Afterimages of life. Wladyslaw Strzeminski and rights for art

Władysław Strzemiński is an iconic figure, one of the most radical artists connected with the inter-war avant-garde movement in Poland. He is also a crucial figure for the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz: it is thanks to his efforts that the International Collection of Modern Art of the “a.r” group was created and marked the beginnings of the institution. Afterimages of Life is the first monographic exhibition of the artist in the period of the last 17 years. Its objective is the re-interpretation of Władysław Strzemiński’s works and placing them in the context of contemporary world. The multi-layered activities of Strzemiński aimed not only at transforming of the so-called high art – painting, sculpture, architecture – but also at transforming the broadly-understood design, which would eventually lead to transformation of men’s surroundings and their lives. Today, his attitude is generally interpreted solely in historical context but the questions to which he tried to find answers – what laws govern art, what are art’s rights, can art be separated from life and to what extent can art influence life – seem to be topical still.

What are „afterimages”, the key notion to Strzemiński’s theory of seeing? Physiologically speaking, retina retains the object for a longer time than the moment of seeing the ting actually lasts: it remembers the image although the gaze has already. This is why the eye has a possibility of overlapping and mixing images: those that are still on the retina, although we do not look at them anymore, and those we see in real time. It can thus be said that the overlapping of images makes it possible to transfer visual elements from one area onto the other, e.g. from painting onto sculpture, from sculpture onto architecture, from architecture onto life. This was some phenomena discovered in painting can be applied in everyday life, interior design, or even urban planning design.
The second part of the title: Władysław Strzemiński and Rights for Art refers to the artist’s deliberations on the „right” to which he devoted a large part of his research. Strzemiński was deeply convinced that art has the right to participate in life and life has the right to participate in art. Art then, according to Strzemiński should discover essential elements of life and create their artistic counterparts. Art is not a creation separated from reality but functions within it and results from it.

Broadening the field of interpretation of Strzemiński’s works, the curators invited a German artist, Katja Strunz, who re-works the theme of avant-garde in her own work, to cooperate in creating the exhibition. Thanks to her intervention in the shape of the architecture of the exhibition we are given a new commentary to the works of Strzemiński. Strunz, using the letters of Strzemiński’s alphabet created in the 1930s, put together the word Zeittraum, That outlines the space of the exhibition.

Afterimages of Life. Władysław Strzemiński and Rights for Art are the largest and the most important production of the Museum in 2010. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of lectures conducted by international guests, an analytic seminar of reading Strzemiński’s theoretical texts, a discussion panel and workshops and educational activities for wide audiences. Related to the exhibition, three publications will be issued: the exhibition catalogue, a brochure connected with Katja Strunz’s artistic design and a book consisting of interpretations aimed at filling the gap in research into Strzemiński’s works.

Exhibition design: Katja Strunz
Curators: Paulina Kurc-Maj, Jarosław Lubiak
Consultation: Zenobia Karnicka

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