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'Man is a Piece of Art'.

A solo exhibition of works by Natalia Rybka

Van Rij Gallery. Ćmielów
October 14,2023 - January 13,2024

October 14, 2023 January 13, 2024

On 14 October at 3 pm, Van Rij Gallery, located in the old porcelain factory in Ćmielów, will host the first solo exhibition of Natalia Rybka’s paintings.

The harshness of the halls of the post-industrial space will be tempered by flora, fauna and wildlife. The exhibition ‘Man is a Piece of Art’ will present several works created over the past two years. The curator of the exhibition is Katarzyna Rij.

Natalia Rybka’s works are filled with meanings. References to iconography are mixed with philosophical concepts in her paintings. The artist touches on the topic of social exclusion in her paintings and wonders who or what gives human life meaning. She “dresses” the difficult but extremely important themes in nature and floristics. The symbolism of plants becomes a formal means of softening the bitterness of the message. Among the paintings is a reinterpretation of Caravaggio’s classic portrait, ‘The Sick Bacchus’, painted between 1593 and 1594. The artist searches for emotions in the people portrayed by Caravaggio and expresses them symbolically in her work. This painting is the central artwork referred to in the exhibition’s title. Also presented at the exhibition will be several other reinterpretations of works by classics of old painting, including Henryk Siemiradzki. Inspired by the painter’s work, the painting Woman or Vase depicts a scene of the purchase of a young slave girl by a Roman patrician. The work addresses the problem of the subjective treatment of women and their position in society.

Together with the artist, curator Katarzyna Rij discusses problems related to the origin, culture or tradition of the place where we were born. In doing so, she highlights the fact that the views and beliefs that have shaped us are to a large extent the result of the above contexts. Moreover, the exhibition suggests that the context in which we have grown up determines our behaviour, decisions and even values. Natalia Rybka’s works reach the viewer in three layers: the first is a cautiously and attentively, melancholy rendering of nature, which catches the eye of the viewer and attracts them, inviting them to interpret the second layer – a narrative story about the message of the painting. It tells about the problem of suffering, isolation or sadness resulting from socio-cultural causes. The third is the emotional-spiritual layer, in which the artist likes to reach for philosophical-psychological ideas, connecting the message of the work with the spirituality of the individual.

The exhibition will be open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until 13 January 2024, free entrance.


Van Rij Gallery began its activities with a bold step – the inaugural exhibition of works by Lubomir Tomaszewski (1923 – 2018) took place at the Palace the Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then, it has continuously attracted the attention of art enthusiasts and critics, presenting works that combine tradition with modernity. The gallery is located in two spaces in Poland: in Cmielow, within the old porcelain factory halls, and in Old Town in Krakow. It is a member of the international organization CINOA and the Association of Polish Antiquarians and Art Dealers. One of the key elements of the gallery’s program is its commitment to promoting gender equality and eliminating areas of discrimination. Through diverse perspectives, the gallery creates a space where tradition and modernity, past and present, intertwine. It is a space where the artist is like a mirror, reflecting the changing world and societal challenges.

Collaborating with esteemed Polish and international artists such as Paweł Orłowski, Lubomir Tomaszewski, Tamara Berdowska, Natalia Rybka, Olga Ząbroń, Rafał Olbiński, Józef Wilkoń, as well as Masakazu Miyanaga, Dmytro Shaval or Rogério Timóteo, is not only an honor but also evidence of the trust the gallery has earned over the years. Van Rij Gallery not only exhibits their works but also provides them with space for development and expression of their ideas showed by artworks. Constantly expanding its activities, the gallery participates in international art fairs, allowing its artists to gain recognition on the global stage. Simultaneously, through its publishing activities, it promotes their artistic achievements.

The latest program of the gallery focus on interdisciplinary work and research into artistic practice. New initiatives, such as collaborations with guest curators or international exhibitions, allow for the establishment of even stronger relationships with public and private institutions, as well as the promotion of art as a tool for social dialogue.

Van Rij Gallery is a space for exhibitions where art merges with humanism, and where artists, through their art, bear witness to a changing world. A place where gender equality and diversity are valued, and innovation and tradition go hand in hand. It is not just a venue for presenting art; it is a space that shapes our culture and society.

ul. Sandomierska 243
Ćmielów, 27-440
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