No 2 (94) 2013
April - June

Spaces and Lights

The exhibition by Tomasz Zawadzki, hold in the Lublin Museum, offers a proper dramatic effect and meaning, once we acknowledge that today pictures painting - if approached seriously - is a heroic effort.

Sławomir Marzec

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

Sławomir Marzec

AS LONG AS A PICTURE IS NOT MEANT AS A PRODUCT, a media event or political re-indoctrination. In this case, one has to face the world that considers painting an anachronism, a naēve - if not harmful - act, a camouflage of "current problems" (that is... current trends).

His oeuvre has followed the tradition of the constructive reductionism. This has been an extraordinary type of reductionism - paradoxical, if not magic, directed to expand, not to limit our realit y as other radical trends proceed. His radical approach intensif ies the ungraspable or imperceptible phenomena and ramifications. Fur ther, Zawadzki has a surprising predilection for basic, universal elements of painting, i.e., space, color, light. And he has constantly been tr ue to these. Thus, he has rejected an illusion of depth, expression, symbols and signs for the sake of smooth plains and vertical/ horizont al contours. So, a number of his pictures have been a result of squares enriched with rhythm and ornamentation.

This calmness, however, ha s bee n m erely apparent, as Stefan Gierowski noticed: "Stronger expres sion is contained withi n the maximum o f composure". After all, the abstract painting opens a new perspective: it gets involved neither in a direct game with one's imagination, nor in the active search for culmination, contradictions, moments of weakness or fulfillment. Thus, it is like an initiation, quasi rhythmical repetition of defined forms and patterns. This is the initiation into a specif ic type of sensitivity and imagination that replaces the form and content. In the work by Zawadzki one can also obser ve repetitive gestures and recollection of certain patterns. He has been striking a game with what is essential, universal and obvious; and by the same token ... schematic.

He has occasionally happened to be fascinated with the painting of matter and gesture; extensive, pure palettes frequ ent ly accompanie d wi th rich textures. His painting plains have never been empty. They have always vibrated with inner tensions, subtle penumbras on grainy textures. He has been persistent in ostentatious ignoring a common today prejudice that a picture can be reduced to its verbal interpretation.

The exhibition has clearly proved that the pictures by Zawadzki have been evolving. He started in the mid eighties showing a considerable expressive pathos. He searched for a contrast to a single color - its opposite, a counterpoint or supplement. The hue versus a given scale, the hue versus size, the hue versus texture, space, a stretcher size or the size of several stretchers put together. Similarly, the hue versus another h ue. Later he turned to mo nochromatic palette, especially to extremely energetic greens full of vital power. A uniform color written into the form of a picture reduced to a square or a rectangle. The artist has declared a number of times that he has been interested in a self-sufficient picture, the picture being a sign of itself. Thus, the appearing lines have not been transformed into f igures and symbols, instead they have been developing the tension of space. Picture plains have been turning ever more complex, with regular geometric sequences and multi layer, specific textures - typical of the latest decade - that resemble curtains opening onto the folds of other spaces. All these, however, have still functioned as a specif ic t ype of or namentation. Later inner divisions - starting with single lines through complex multi element arrangements - have been playing ever greater part. More and more often his pictures have been expanding into the real space.

In spite of the above, Zawadzki has stayed tr ue to the energy of pure archetyp ical palette; selfcontained, never compl emented or justified with a theory or nar ration. He seems to repeat in the painting language the theor y by Faber Birren, one of the most important psychologist of seeing, that colors mean content and consciousness.

Tomasz Zawadzki, "Note on the Painting. Selection of the 1995-2012 Works", the Lublin Museum, Lublin, October- December 2012.