Aluminum Song explores the lyrical and political proper­ties of matter that co-​created cer­tain legends of industry – and its demise. The show is made up of con­tem­porary works by Krzysz­tof M. Bed­nar­ski, Piotr Łakomy, Prze­mek Matecki, Janek Simon and Jan Smaga, along­side photographs by Paweł Pierściński documen­ting the bustle of smel­ting plants in the 1960s and utilitarian objects of the 1970s.

The link between these generically diverse pieces is the relation­ship between matter and the industrial method in art, the ten­sion between poetry and the economics of physical materials.

Aluminum – a ligh­tweight, non-​corrosive metal – appears in a range of forms, both as an artistic medium and an industrial material, a ready-​made of sorts. Its artistic legacy is intrin­sically con­nec­ted to the idea of deper­sonalizing the act of creation. At the same time, in a way that varies from the tradition of minimal art – which in itself was not par­ticularly prevalent in Poland, other­wise finely represen­ted by the famed aluminum objects of Donald Judd – the con­text for its adop­tion is the socio-​modernist buzz for the poetics of industry, played up by the propaganda machine of socialism. A more con­tem­porary theme related to the use of aluminum is, on the other hand, an eco-​minded approach, which inc­ludes an analysis of the recyc­ling process wherein works of art might be an integral part (or result) of such proces­ses. Moreover, the tenet of “truth to materials” prevails, a fascination with their cold­ness and intran­sigence in the face of conven­tional, traditional methods of creating an artistic narrative.

 

This legend was and con­tinues to be cram­med down the throats of artists, as if – altogether stereo­typically – the male sex found par­ticular enjoyment in the use of tough materials. The aluminum-​cast sculp­tures of Krzysz­tof M. Bed­nar­ski resound with a com­men­tary on explicitly political iconography, the echo of labor ideology, cor­rup­ted by com­munism. Then there are ethereal com­positions of Marian Bogusz – titled Erotica, making use of the same material to reveal an entirely opposing idea: using aluminum to convey a rather apolitical purity and innocence.

The industrial fascination with the quality of materials, the produc­tion process and prac­tical application, has long spar­ked an association with the artistic lexicon of abs­trac­tion, legible, at the very least, in the documen­tary photography of Paweł Pierściński. Intuitively he discovers the rhyth­mic, geo­metric com­positions of fac­tory halls, endowing metal wor­kers with an aspect of artistry as they ply abs­tract materials into proper forms. A point of con­trast among these paral­lels is Jan Smaga’s MSNKDT photography series. In an aban­doned tin stall of a traders’ bazaar on Warsaw’s Defilad Square, Smaga discerns various individual frag­ments of the con­struc­tion and rem­nants of what once was. He endows these objects – not without irony – a new func­tion as artefacts, anticipating the impen­ding con­struc­tion of a new museum of con­tem­porary art on the site.

The ten­sion related to the use of utilitarian materials arises in a dif­ferent guise in the works of Piotr Łakomy and Prze­mek Matecki. These artists pursue con­tem­porary aesthetic values and a new seman­tic range of associations with aluminum, which is equally cheap and pricey, swift, euphoric, speed-​like and – like alucore in the works of Łakomy – ultra-​technological and innovative. In Matecki’s pain­tings, aluminum foil reflects the gleam of Warhol’s Fac­tory. The minimal use of matter and gestures works in favor of the mul­tifaceted expres­sion given off by the silvery material, glim­mering, graceful and not entirely predictable.

Then there is Janek Simon’s can of Coca-​Cola. One of the most ubiquitous objects made of aluminum becomes a prop in an absurd game of anar­chizing the system of everyday con­sump­tion. The artist com­mits an act of reverse shoplifting – he goes from one shop to another, paying for the very same can of coke over and over again.

Against the back­drop of these individual nar­ratives lies a question of the human dimen­sion and artistic endeavor. To what extent can our iden­tity be defined or described by the methods of making, proces­sing and utilizing a par­ticular material?

 



Paweł Pierściński, 
From the Kielecczyzna przemyslowa cycle. Kielce - Zakłady Urządzeń Chemicznych i Armatury Przemysłowej CHEMAR, 1967-68, bromide photograph


Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Karl Marx Christmas Tree, 1978-2013, aluminum, 240x 110 x 100 cm


Marian Bogusz, Composition on a Square VII, 1979, acrylic paint on aluminum plate, 100 x 100 cm

2014 exhibitions

ALUMINUM SONG

22.11.2014-24.01.2015

Opening on Saturday, 22nd of November, at 6 PM until 9 PM

 

Krzysztof M. Bednarski

Marian Bogusz

Piotr Łakomy

Przemysław Matecki

Paweł Pierściński

Janek Simon 

Jan Smaga

 



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