No 2 (90) 2012
April - June

Morphology of Feelings

We live in the era of great disappointments; frequently, the only hope is to demystify yet another… demystification. Even revolutionaries finally turn out to be opportunists. It seems that our public space has been generally shaped by the argument between cynics and hypocrites.

Sławomir Marzec

A painter and didactic. He writes texts on contemporary art.

Sławomir Marzec

THESE WHO WISH TO LIVE OBSERVING CERTAIN RULES or values become simply unadjusted to the "new" world organized by means of struggle of everybody against everybody, for everything, the only award is ....someone's defeat.

As a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts, I have wondered if it is not high time to stop telling my students about art, and start hammering marketing and psycho sociology textbooks into their heads. To teach them how to be controversial, scandalous and shocking so as to earn profits. I have refrained from this since I am aware that there are still some people who are courageous enough to think, live and create independently. Who do not succumb to the thoughtless ideas imposed by standards of the progressive, global, current; or on the other hand - to falsely interpreted "tradition". It seems that there is a new division growing, differentiating the "art by representatives" (of a given concept, sex, generation, etc.) and the art by single individuals.

In this sense, Paweł Nowak is undoubtedly a single artist. His exhibition, entitled "Transfusion", has been presented at the Warsaw Gallery XX1. Wax, for many years present in the works by this artist, has been an important element of this project. In this case, wax has been dyed red to strengthen associations with the carnal. Two expressively painted pictures have been hanged on the two opposite walls. They have been connected by a zigzag, multi layer red line of wax, resembling the ECG. The gallery space have been full of numerous glass casts of a human heart. These have been mounted on a narrow, metal bars, just at the height of our hearts. They have been put close to each other, separated merely by one step, one heartbeat. Yet, there has been a distance of 80 cm between them, marking the zone of one's privacy which - once trespassed - results in strong emotional reaction (positive or negative).

In fact, this sterile transparency is frightening. The game of fleeting reflexes and fragilities makes one feel overawe. The heart - surrounded by a gigantic cocoon of metaphors and meanings - invariably remains a symbol of what is the most precious, the most alive, the most intimate. Here, however, it has been motionless, impersonal, multiplied and waiting - as a project or a task - for realization. Eliot wrote once that love, as faith and hope, exist only in expectations.

The artist has contrasted here two different dimensions of human relations. The impersonality of our biology and the statistical impersonality of the PESEL numbers - belonging to us and our friends - entered into the pictures either discreetly or ostentatiously. The impersonality of identification, internal and external; while their union does not mean our presence. These do not enter into a dialogue with our feelings.

Nowak does not stop at this point. This visual anomy, perforce, directs our intuition towards the topics the artist has dealt with for years, i.e., dreams and love. In our dimensionless, post/modern world of radical reductionism, love is either a tear jerking kitsch, an animal instinct, or.... a form of political struggle. Meanwhile, it does not have to be like that. It is enough to reach to non reduction approach philosophies (not to mention religion). They discuss interdependencies of various forms and modalities of mind, also contained in our emotions or imagination. As a matter of fact, according to Plato love was the force aimed at the highest purpose. Further, a number of postmodern philosophers are apologists for the latter, for instance, Richard Rorty who states that anthropologists who shape the reality of today are "agents of love". Or Allan Badiou who argues that today truth is being generated by love (besides art, politics and science). Anyway, great Holderlin noticed centuries ago: "love makes one keep his eyes wide open". This is a good thing that Paweł Nowak has dared remind this.

Paweł Nowak, "Transfusion", the XX1 Gallery, Warsaw, March 2012.