The joint exhibition by Sławomir Elsner and Zbigniew Rogal­ski reveals images that customarily only artists are privy to – step­ping into the interiors of the artist’s studio and across land­scapes viewed, in a rather literal sense, through the painter’s eye. Each of these artists is fascinated by the conven­tions and the ethereal aspects of pain­ting; mean­while their works also exhibit a spirit of self-​reflection on the typicality of the space in which art is created, and on the delusory nature of mankind’s visual apparatus.


Elsner bases his drawings on photographs of studio interiors belon­ging to fellow artists (Althamer, Buj­now­ski, Dwur­nik, Kulik, Kwade, Maciejow­ski, Sasnal). The images depict frag­ments of these spaces, arbitrarily framed, demon­strating more about Elsner than the artist or the space he’s por­traying. There’s a note of eerie empathy, a sense of incredulity about the unique charac­ter of the artist’s work­space. Elsner’s drawings are devoid of people, depic­ting the par­tial interiors, frag­ments of works and numerous objects that add up to build an intimate sort of setup. We find these places just ‘before’, ‘after’ or ‘on break’ amidst the activity buz­zing within, which, in turn, turns up our curiosity, a desire to know more. These details remain private, the artist is not present – there is no room for allegory here, this is a space for work, simply, as fur­ther layers of a drawing are patien­tly applied. The series is crow­ned with a drawing based on Rogalski’s studio, depic­ting pain­tings that are actually on show as part of the cur­rent exhibition.


In Rogalski’s ear­lier works, the studio as a sub­ject, the isolated pain­ting laboratory, is key. In this way, his art probed the relation­ship between pain­ting and the actual space, along with what hap­pens ‘on the out­side’. In time, his atten­tion became increasin­gly focused on taking pain­ting apart, com­piling images and their reflec­tions to achieve the essence of it all – light. This is what builds the nar­rative of the artist’s most recent works of pain­ting and photography. The gleam of the flash, flames lic­king at scraps of paper, a light at the end of a tunnel – the blin­ding effect returns obe­ssively, har­monizing with the remar­kable dip­tych represen­ting the ‘Eye Fundus Land­scape’ (2015). The view of dry bran­ches against the sky, refer­ring, in turn, to the ear­lier series titled ‘Death of a Par­tisan’ (‘Śmierć par­tyzanta’, 2005), trans­for­med into a diagnostic image of the eye, which manifests signs of ill­ness. Rogal­ski touches upon fun­damen­tal issues tied with the act of seeing and of creating a work of art, entering, at the same time, into the anatomy of the eye and its metaphysical proper­ties – a land­scape pain­ting of a crown of tree bran­ches against the sky is part of this idea. And much like the subtle drawings of art studios by Elsner, Rogalski’s works also reflect an archetypal form of sorts, as well as a study of exhaustion. This is where it all begins and ends – within the eye, within the studio of the artist.


Sławomir Elsner, Zbigniew Rogalski