Ewa Partum, The Luncheon on the Grass, 1971/1997, photograph
review

Dedications. Fascinated with the Past

The exhibition “Dedications” at the Profile Foundation in Warsaw shows how the evoked artistic traditions function in contemporary socio-cultural contexts. The presented works indicate what was the impulse for their creation and how the given theories and artistic trends are processed on the ground of new media and innovative ways of imaging. The exhibition presents works by artists such as Michelangelo Caravaggio and Marcel Duchamp as reinterpreted by Polish avant-garde and contemporary artists, such as Andrzej Dłużniewski, Ewa Partum and Tomasz Ciecierski.

Andrzej Dłużniewski, Like Picabia, 1998, acrylic on canvas
Andrzej Dłużniewski, Like Picabia, 1998, acrylic on canvas
Józef Robakowski, from the Fetishes series, dedicated to Christo, 1987, photograph, vintage print
Józef Robakowski, from the Fetishes series, dedicated to Christo, 1987, photograph, vintage print
Alicja Karska & Aleksandra Went, Franciszek Duszeńko: Monuments, 2012 – 2013, instalation (detail)
Alicja Karska & Aleksandra Went, Franciszek Duszeńko: Monuments, 2012 – 2013, instalation (detail)

The exhibition consists of paintings, installations, collages and photographs documenting happenings and works in the field. In addition, the entire exhibition is accompanied by a film featuring the artists, who talk about the works on display, the reasons and circumstances of their creation. Of particular note are the installations; “Copy of Marcel Duchamp’s Secret Noise” by Andrzej Dłużniewski is an obvious paraphrase of the 1916 work, “À bruit secret” (Secret noise). Dłużniewski made no secret of his fascination with Duchamp and the phenomenon of conceptual art. Like Duchamp, he often stressed that art is first and foremost joy and that creativity should not be categorised or limited. The balls of string presented by the artists (in Duchamp’s case, the string is between two metal plates) reflect the idea of readymades, the domain of which is the shift of interest from the creative process and the work of art to readymade objects that became art at the will of the artist and not by virtue of fulfilling aesthetic categories.

Józef Robakowski, from the Fetishes series, dedicated to Christo, 1987, photograph, vintage print
Józef Robakowski, from the Fetishes series, dedicated to Christo, 1987, photograph, vintage print

I found the work of the tandem of Alicja Kraska and Aleksandra Went “Franciszek Duszeńko – Monumenty” very sentimental and moving. The eponymous Duszeńko was a sculptor and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk. The impulse to create this work was a visit to the artist’s studio, which, as it turned out, hid many never-before-shown sculptural and drawing works. The multitude of these works testified to the extraordinary diligence of Duszeńko, who, despite a lack of commissions, meticulously worked and “remained on standby.” Kraska and Went created installations in the spirit of the memorial. The installation consists of filigree sculptural sketches by Duszeńko enclosed in wooden boxes.

We built houses for each of the sculptures, and the house for the sculptures is the gallery. We enclosed the form of the house in a crate for transporting the objects, so here the metaphor is closed.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition are two great paintings by Ryszard Waśko, “Darkness into Light” and “Holistic Image”, whose textured canvases and monumental size make it impossible to pass by indifferently. I have to admit that at first the inspiration of the Unistic forms of Władysław Strzemiński was not quite obvious. Besides, Waśko himself admitted that although the paintings refer to Strzemiński’s idea of Unism, the very structure of the painting, the way of laying down colour, “leading the movement” on the canvases are clearly different. In Strzemiński’s case, the compositions are much more steady, the paint is flatly and evenly applied to the canvas, which makes the works coherent and uniform. Waśko’s paintings, depending on the position of the viewer, change their structure and seem dynamic, in constant motion. Relief surfaces create the impression of three-dimensionality of the canvases.

Tomasz Ciecierski, Dedicated to Sam Francis, 2021, collage
Tomasz Ciecierski, Dedicated to Sam Francis, 2021, collage

For those who are still wondering what is the essence of conceptual art, I recommend the work “The Luncheon on the Grass” by Ewa Partum. The artist considered Eduard Manet’s legendary work “The Luncheon on the Grass” (which caused one of the biggest scandals in the history of art) as the key to understanding the idea of conceptual art. Interpreting it in a conceptual way, Partum abandoned figuration and focused on a tautological rendering of the idea. The exhibition features photographs from the “Dreamers Convention” in 1971 in Elblag, where the work was presented. The artist painted the inscription “The Luncheon on the Grass” on the green grass with white paint. As Alicja Kępińska put it, Partum captured the essence of conceptual art, the inscription is what Manet’s figurative painting was meant to convey, the so-called message. It is a work of art about art, about art history, art about art.

Jarosław Kozłowski, from the Exercises in Imaging series, Hommage à Jerzy Ludwiński, 2018, watercolor on paper
Jarosław Kozłowski, from the Exercises in Imaging series, Hommage à Jerzy Ludwiński, 2018, watercolor on paper

If you are a fan of chiaroscuro and caravagionism, the works of Eve Harabasz are worth your attention. The artist was inspired by photographs placed in newspapers. Harabasz noted the connotations between Caravaggio’s paintings and contemporary newspaper photographs. In both cases, harsh light is directed at gestures and the most oppressive parts of the body. In the artist’s works from the series “Prasoreligia” and “Rescuers in Cana,” the light brings out inert feet or bound hands from the darkness. The technique chosen by the artist has a very individual character. The base is made up of press stills, which were printed onto canvases, then painted over with black and blurred with pencil. As a result, the works resemble Caravaggio’s religious paintings. The drama expressed through body language, a non-verbal system of communication, evokes associations with the photographs of Zbigniew Dłubak, who in the mid-1970s photographed the hands or legs of models posed as figures from famous paintings.

Ryszard Waśko, Dark into Light, 1987, acrylic on wood
Ryszard Waśko, Dark into Light, 1987, acrylic on wood
read also "Loro" (Them),Krzysztof Wodiczko

How To Give A Voice To “Invisible Citizens” Performance of drones on inclusion, citizenship and marginality

Contemporary Lynx Team Jun 06, 2019

Krzysztof Wodiczko’s socially-considerate work continuous to gain momentum and relevance, at least as much as it did decades ago. “Loro” (Them) is a multimedia installation and performance which uses the most innovative technologies to investigate the impact of immigration on the native population and give voice to the so-called “invisible citizens”.

In addition, the exhibition features dedications to avant-garde artists in the form of collages by Tomasz Ciecierski. On each work, the artist placed photographs of a particular artist, accompanied by press clippings and his own handwritten drawings in the form of symbols with which they were associated. The series is complemented by the cheerful and playful aura of Ciecierski’s work. Consideration of conceptual art is also developed by Jarosław Kozłowski and his “Exercises in Imagery”. The artist confronts viewers with a question of an eternal dispute among art historians – to what extent do universals exist objectively and to what extent do we give them meaning? Is the viewer influenced by the value hidden in individual images, or does everyone value art in an individual way, resulting from their own competence and sensitivity? In this case, Kozłowski demonstrates the duality of art. He accepts the thesis that something is an image or not, depending on our individual relationship to what we look at. At the exhibition, along with the works of Krzysztof Wodiczko, there is a constructivist theme and the issue of line in art is present. Line as a carrier of progress, a guideline not only in art, but also in the political and social world. It is not without reason that there was a tendency to use Constructivism in political and propaganda content. 

Ewa Partum, The Luncheon on the Grass, 1971/1997, photograph
Ewa Partum, The Luncheon on the Grass, 1971/1997, photograph

The exhibition provides an opportunity to read art history in the context of the present. The collected works testify to the circularity of art, the fact that works from the distant and nearer past permeate contemporary art culture. It is a kind of aesthetic experience in which the viewer learns about the artists’ reflections on the present, but also revisits issues from predecessors by reinterpreting them. “Dedications” is not about showing correlations, but about citation, in which the same is no longer the same. It is an exhibition worth seeing!

Krzysztof Wodiczko, Line as a Theory, Object, Reality and Image, 1976, photograph, vintage print
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Line as a Theory, Object, Reality and Image, 1976, photograph, vintage print

DEDICATIONS

Natalia Brandt, Tomasz Ciecierski, Andrzej Dłużniewski, Mirosław Filonik, Ewa Harabasz, Alicja Karska i Aleksandra Went, Jarosław Kozłowski, Ewa Partum, Józef Robakowski, Ryszard Waśko, Krzysztof Wodiczko

24.06.22–17.09.2022

Profile Foundation

More

Natalia Brandt, Delayed Conversations With Kurt Schwitters, 2010, assamblage
Natalia Brandt, Delayed Conversations With Kurt Schwitters, 2010, assamblage

About The Author

Julia
Gorlewska

Art historian with a bachelor's degree at the University of Warsaw and currently she is finishing her studies of art history at Humboldt University in Berlin. Curator’s assistant of the exhibition in Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw. Intern at the Pomada Festival. Member of the team — Desa Modern Gallery.

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