No 1 (65) 2006
January - March

In Search for Stability

Shaky Balance, the exhibition by Magdalena Samborska at the Academic Gallery, has been a summary of several years of her efforts in the field of sculpting, painting and installation. Her assemblages, bordering between fashion and sculpture, have been referring to the tradition of pop culture and pop art.

Krzysztof Jurecki

B. in 1960. Art historian, AICA member. Lecturer at the Łódź Academy of Arts and Design.

Krzysztof Jurecki

The artist has been determined to provide a diagnosis – to dismember the world of a contemporary woman; a task not so simple and unambiguous, as it might seem. Artificial beauty is a mere act of dying It started in 2003, at the exhibition at the Bałucka Gallery in Łódź, where the work - in the form of a wallpaper made of a number of female magazine pages, with paintings in menstrual blood as a form of staffage for the whole display – has been presented. The Female Magazines Deconstruction series has, in an interesting way, contrasted two elements: female magazines placed directly on the floor, alluring with an illusion of artificial beauty, with three dimensional representation of the sculpture of a head borrowed from an illustration in a glossy magazine. An additional linguistic move involved putting quotes from commercials on the sculptures. In a great variety of forms, there have been shown human hybrids, resembling Orlan after famous cosmetic surgeries, struggling with a scalpel to maintain an illusion of the everlasting beauty. Instead, it has been replaced by mummies, cyborgs, grotesque contemporary funeral portraits – even though devoid of the spiritual and sacral qualities – still giving a testimony on dying and unstable form of our existence. In The Female Magazines Deconstruction. Identity Labels (2004), referring to the Christian painting iconography (St. John the Baptist’s head) she presented famous movie stars’ and pop singers’ faces destined – by means of applying subtle irony - for consumption. Thus, she has been not merely fighting but also – in a specific way - administering justice to women connected with mass media and the world of advertising. Who is a coachman? The Girdles Harness – Escape (2000) - as she herself has written in the materials to the exhibition catalogue – “deals with the phantasms developed around domination and freedom”. The girdles have been presented in the form referring to a horse cart, approached as an element of the times gone, reflecting more sophisticated culture. The horse cart is empty, it is not clear who is driving it. Certainly, it can be a woman but mostly, it has been a man. It has been imposed by history of art (the famous sculpture – A Coachman from Delft), as well as by tradition and culture. A man has been ever more secretive about trying to maintain his dominant position. The work can be watched from all sides, while the girdles themselves can be put on. Art and Life Paradoxes It has started with small dolls, slightly dadaist like; being to a certain extent tormented and destroyed, following surrealist trends. The act of destruction resulting from of a violent force, though Samborska have turned them into fetishes (just like Marek Piasecki did in the 50’s), not to mention a kind of personal jewelry. The artist has been also making monumental sculptures, out of characteristic red fabric, resembling feminine silhouettes floating in the space, breaking it with their bulk (Written into the Space, 2002). They remind the works by Niki de Saint Phalle, though they are more surrealist than ludic oriented. Wounds and Pain Her interest in sculpture has been partly rooted in cloth designing, marked with distinct traces of her overall artistic achievements. One can recognize and unmistakably point out the common features, combination of pure and applied art elements. Her cloths tell a story about injustice, wounds and scars; they are a sort of a metaphor of a human skin. Female way of portraying? Does female view on history of art differ from the dominant male one? This has been partly answered by Samborska. As this has not been enough, her painting is being simplified on purpose. It is, to some extent anti-painting, since it contains an intention to become a folk wall hanging. Inspired by the American feminists approach, the artist has included in The Paradoxes (2003) painting series text/rebuses, orchestrated with figurative imaging, borrowed from great painting topics – though presented merely in fragments – starting with Leonardo (“the more meaning I assign to you, the less meaning you have”), Titian, Michelangelo (“a sense of self-esteem based on negating oneself”). The artist has posed a question about pictures and their sense, and simultaneously about women, expressing her own, “other” , feministic outlook. For the above reasons, nearly from the very beginning, I have been a great fan of the art by Samborska who – in a unique manner – has been good in all areas. Magdalena Samborska, “The Shaky Balance”, the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Academic Gallery, Łódź, January – February 2006.