Museum of Contemporary Sculpture
“The urge to create visions…”
27th May – 17th September 2017
Museum of Contemporary Sculpture
Curator: Grzegorz Musiał, Signum Foundation
Coordinator: Leszek Golec, CRP Orońsko
Participants: Elias Crespin, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Wojciech Fangor, Paweł Grobelny, Mikołaj Grospierre, Bethan Huws, Kimsooja, Lin Yi, Michał Martychowiec, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Jesus Rafael Soto, Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, Ludwig Wilding, Chi Tsung Wu
Exhibition organized in cooperation with the Signum Foundation
The exhibition found its inspiration, and its title, in Stefan Themerson’s essay from 1936. The author was mainly interested in the problems of artistic film, which he pioneered in Poland. Together with his wife Franciszka they created films on the base of various unconventional methods. You might even hazard a guess that in those days they were multimedia artists.
In the exhibition at the Orońsko museum, artistic film is one of the media, however the experiments connected with the moving image, light, using space and optical effects preoccupy other artists whose works are presented in the varied museum spaces.
The exhibition has the form of collage which comprises a mosaic arranged on several levels of experimenting with the widely understood visuality. It is a record of historical and contemporary artistic practices which engage our imagination in a definitely more active way.
The 20th century created a new reality in art, which transcended the boundaries of the area previously associated with it. Artists soon questioned the traditional canons that had been valid for too long. They no longer aimed to reflect reality in various ways, but to create a new one using the capacities of scientific achievements and the technology dynamically developing in the first half of the 20th century.
As a consequence, artists have crossed all the possible boundaries in their activities. The exhibition motto is Michał Martychowiec’s neon work from the series The Daily Questions. The laconic question How Far Can You See makes us reflect on how far our imagination can reach. Is what we can see at a given moment at the exhibition only ‘play for the eye’ or is it a far deeper reflection on the sense of active participation in the process along the line artist- work- viewer.
The presentation takes over several museum spaces, in which artists conduct a special dialogue with one another and also with the context of the place, for instance in the case of works by Mikołaj Grospierre (installation TATTARRATTAT at Józef Brandt’s Palace), Paweł Grobelny (installation Le Mouvement in the park space) and Carlos Cruz-Diez (iconic light installation Chromosaturation from 1965) presented in the chapel, for which the artist made a special project in 2017.
The chronological link for the exhibition is the space in which Franciszka and Stefan Themerson’s photograms from 1929-1930 are shown. They were used by the artists as a film material with the use of a specially constructed trick or animation table. They were juxtaposed with the large format, digital pictures of Taiwanese artist Lin Yi. Using computer programmes, he makes abstract compositions which in fact are not abstract images but a new virtual reality.
Subsequent spaces are devoted to kinetic art and optical experiments. The early works of Jesus Rafael Soto and Ludwig Wilding remind us of the originators of new tendencies in the 20th century art: kinetic art and op-art.
Elias Crespin is a contemporary Venezuelan artist using the experiences of kinetic art. He makes mobile sculptures hung in space. Geometrical figures – in this case the circle and the square, which has additional connotations connected with the interwar avant-garde – are fluently evolving from one form to another, creating completely new, spatial configurations.
Two adjacent rooms present an interesting relationship built by the works of artists from completely dissimilar cultural areas and the time of creation. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s film Ein Lichtspiel schwarz weiss grau was made in 1930 with the use of a light modulator and space, the kinetic sculpture on which the artist had been working since 1922. It is a recording of the unlimited number of effects you could obtain by using electrically powered modulator.
Chi-Tsung Wu’s installation, which is an extended version of his work Crystal City, is a contemporary interpretation of the historical modulator. It shows a different, invisible world consisting of electronic equipment, programmes, networks, media and information which the artist calls ‘the crystal city’.
The Welsh artist Bethan Huws presents a neon, monochromatic work White, Grey, Black which is situated between history and the present times. Bethan Huws’ artistic practice focuses on the study of language both in the context of history of art and the contemporary means of communication. She translates the results of her studies onto various media: interventions, objects and first of all – textual works.
Another form of an inter-generation dialogue is created by Wojciech Fangor’s early paintings juxtaposed with Michał Martychowiec’s contemporary, analogue photographs. Fangor’s centric, abstract paintings from the mid-60s are a development of the artist’s previous concepts in which the spatial relations between pictures were more important than the pictures themselves. Contour-free transition of colours gives the effect, as the artist wrote, ‘of positive illusory space’. It is in this context that Michał Martychowiec’s large format photographs from the series Blue are presented. The monochromatic frames of cloudless sky, which the artist has been photographing since 2013 in various places all over the world, pose a question: what is the colour blue? – a boundless space, a universal dream about combining the past with the present or an image which does not succumb to the passage of time? The blue in his works is invisible, becoming visible, it has no limitation of dimensions and becomes the universe.
The work of Korean artist, Kimsooja, may be interpreted in similar problem areas. The four-channel video installation A Mirror Woman: the Sun and the Moon was created in 2004 on the island Goa in India. The sun and the moon complement each other, creating a Yin and Yang relation which has its source in the ancient Chinese philosophy. It describes two primitive and contradictory forces that make up the universe. The mutual effect between Yin and Yang is the reason for creating all things.
The same artist’s series of photographs The Sun – Unfolded from 2008, is in the context of this exhibition a symbolic afterimage which we hope will remain in the viewers’ memories.
Stefan Themerson ended his historical essay with a statement-question: “The new avant-garde will come. I know what I would like from it. I would like it to make what I would like to see. And I would like to see clear, rational, common-sense, visual statements. But what it should do is not at all what I want to see. It should do what its own need to create visions will force it to do”.