No 2 (82) 2010
April - June

Catcher in the Meanings

Ryszard Woźniak wonders what would have happened, if one changed the context of various figures frozen on photographs. What if they were taken out from the “emanation of the passed reality” in which they had been immersed, and transposed into the space of a picture?

Zofia Jabłonowska-Ratajska

Art historian, she lives and works in Warsaw.

Zofia Jabłonowska-Ratajska

A VERY SPECIAL PICTURE, since it has been constructed from letters, words between words. Further, these characters could be introduced to an "actual" space of human thought. To be more exact, into fragments of works by Stanisław Dróżdż.

In this, different reality, anything is possible, anything can exist in a different way, while each element of this reality exceeds hitherto meanings. A woman gets a new, black-and white - like in a picture by Dróżdż - head of a zebra. A photographer - who captured her posing for a photo - puts on a mask of a skull, adopting a role as though from a Medieval mystery play; a link with the non-existence or eternal life.

This is just the beginning of the game. The picture "A Figure and Background" (and "A Photographer") have been a kind of an entrance opening a new way of seeing and a new way of creation for Woźniak. This method has allowed for a borrowing gesture and some detachment - without the need to create from a scratch. Thus, he could pass over subsequent reflections; beginning with the true reality, followed by the reproduced reality, and next the reality of a picture. He started with silhouettes and characters seen in an attractive and multidimensional artistic proposal by Stanisław Dróżdż, and combined them applying a precise technical method.

The majority of photographs, that inspired the composition development - according to the artist - "document the presence of various objects or persons against the background of two pieces by Stanisław Dróżdż; "Between" and "From To". These have been modified by a computer and transferred onto the canvas. A picture within a picture, the abstract and concrete, the meaning dependant on the artist's gesture and on context. Quoting Roland Barthes... "Photography can cheat only about the meaning of something, since by nature it is biased, but photography never lies about the existence of something".

Thus, one knows that Joanna Mytkowska and other photographed characters do exist. We do not know, however, how they will behave and what role they will adopt as pronouns put among the signs by Stanisław Dróżdż. Will they rummage among letters, like the artist and director, who has put there his actors.

Rummaging, as an approach, does not seem to be unusual. Today, it is a common practice: one browses through countless information in the internet, in real and virtual world.

We live among fragments, our cognition is fragmentary. We know what we managed to put together out of bits and pieces. Why art should be different? It happens to be like on the picture by Dróżdż, where one can find reflections, words, letters. Fortunately, the fragmentation into independently functioning parts leads frequently to a new composition. One collects these bits and reproduces them in new order, so as to strengthen their meaning and impact.

"Pictures originate everywhere, to the mind they come later" - Ryszard Woźniak has written. And - regardless of the method - he has remained a painter. He has turned over in a specific way or rather expanded this unique revelation that was an experience of man who had painted the first picture; in other words, closed the world within a rectangle of a canvas. He has opened this picture for us, and introduced us into its space. Nevertheless, he has remained aside, as a painter of "impersonal gestures". He has intensified the essence combining painting material - by means of the work by Dróżdż - with sounds. He has been scattering letters, searching for words, if not thoughts to be developed. He has invited one to join a certain conceptual game which does not result in painting ideas, but in painting concrete evidence. In this game, one must find one's place "in", "behind", "in front", "from to" or in between.

One does not know, however, where the artist is; how much he has been inside, and how much he has been controlling the game. To what extent he has been influenced by the haphazard of the dice throw? This is the way of painting, but also the way of thinking: existence, reflection, recording, passing...

Ryszard Woźniak, "Rummaging", Appendix 2, Warsaw, December 2009 - February 2010.