CO OCZY WIDZIAŁY
04.04.2019 — 31.05.2019
CO OCZY WIDZIAŁY – JAROSŁAW MODZELEWSKI (04.04.2019 — 31.05.2019)
What eyes have seen (or about the paintings that wanted to be painted)
“When I look at my pictures, I notice that the overwhelming majority of them are the result of observation, or rather the result of a very concrete observation of a situation that took place in real time and place.” * The artist is still faithful to this sentence, uttered many years ago, because it is the events he notices that become the reason and the pretext for which he constantly makes an effort to paint. Although he immortalizes ordinary people in their natural surroundings, focused on the activity they perform, on the canvas, he treats the landscape itself very conventionally, choosing only those elements that he considers necessary for the “location” of people and animals. It’s important not to take them out of their natural context, not to take away their aura. This element is important because the heroes of his paintings as
common representatives of their professions and environments (rather sad, subdued by the everyday life, plainly dressed) and their accompanying animals (definitely not thoroughbred) cannot be shown separately from their natural environment.
To paraphrase the title of the famous film by the Coen brothers *, it can be said that the events cited in Modzelewski’s paintings “No Country for Celebrities”, because their scenery does not belong to the realm of glitz, but quite ordinary mediocrity. Nobody pretends to be nobody here, everyone is there, everyone is at home. Context plays an important role in his works, because it is the framework on which the essence of the work is based, but the painter’s relationship with the object is crucial. Modzelewski looks at people, animals and the world that surrounds them with acceptance and even delicate tenderness (this also applies to landscapes), sometimes with a bit of humor. Besides the perceived situation, there is probably something else that catches the painter’s eye. It can be a surprising color scheme, an interesting composition, type of light, etc… The artist looks for situations that inspire, release potential and an impulse to act, the end result is a painting. Karl Ove Knausgård in the last volume of his work “My Struggle” * notes that: “All meaning is born out of the gaze. Meaning is not something that the world has or does not have, we give it to it. The look makes the external change into the internal (…). All meaning is born in the gaze, all meaning is born in the heart. “.
The words of the Norwegian writer could be applied to Jarosław Modzelewski’s painting but for the fact that the artist perversely inverts this claim, pointing to the pictures as causative instruments which “made me paint”. What does that mean? What prompted and still prompts the painter to work?
If the eye hold command is taken seriously, then it should be stated that the paintings that “impose” themselves on a painter result from the power of emotions evoked in him. The battle at the easel is about stirring them and fought later and it happens – often fortunately for us – that this battle is won…
*Jarosław Modzelewski, ”Przegląd z malarstwa”, Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej, Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków,2000
*”No Country for Old Men”, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007, USA
*Karl Ove Knausgård,” Moja Walka”, t. 6, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Warszawa, 2018,( przekł. Iwona Zimnicka)