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M A R C I N   C I E N S K I   | | |

[lives & works – Minneapolis, MN ::: born 1976 – Krakow, Poland]


Marcin Cienski summons the intangible. Using old photographs, pictures from magazines, personal artifacts, and memories as source material, the Polish-born, USA-based artist creates lush, exquisitely rendered oil paintings that tap into our collective unconscious. His moody, sometimes sinister work fuses the ordinary with the unsettling. While the objects and scenes he portrays seem familiar, his paintings are nonetheless puzzling. Akin to film stills, they offer the potential for narrative but ultimately remain unresolved. This is because Cienski does not want the viewer to be pinned down by literal interpretations. Rather, he encourages us to draw from our own experiences and interior states – his is an art of possibility.


But we do not descend into these visions completely, for their technical execution is also significant. The jewel-like colours and lush shadows convey the marks of the maker – brush strokes are always evident. Their presence reminds us that we are involved in painterly acts of representation and interpretation. Cienski says; ‘I do not want paintings to imitate photography. I am keen on remaining true to the medium of oil paint that enables the creation of an independent, parallel reality on canvas with painterly means’.


The painter maintains that his art must not be solely intellectual. As such, Cienski’s desire to tap into a ‘sacred source’ (religious or otherwise) is important. Raised a Catholic, his examination of the spiritual is all-encompassing – his previous series involve ancient church interiors alongside kitschy weeping Madonnas. But Cienski never passes judgment. Rather than suggest that one type of devotion is more significant than another, his work’s overarching sense of ambiguity instead encourages quiet contemplation.


This extends to his examinations of the living. The figures he paints are often self-contained and lost in thought. On occasion, their interiority manifests itself in physical afflictions. Sometimes characters appear grasped by illness and these ideas of entrapment or an invisible threat are central to the artist’s practice.


Cienski’s motivations are not easily articulated. He describes his works as conduits for messages larger than himself and maintains that ‘great art cannot be reasoned out. It comes from a source that cannot be described with smart words and theories’. For Cienski, ‘a painting shouldn’t mean but be’. Accordingly, as viewers, we must fight our desire to understand and succumb to his seductive visions of the inscrutable.

C U R R I C U L U M   V I T A E   | | |

[download full CV below]



2019   Victory Memorial, Jochen Hempel Gallery, Leipzig, Germany

2016   I Am Not Going to Please You, envoy enterprises, New York, US

           Haunted Barn, Jochen Hempel Gallery, Leipzig, Germany

2014   Blissful Summit Days, envoy enterprises, New York, US

   Late Guests, Marc Straus Gallery, New York, US

           Spaete Gaeste, Jochen Hempel Gallery, Leipzig, Germany

2011   Chronic Insomnia, Marianne Friis Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark

   Pensjonat, Galerie Römerapotheke, Zürich, Switzerland

   Bad Air, Gallery Geukens&DeVil, Antwerp, Belgium

   Testing, FRED [London] Ltd, London, England

   Paintings 2006-2007, Galerie Binz & Krämer, Cologne, Germany

   Malerei, Galerie Binz & Krämer, Cologne, Germany

   Nova Gallery, Krakow, Poland



2020   Art in Doom, curated by Matthew Weldon Showman, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2018   Black/Noir, group show at Gallery Youn, Montreal, Canada

2015   I am a Lie and I am Gold, group exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, US

           Die Zimmer der Nomaden (The rooms of the nomads) - museum show at the Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

2013   Twilight Zone, group show  at the Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

           Tierstücke - curated museum show of SØR Rusche Collection, Museum Abtei Liesborn, Germany

   Strange Light, Erika Deak Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

   Ein Bild ist ein Bild, Galerie Alexander Ochs, Berlin, Germany

           Bad Moon Rising 4, Galerie Sans Titre, Brussels /curator Jan Van Woensel/, Belgium

   Nomination for the Sovereign European Art Prize, nominator – Rebecca Wilson /the Saatchi Gallery Director

   Salon Nouveau, Engholm Engelhorn Galerie, Vienna, Austria

           Brave New World, Galerie Binz & Krämer, Köln, Germany

Finalist - Saatchi Gallery and Guardian competition, nomination by Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, co-director of the Gagosian gallery, England

   ‘Kämpfen und Lieben’ Rostocker Satelliten, Kunsthalle Rostock, Germany

   Eurostars, Galleri S.E, Bergen, Norway

   Paperworks – Works on paper, Galerie Binz & Krämer, Köln, Germany



Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, USA

Campbell Collection Los Angeles, USA

Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Switzerland

SOR Rusche Oelde, Germany

AmC Collezione Coppola Vicenza, Italy