April 7 – April 11, 2016
The Springtime exhibition is the effect of a series of subsequent events sometimes totally random, difficult to explain on the rational level, often intriguing, but sometimes also sad. Spotting Edward Narkiewicz’s painting by coincidence was the starting point for the whole story. The death of Wojciech Skrodzki who was to write an introduction to the exhibition and be its co-curator is its most unpredictable and tragic moment. For Wojciech Skrodzki Narkiewicz was an important artist whose works he often referred to in his texts, while Alex Urso’s and Grzegorz Kozera’s output is perceived by the critic as the young generation’s return to threads and problems which he found very vital in art.
The transcendent relation between human beings and nature on an almost spiritualist level present in Narkiewicz’s works, especially their shamelessly exhibitory, hyperrealist format, is something truly extraordinary in the context of contemporary Polish art. Hence, close personal relations that Narkiewicz had with such individuals as Henryk Stażewski, Edward Krasiński, Koji Kamoji or Mariusz Tchorek and his presence over many years at the Foksal gallery with his exhibitions seem to be even more intriguing. The artistic output of Grzegorz Kozera and Alex Urso – each in its own unique way – also opens up to figuration and imagery related to nature with a strong emphasis on the never-ending cycle of life and death attributed to it.
Edward Narkiewicz wanted to live for a hundred years, and then come back from the outer space to the Earth.
Wojciech Skrodzki died on March 8, 2016. Spring has started in Warsaw…
Following please find excerpts from two Wojciech Skrodzki’s texts that have never been published so far – on Edward Narkiewicz, written in 2012 and on Alex Urso’s and Grzegorz Kozera’s works, written in 2015.
Edward Narkiewicz – my very strange friend
Sometimes I wonder who among my artist friends, namely Jan Karwot, Henryk Błachnio or Edzio Narkiewicz, was the most eccentric. And I guess it was probably the latter not only because of the way in which he constructed the form, but also because of his mindset in general.
I met Edzio Narkiewicz after his first exhibition and an article about him written by Andrzej Kostołowski that I published in the ‘Współczesność’ biweekly, which I was a truly self-sufficient editor of at the artistic section from October 1967 until its closure (…) I still remember a small, oblong folder for that exhibition with the reproduction of Edzio’s ‘Let’s look at watches’ painting. It featured a one-page Edzio’s self-biography, which was meant to be fictional. In the final part Edzio wrote that after a hundred years he came back from the outer space to the Earth and did not find any of his friends among the living anymore and felt ‘very sad’. I remember that Andrzej Kostołowski quoted this sentence in his text, attaching particular importance to it.
At that time I also paid my first visit to Edzio’s place in Piaseczno. Back then he lived with his wife (and probably also already with the son) in a detached shapeless one-story pavilion in a palace park. I had an impression that one of the rooms was added to rest, and Edzio told me that huge planks on the polished floor were laid directly on the ground. The entire place, especially this room, was terribly cold and humid. In this additional room I spotted something I assumed to be one of Edzio’s early works. It was truly horrifying in its mechanism, and was not mentioned in writings about him. It looked like a head or rather a skull in the form of a silver sphere ca. 50 cm in diameter, placed on an 80 centimetre pole. The ‘silver’ was made of tinfoil forming two deep dents that cast a shadow, evoking associations with eye sockets. I do not believe there was any other articulation to that sphere. The effect of the entire work was additionally strengthened by the fact that the sphere was covered with some sort of ‘fur’ made of needles placed closely to one another and ‘growing out’ of the sphere-shaped head. I still cannot forget the impression that this most outstanding work made on me. I did not see it anymore in Edzio’s new apartment, and somewhat I did not inquire about it. But I wish I had, because it was probably one of his greatest works of art.
Edzio also designed illustrations to the catalogue for my exhibition at Galeria Krytyków (now ‘Pokaz’), which I personally called ‘erotic’, and entitled ‘Hommage to Andrzej Matynia’ (May 1978 r.). It was a rather schematic portrait of me, either drawn or painted, with an enormous, heavy nose and a drop falling from it.
At least at the beginning of his career Edzio lived off making illustrations for some nature and forest publications (the so-called ‘beetle’ atlas) and mastered it to the level of extraordinary perfection which had considerable impact on his later paining. He praised one of his works in the following way: “Wojciech, this is nothing but sodomy. Those beetles do not belong to the same species”. I broke my relation with Edzio during the martial law in 1983 because of various traumas of mine.
Wojciech Skrodzki, July 20, 2012
Towards Figuration / Alla Figura
It might seem strange that today when so many neo avant-garde initiatives, especially of the constructive and creative type have defined the facet of art, a return to nature might still serve as the source of new inspiration for young artists. But we can more and more often come across the search for new inspirations in the visual contact with nature and human figure. But it is by no means a simple turn towards figurativeness. This new quality of the turn taken up by two artists represented here consists in playing a game with the very idea of figurativeness as such, a game which is played by each of them in an entirely different way. Alex Urso’s collages and assemblages present a meticulously reflected fragment of the world of nature, whereas what counts the most in Grzegorz Kozera’s works is the search for the contact with human presence.
Alex Urso’s reference to nature is highly multi-layered. The artist interested in the criticism of visual products, involves in works in which fiction and reality co-exist, introducing a misunderstanding between the world of illusion and realness.
In his three-dimensional works Urso questions flat and static paintings, hanged on the wall and sanctified. He creates assemblages that force the observer to interact, to get inside. This is how a box replaces frames, becomes the beauty it criticises, a painting it undermines, leading everything towards extremely personal and parodist revision of kitsch.
Grzegorz Kozera focuses in his works on the one hand on himself, on experiencing the events of passing time, noted by subsequent collages. On the other, he talks about his fascination with a closer look at another person, experiencing their presence, just as if they were there beside him. If Grzegorz Kozera looks for inspiration in the past, this is by no means figurative tradition, but rather Dadaism noticeable particularly in the collage format.
Wojciech Skrodzki, 2015