member of an exclusive “aero club”, and start my pilot training program. After classes on meteorology, navigation, mechanics, aviation and communication, and after test jumps with a parachute, I passed the theoretical exam. With that knowledge, a few other cadets and I started practical training on the airfield. Pushing gliders on the grassy surface of the airfield in the middle of summer is heavy physical labor. The burning sun is merciless in the open field.
I remember the first time I saw a glider take-off up close. A device called a “winch” was used as a substitute for a towing plane. It was a huge spinning reel used to keep heavy tension on a metal line across the airfield, with the other end attached to the glider. I was just watching, standing on the ground. Start. Rolling on the ground, gradually gaining speed, faster and faster. Rising quickly off the ground, higher, 10, 30, 50, 100, 200, 300 meters, then the release of the line. It is self-sustainable, gliding, hovering, contradicting gravity.
That was the moment when I understood, when I felt like I was once again dreaming, this time with my eyes wide opened. I kept my impression for myself and didn’t share the thought that this might be the way in which I will die.
Over the course of two months I made over 30 flights on my own. The experience of takeoff while sitting in the cabin and holding the joystick was absolutely amazing and very addictive. I didn’t want to land, but to just stay in the air, forever.
One evening I was going back home from the airfield on my bike. At one point I was to cross the street and jump on to the sidewalk. Nothing difficult, really. A moment’s distraction and the front wheel got stuck in the gap before the sidewalk. I tumbled over the handlebars, hitting the ground with my chest. Nothing happened, so I shook off the dirt, got back on and rode along.
A week later back on the airfield I was pushing the glider out of a hangar. With every push I could feel a piercing pain in my chest, like a needle, on the left side. I told my cadet friends about it. They assumed that it must be psychosomatic pain, probably caused by overexcitement. They advised me to take it easy, and have a
glass of vodka to relax. I took their advice. I drank a glass of vodka, the pain was still there. I drank another one, and it didn’t hurt so much. I rode home on my bicycle.
The next morning I went to see a doctor with the hope that I would get a prescription for some pills which would cure me. While the doctor was listening to my chest I could see her eyes opening wider and wider, and said “Don’t move. An ambulance will take you to the hospital”. I didn’t know what it was. One x-ray, and then another, and a diagnosis – pneumothorax pleura. Stupid bike ride, I thought.
I was taken for observation to a ward specialized in lung thoracic surgery. All the other patients were there because of lung cancer caused by smoking. They were either waiting for an operation, or recovering just after. I was sharing a part of the room with Mr. Stanislaw, a very nice man in his late fifties. I met him a day after they removed one of his lungs because of cancer. I couldn’t sleep at night, listening to his desperate attempts to breathe. Every night I thought he was dying. When he tried to lift himself from his bed, he would roar as if he was peeling off his own skin. He used to tell me: “I close my eyes and I see myself smoking… Marlboro, Camel, L&M”.
Other patients were in slightly better condition. They could walk a little. They all had plastic tubes attached to their lungs. Through those tubes a thick, dark brown liquid was slowly trickling down to big glass bottles.
Everybody was waiting until the morning medical supervision was finished. When the doctors left the room, most patients were grabbing their bottles and having a smoke at the opened window, while one was on guard, holding the door closed.
Ten years from today doctors of medicine were allowed to smoke in their own office at hospital. I saw my doctor smoking red Marlboro. Observing that bizarre spectacle I almost managed to quit smoking myself. After one week in bed I started to feel better. The doctors still weren’t sure if they would operate on me,
however because I was feeling better I was allowed to move around on hospital premises. Every day I spent a few hours after breakfast sitting on a bench in a small park just behind the hospital building. There were other patients there too. We were all wearing striped hospital pajamas. Moving on along park paths very slowly, most of them holding their bottles with the drain pipes hidden under their pajama tops.
I was sitting and sketching with charcoal. The fence, flowers, trees, benches, etc. A beautiful summer. The sky was so deeply blue. I was watching it very often, just couldn’t help it. The airfield wasn’t far away. Sometimes, very, very high above I could see a glider circling. I suspected that it probably was one of my friends having a fantastic time in the air. It felt bad. For me gliding was over.
One day one of my friends called me from the aero club. He told me there had been an accident. A glider went down above the forest and hit one of the trees. The pilot was very lucky to have survived the crash, but there was not much left of the glider.
In this sport, accidents are very frequent. Nothing dangerous can happen in the air, but when you are close to the ground things are different. In most cases it’s just too low. Even if you manage to jump out, there is no time for the parachute to open.
I thought – if it weren’t for the unfortunate bike ride, if it was I in the cockpit holding the joystick, would I die?
Ten years later I saw a performance by Bjørn Nørgaard, a man walking barefoot up on a path he made himself during many hours of struggle. A path made of clay mud and broken glass.
The dream is recurring. I begin to understand.