Sylwia Makris:
The 7 Virtues

8 May – 31 October 2022

In her second collaboration with the Peter Janssen Collection, Sylwia Makris presents the seven virtues of Bushidō (武士道, "the way of the warrior") in fourteen impressive scenes on large format canvases. Famous historical events and legends form the backdrop to this reflection on the samurai code of conduct and invite viewers to reflect on the often blurred boundaries between myth and reality.

The Bushidō code of conduct consists of guiding principles that have been passed down orally over generations and whose influence extends into contemporary Japanese culture and philosophy. Loyalty and honour are at the centre. Seven female and seven male figures were chosen to each embody the virtues of Bushidō in meticulously staged photographic compositions with painterly undertones. In her work, Sylwia Makris questions the idealised conception of Bushidō by playing with the traditional notions of samurai and creating a pictorial tension between concepts of pride and humility, strength and sensuality, attack and retreat, as well as power and powerlessness.

Sylwia Makris’ artistic practice of extensive digital image processing as well as meticulous treatment of the printed canvases with varnishes, colour pigments and waxes, which lends her work an impressive materiality. This skilful design echoes the extraordinary craftsmanship of the Japanese tradition of the objects depicted.

Armours and objects from the Peter Janssen Collection lend a realistic appearance of the mystical scenes. In order to set up the scenes realistically, Sylwia Makris worked closely with the Samurai Museum Berlin. The artist was particularly fascinated by the possibility of assigning new wearers to these artefacts from past times, thus breathing new life into them.


Sylwia Makris was born in 1973 in Gdynia, Poland and currently lives in Munich. After completing her education at the art college Gdynia Orłowo School of Art in Poland, she worked as a sculptor, eventually finding her way to photography. In her works, Makris combines photography with traditional techniques from painting and sculpture. Selected exhibitions: Galerie für Gegenwartskunst, Munich; Underdog Gallery, London; Last Rites Gallery, New York, and Plenum, Gdańsk.