No 1 (89) 2012
January - March

Mirrors Only...?

When in the mid 70's of the 20th century Polish conceptualism crossed subsequent borders of the image oriented and concept structure in photography - makings use of achievements in structuralism and semiotics - the new vanguard scene witnessed the appearance of Lucjan Demidowski.

Krzysztof Jurecki

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

Krzysztof Jurecki

THE WORK OF THIS ARTIST HAS BEEN INFLUENCED BY Zbigniew Dłubak's theoretical thought which was the then indicator of one of the currents in the Polish photo media approach. The Real - Apparent series (1974) by Demidowski that confronted a white chart with digits in one piece, undermined the credibility of one's perception related to mathematical perspective, since the chart - of different size in reality - altered and disturbed the perception.

Following this direction - i.e., the modernism inspired by rationalized art, such as minimal-art, landart and the earlier mentioned concept-art with due consideration for the aspects of documentary photography - Demidowski has been developing his style in the years to come. From today perspective one can say that he was close to the approach by Maciej Smoczyński who was more poetical, thus revealing the uncanny, if not sacral, nature of the world, and Zygmunt Rytka whose inter media projects were more "biology" oriented.

In 1974 Demidowski started to apply mirrors, and he has stayed true to them. These have remained a recognizable element of his extremely sublime pieces. What have mirrors offered? Certainly, they do more than just reflect symmetrical images of the world. They show the interpretation, by the same token they reflect spiritual, nostalgic and melancholic aspects, while making use of fragments of factual reality. In the 70's the artist pursued mainly the topic of poor backyards and portraits.

The "Images - Mechanical Photography" (1978/79) was a very interesting exhibition. Presented works have been made with the use of old, worn-out glass plates. The artist has copied "their" vanishing reality, thus reducing them to abstraction.

In the 1982-85 martial law period he made a monumental series of about 500 pieces entitled "The Stones of Freedom". This has been an attempt to illustrate the then Polish history, the metaphor of the times of struggle and the hope for independence. It is worth to note a diversified approach to stones to make them express their lasting qualities.

The "Mirrors" series (1986-87) goes back to the same period. In the course of a prolonged exposition, the artist was strongly rocking the mirror not only to get a deformed image, but also a dream like effect distant from the mimesis category. Thus, the representation layer has bordered on surrealism. Besides, he has offered photographs close to the "elementary photography" trend, where the beams of light developed geometrical structures, while fragmentarily depicted reality of a detail met the vision of minimalart.

In 1988 the Photo-Medium-Art Gallery showed the "Rising from Silence" installation resembling the analytical and conceptual thought by Jan Berdyszak or Rytka. Demidowski has juxtaposed a torn photograph with a stone, suggesting a shadow, a hole, a transparent form thus showing an investigative approach. As a result, he has achieved a very interesting post conceptual form.

The "Illusory Images" from the 90's - containing a triangle mirror, transcendent in concept, placed in the space of a winter landscape - illustrate the reflected and symmetrically perfect reality. A different shape mirror applied in the same series, this time the rectangular, "merged" with the reflected reality showing a surprising outline of a door.

It is astonishing that the artist has achieved visual effects belonging to several stylistics - finally, landart being most significant - by very simple means. Two mirrors applied in one photograph offered yet another sign combination which was a result of connecting two reflections (2003-2004). This conceptual oriented output, with sparsely administered scale of the author's emotions - which in itself is a rare phenomenon - can be further interpreted in terms of semiotics. This has been an evidence for the artist's insight into the investigation of the poetics of reality and into rules governing the analytical art.