It is said that in the begin­ning was the word. Out­side of the biblical aspects of this dictum, there is, per­haps, a reference to the realm of art – in par­ticular, the art of Michał Budny. The star­ting point for many of his works and projects is often an idea or a word, which the artist then trans­fers into a cor­respon­ding physical or spatial equivalent. Budny’s latest exhibition ‘Żywica’, has been prepared especially for the space of the Raster gal­lery, which provides the blank canvas that he typically begins with. However the par­ticularities of this specific space make for a unique approach to the project. Budny spent a week at Raster, wor­king on various layers and variants for the exhibition, experimen­ting with dif­ferent materials as he strove to establish his presence here in the most organic way possible.

The title ‘Żywica’ (‘Resin’) demar­cates an area that is essen­tial for the artist’s intuition and his associations, which go beyond the primary sense of the word. The mere sound of the word spoken is significant, with the hard con­sonants in English creating a very raw con­notation, while the Polish word żywica is drawn from the word for life –życie – infer­ring something very much alive. Then there is the smell of the sub­stance as it flows out of the tree and the organic process of accumulating layer upon layer. Resin is also a sub­stance that ‘enlivens’ a seemin­gly lifeless sur­face and in the process takes us onto another level of per­cep­tion. This is the sense behind Budny’s interven­tion: to draw out the architec­ture and natural aura of a place.

The exhibition chan­ges throughout the day, affec­ted by varying aspects of daylight and the weather. This bright, wide space is con­tained on one side by the glass display at the front, high ceilings and white walls made of sub­sequent layers of paint, plaster, tape and foil. The artist has softened the sur­face of the walls, creating a sur­real soft­ness about the gal­lery. He has created an ‘enlivened’ space, yet it retains the enig­matic ‘white cube’ charac­ter of the art gal­lery. Budny also introduces the element of time into the for­mula – each layer of materials applied to the walls indicates a par­ticular sequence of events, leading one to ask what had come before and what might come next. The initial imper­fec­tion of the walls and their curvature become a natural part of the artist’s project and the story he is trying to tell.

Much like his ear­lier works, Budny’s ‘Żywica’refers to the human presence. It drives and streng­thens our sen­sibility towards the architec­ture sur­roun­ding us. The warm minimalism fostered by the artist also reflects a large degree of rigour set against the seduc­tive nature of materials that appear elemen­tary on the sur­face, yet manifest a cer­tain inten­sity. ‘Usage’ would be the most apt term to describe the careful, inquisitive, con­trol­led approach of the artist to the materials and the space at hand.

For those familiar with Budny’s work, this latest exhibition may come as a sur­prise. For the first time he has refrained entirely from sculp­tural objects and individuals works. He has created a unified environ­ment in which there are no obvious points of reference or focal pieces. Everything takes place ‘in between’ the word and reality, the gal­lery space and the con­sciousness of the viewer – much as was the case at Budny’s exhibition last year at the Kun­stverein in Dus­sel­dorf – titled ‘In Between’.

Michał Budny