I have spent time at art college learning a visual language but I'm conscious that, compared with my father who went through the war, I've got nothing to say. I need the things I make to be some sort of small adventure. As a result I find that they are made in a similar way, and for similar reasons, as I used to make go-karts when I was a child. As 'real life' experiences my adventures may pale in comparison to, say, my father's in the war. However, this sense of inadequacy I feel, is an experience in itself.
Chris Dobrowolski's vehicles demonstrate that criticality can co-exist with confirmation. They have the capacity to combine celebration with uncertainty; humour with speculation; the ridiculous with the profound.
Lovingly and meticulously constructed by hand, bizarrely engineered in found bits and pieces, these vehicles might offer transportation to charmed imaginary worlds of fairy tales and children's adventure stories. But they are enigmatic. Looking as though they don't work, they actually do - but, we intuit, in eccentric and largely uncontrolled ways. We might have ideas about where we would go but these machines would have their own agendas.
But it is transportation of a less physical kind that gives us pause. In a characteristic paradox these whimsical vehicles provoke sober reflections on the human condition. There is a futility here that is all the more pungent for emerging in the apparent guise of English garden shed eccentricity. While these contraptions function mechanically and speak of great adventures - 'escapes' as the artist calls them - it is clear that they will not go far before breaking up, sinking or crashing, perhaps heroically. What is it from which they invite notions of escape? Why is the attempt futile? We each bring our own half resolved answers. It is Dobrowolski's considerable achievement that the particularities of these answers are irrelevant. We recognise something shared.
The vehicular imagery, owing much to Surrealism, of the TV series The Prisoner comes to mind - polite, strangely good-natured vehicles which rather underline, than offer escape from, imprisonment.