Karol Bak was born on 30 May 1961 in Koło in the Wielkopolska Region. He graduated from the Fine Arts High School of Poznań with a degree in Interior Exhibition Arrangement. In 1984, he was admitted to the Graphics Department of the State College of Art (currently the University of Arts in Poznań).
He already knew what direction he wanted to take in his studies – painting, graphics and sculpture were perceived as a prestigious pursuit of “searching for pure art.” He was confident he had made the best choice. He graduated in 1989 with distinction, with two degrees in Graphics, under Prof. Tadeusz Jackowski, and Drawing in the studio of Prof. Jarosław Kozłowski. He said this about his final examination:
I displayed my drawings and graphics for two thesis supervisors in two large rooms of the Poznań Artistic Exhibition Office. In my graphics, mainly using the technique of copperplate engraving, I attempted to express my perceptions of timeless content and values. By contrast, my large drawings reflected my reality at the time, as I searched for answers to a number of daunting and pressing questions. One of the drawings, measuring 2 x 8 meters, showed life-size members of the communist riot police in combat formation en face. They stood, contrasted with a horseshoe-shaped barricade of randomly arranged chairs, an “installation” of sorts. There was also a 3 x 3 meter self-portrait, based on the golden ratio – the canon of proportions first proposed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Both professors who supervised the artist in his two theses were strong influences on his art. Tadeusz Jackowski (born 1936) looked for illusion in his art, attempting to deceive the eye of the viewer.
He combined various techniques, some of the more unusual of which were engraving and hand-painting. Jarosław Kozłowski (born 1945) has been exhibiting his works since the late 1960s, mostly in installations relying on drawings, sound, light, photography and performance. He is associated with conceptual art and views art idealistically, as a domain of freedom, unrestrained by convention.
Karol Bak may well have adopted Tadeusz Jackowski’s love for graphics and drawing, as well as his penchant for illusion. Jarosław Kozłowski instilled in him the drive to create free art, which is then interpreted individually, in line with particular contexts.
He perfected his painting technique under Andrzej Maciej Łubowski of the Fine Arts High School and, once at the Academy, under Prof. Andrzej Kurzawski.