Transcendence of the Picture (2018)

A new text for the retrospective exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of my artistic work.

„In June, Luiza’s garden is in fullest bloom,
Its non-existence kills, like an axe“

Andrzej Bursa – Ogród Luizy / Luiza’s Garden

      This quote from Andrzej Bursa’s poem could be the motto of my whole artistic creation. In a perspicacious way, it defines the phenomenon of the transcendence of art which tries to be more than a banal, interim, journalistic illustration that is, unfortunately, so characteristic of many contemporary works of art. Recently I came across a short description of the theory of Walter Benjamin: “…In this analysis, Benjamin usually moves on the ‘further-closer’ scale. Auratic art assumes that contact will be direct, almost intimate; but it also involves the sense of a certain distance, i.e. timelessness. With non-auratic art (non-art), that can be copied on a massive scale it is the other way around: it destroys all distance (the possibility of transcendence). It belongs in the category of products that satisfy the low, mass need of the most banal, merchant-like POSSESSION”.

      The author of this critical text suggests that Benjamin’s theory has become archaic and a bit senseless in the context of the new media and the challenges that this presents for new art. This opinion is, unfortunately, quite characteristic of the circles related to the so-called Modern Art and Critical Art that Monika Małkowska very accurately referred to as “a very cultured mafia” a few years ago. Theoreticians representing this group believe, mistakenly, that the value of contemporary art is determined by its involvement in social or political matters. This way, they reduce such art to a role similar to that of the mass media which usually focus on temporary phenomena and daily matters. However, truly valuable art should strive for timelessness and transcendence (more about this in my other texts which can be found available on my website:

      My painting “The Paradoxical Polish Pyramid”(This image can be seen on my website) bears the many dates on which it was modified by me and it has a rather ‘paradoxical’ history. Around 1976, during my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Stanisław Poznański, my professor from the painting studio at the department of Graphic Art, invited me to participate in an exhibition marking yet another anniversary of Polish-Russian friendship. The professor, who I appreciated as a teacher, was entangled in the political reality of the day due to the pressure that the Polish United Workers’ Party exerted on the Academy of Fine Arts. He had to persuade some students to participate in the event. I painted quite an ironic, realistic picture which represented two children playing with models of spaceships (Soviet and American, because their spaceships had just connected in Space). I won First Prize, which made me both happy and amused. I kept the picture until December 1981 but then, on the 13th December when Martial Law was announced in Poland, in helpless anger I added the Polish flag to the picture. Later, after the ‘Round Table’ and the first free elections I started to paint a pyramid, in quite an optimistic mood, on the picture. Then the communists returned to power again so I painted a Malewich-like black square on the pyramid and gave the picture its current title. Frustrated with the situation in Poland – a situation which seemed increasingly paradoxical, I kept working on the piece almost until today. It has turned out that now it is the most poster-like of all my works so I decided to fixate it and hope it will survive in this form forever, even though the picture is very untypical of my work.