“Tomasz Machciński, a man with a thousand faces”

20 de November, 2023

The parallel programme of the Portreto de la Animo Art Brut Etc. exhibition includes, on 6 December at 1.30pm, a guided tour by Miguel Almeida, from the Oliva Art Centre’s Education Service, on the subject “Tomasz Machciński – a man with a thousand faces”.


In this session we’ll see and get to know Machciński’s work where the transfigured body is a means of artistic expression.


Tomasz Machciński was a photographer of himself. He portraitised himself countless times or, to use a current term, took selfies embodying different characters. Many times. As he himself said: “enough to make up an army”. Famous and fictional characters – who have lived, are living or are yet to be born.


Born in 1942 in Poland, Tomasz Machciński was a self-taught photographer and performer. As a war orphan, he received an autographed card from Hollywood actress Joan Tompkins with the words “Love to ‘Tommy’ from ‘mother’ Joan” as part of a long-distance adoption programme.

For the first 20 years of his life, Machciński was convinced that Tompkins was his mother. The end of his “American dream” and the loss of this supposed identity influenced his artistic work.


His oeuvre consists of more than 22,000 fictitious or appropriated identities, captured in photographic and film self-portraits. In his reenactments, the artist embodies carefree film stars, pop culture icons, historical figures, literature and politics and other eccentric characters of different ethnic, sexual or social affiliations, reinventions of his own identity.


In his work, Machciński acts as a director and actor, make-up and costume designer, archivist, photographer and performance artist. His artistic practice is related to European Art History by playing with traditional methods of representation and their conventions.


On the other hand, he follows the strategy of conceptual photography that uses the self-image as a vehicle to negotiate different meanings, also present in the work of Cindy Sherman or Luigi Ontani. Tomasz Machciński is a leading figure in “raw” photography.


The year after the creation of the Tomasz Machciński Foundation, in 2018, his films were shown at the Whitechapel Gallery (London); that same year he took part in the Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles) in the exhibition PHOTO l BRUT, collection Bruno Decharme & compagnie.


In 2020, he exhibited at the American Folk Art Museum in New York and, finally, a major retrospective exhibition dedicated to the artist at the Manggha (Krakow) in 2021.


Tomasz Machciński died in January 2022 at the age of 79.