Ugly Art for Ugly Times: Bizarre Cartoons by Janek Koza
Janek Koza is a Polish illustrator and cartoonist. Studied painting and new media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, Poland. Worked as an animator, created graphic novels. Has been drawing satirical cartoons for newspapers for over 10 years. Has a regular weekly column in one of the biggest Polish magazines, “Polityka” and partners up with other newspapers.
He discovered that Russia invaded Ukraine when reading the morning news. At first, he thought that joking about the war was tactless. But his job as a cartoonist is to highlight the main events in politics and society, so he went for it.
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Deliberately hideous and primitive drawings have been here for a long time. According to the New York Times columnist, ugly art reflects ugly times. As an example, he discusses Otto Dix’ works created in the 1930s as the Second World War crept closer; Philip Guston, a cartoonist, who worked in the 1960s illustrating race riots in America; and noxious colors of Albert Oehlen, which he found amidst the Cold War in the 1980s.
One may argue if this theory is true. However, a trend for ugly drawing is currently taking over social media. Janek Koza, a Polish illustrator and cartoonist, is among the most striking representatives of the movement. In his work, he reflects on important things, including climate change, minority rights, and — from recently — the war in Ukraine.