Mikołaj Smoczyński Two Series
13.02.2015 - 12.04.2015
The first in the series of Mikołaj Smoczyński’s individual exhibitions Object, Space, Photography opened in October 2014. The second, also based entirely on works from the MOCAK Collection, will present the artist’s two earliest photographic series: Double Object and The Secret Performance.
The exhibition Two Series aims to juxtapose the artist’s reflections on the relationship of the object with space and its fluctuating states with photographic documentation. The works will be annotated with Smoczyński’s comments from his book Past Tense: Commentaries on Works from 1980–1999 (Talking about Myself) published by MOCAK in 2013. There, years later, the artist analyses his various works, revealing his thought and inspirational processes that accompanied their creation. Such direct commentaries by an artist are rare and they may be of particular value to those interested in art. The publication demonstrates that the creative processes are just as important as the works themselves.
Double Object is a series of photographs, produced on the basis on a painterly concept that never saw the light of day. The artist had intended to create a series of paintings 150 cm wide – the equivalent of his own arm span. In the event, he abandoned the idea. From dismounted grounds, he made an object that became the protagonist of his photographic series. The photographs record their author’s battling with the place of the object in space. He wrote: ‘It immediately came as a surprise to me that this thing that I knew so well now looked completely different. The second shock was the difficulty I had trying to locate it in space. I went on trying for a long time but never found a fully satisfactory solution. Searching for the optimal configuration, I was trying to find a perfect position that would reveal the properties of the object.’ The artist completed working on the series in 1982. The object was lost in transport two years later. All that was left were photographs and the author’s commentaries. This is how Smoczyński wittily summed up the predicament: ‘It served its function and I do not regret that it is gone’.
The experiences with Double Object became the basis of The Secret Performance. Smoczyński wrote: ‘The word »performance«, which appears in the title of this cycle, should be treated as arbitrary. I used it to signal the elements of action that exist in these images, and I prefaced them with the word »secret« since my actions were always exclusively for photography. They were one-time experiences. Thus, the photographic images are the only proof that they occurred.’ The striking feature of these works are their dimensions; the photographs often show objects in the scale of 1:1, as well as expanding to the maximum the range of greyness.
Mikołaj Smoczyński (1955–2009) – associated with Lublin, where he lived and worked since his period of studying there (1975–1979) at the UMCS. Author of site-specific installations and monochromatic photographs, which often provide a creative record of his activities in gallery space. Sculptural activity and experimental photograph are hard to distinguish in the artist’s work.Smoczyński presented his works in a few dozen individual exhibitions, including in San Diego (San Diego State University Art Gallery), Lyon (E.L.A.C.), New York (Art in General Gallery, International Studio Program) and Berlin (IFA Galerie). He received numerous awards, including the European Photography Award (1992) in Berlinie as well as grants, such as Quint Kirchman Projects (San Diego, 1991), Fondation d’Art de la Napoule, Memorial Henry Clews (La Napoule, 1993) and the International Program Studio (New Jork, 2001). Mikołaj Smoczyński’s works can be found in the collections of the most important cultural institutions in Poland and in numerous collections abroad.