No 4 (88) 2011
October - December

We Are All Dolls

The latest works by Sylwester Ambroziak, showed this passing summer, present characters with features typical of figures made by the artist in various materials and sizes; exhibited in Poland and abroad as of the mid 80's.

Michał Haake

Art historians, he works at University AM in Poznań.

Michał Haake

THEIR ANTHROPOID QUALITIES inevitably encourage viewers to compare them to their own carnality; starting with the size, through similarities and differences in body structure, musculature, etc. They represent neither humans, nor animals, nor aliens, nor anybody otherwise familiar. The figures by Ambroziak cannot be identified and self-contained. Their immanent approach turns them into mirrors for us to look at ourselves. The fact that they differ from us can be interpreted as our transformation, our - not their - deformation.

The difference between the characters and viewers has been intensified in the "Little Dolls". First of all, with regard to the size of bulky figures (their arms reach over two meters), whose huge heads are towering over us. Secondly, their postures are acutely stiff, the feature absent from the earlier pieces by the artist. So far, the creatures have been making various gestures: marching, cringing, carrying one another piggyback, dancing, etc. These figures; two "male" and two "female", merely stand on straightened legs in a straddle position; their hands put down, either slightly protruded, or leaned back. Their size, and eyes directed ahead and above viewers, eliminate a possibility of any relations with them, apart from "standing next to them". Immense bodies and heads, however, do not turn them into man threatening monsters, as in numerous myths and pop culture; starting with Cyclops, through a gorilla - King Kong prototype - abducting a woman in a popular 19th century story. Further, there are no ties between the characters. There are no couples. One of the male figures has turned back to others on the exhibition in Bydgoszcz. "Female" figures, though facing one another, are too indifferent to strike any closer contact.

Red and pink - the colors I do not remember from the earlier output by Ambroziak - are not an aesthetic factor. On the contrary, they add to peculiar, specific message voiced by this artist for the first time; make it explicit. Palms deprived of any fingers and opened - or rather shaped to form a round hole - lips contribute to this atmosphere. Most of the earlier sculptures by Ambroziak also lacked fingers. Nevertheless, the gestures they made - embracing, pointing out, holding, even putting helplessly their hands down - fully justified the lack. One had an opportunity to focus on the essence of a gesture. In this case, the lack of fingers is significant. Hands are simply useless, redundant for action. The hands, however, are not completely numb; when protruded - they are ready to be grasped, while leaning back connotes submissiveness. Thus, the huge creatures seem absolutely harmless. Their flexibility and submissiveness make them - regardless of their size - eager to be used as inanimate objects.

Open mouths remain silent. They are too small to scream. Prominent, as though rolled into a tube, ready to catch something. The stiffness of posture, straddled legs, submissiveness, red color, opened lips with no sound coming out - all these inevitably bring to my mind, among others, a symbol of a sex doll. One can also see them as being transformed into doll like creatures that still have something in common with us, the viewers. They help us, the initiated, to see analogies of our position and recognize it. It is hard to find more straightforward - than indicated in the work by Ambroziak - reference to ever growing object oriented and instrumental nature of human relations. Its impact originates in the experience that takes place in our minds and carnal aspects. It essentially differs from what wise guys say - in universities and in artistic practice - quoting standby authorities.

Sylwester Ambroziak, "Glass Beads", the Artistic Exhibitions Bureau Town Gallery, Bydgoszcz, July-September 2011.