Radosław Perlak – born in 1979 in Poznań. Painter, illustrator, writer. He served in the French Foreign Legion. Since 1999, he has been serving a life sentence in the Correctional Facility in Rawicz. In prison, he passed his adult high school finishing exams. He has written three books. The most recent of these, “We May All Be Prisoners” (2015), is a critique of the Polish penitentiary system.


Dream about Dauha, 2012–2014

A photorealistic portrait of the emir of Qatar make a biting comment on the right of pardon of the President of Poland. As is often the case in Perlak’s works, the critical aspect of the image becomes clear only after reading the accompanying text: “It is a myth that every prisoner in Poland may write to the President and ask for pardon. A prisoner like me might as well write a letter to nowhere. In reality, such a letter reaches the same judges who sentenced the prisoner, and only later (in practice there is no ‘later’) to the Prosecutor General, and finally to the clerks in the office of the President. These people consider the case in a way that is already known in advance. In practice, then no Polish President reads a request for pardon in a situation like mine. In order to have any kind of chance at all, I decided to ask someone as rich and influential as the emir of Qatar for pardon. If you feel that this was idiocy or madness on my part, remember that it would be even madder to write to the Polish President with such a request. Dream about Dauha reflects with its dimensions (it weighs 20 kg) and the enormous amount of work I invested in it my great desire to be released from here, so that I can paint huge pictures in freedom. And at the same time, it reflects the enormity of my dashed hopes.”

The portrait of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2016
Europe vs. ISIS, 2016
oil on canvas

“Europe, with the richest combined economy in the world and the strongest and most modern armed forces, seems to be hypnotised by its own luxurious life, fearful and completely unable to lead concerted, effective action,” writes the artist about his painting “Europe vs. ISIS”. “It neither destroys the handfuls of fanatics in the desert, nor opens the doors to refugees, nor closes them. Like an irrational spectre, fear floats throughout Europe of terrorists and Muslims who are expected to molest white women. No one is counting how many white and non-Muslim men are raping and molesting white non-Muslim women. In Europe, there is a 1000% greater probability of death from a fall on the stairs than as a result of a terrorist attack. If over there, at the Muzeum Śląskie, there happen to be some stairs, you should be ten times more afraid of them than of terrorists.” A second painting, this time a portrait of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian-born publicist and feminist activist, addresses the media discussion around the topic. As a former Muslim, she has become one of the most severe critics of the religion, calling for its reform in a spirit of respect for human rights.

Nude of Lucie Boswell, 2016
oil on canvas
courtesy of the artist

The picture “Nude of Lucie Boswell” was inspired by a photographic self-portrait of Lucie Boswell – an American painter who sent it by mail to Perlak to the prison in Rawicz. The two were exchanging letters for a couple of years.