Bunkier Gallery, Krakow: Painting, Action!

Grzegorz Mart | Painting, Action!

Opening: Thursday 6 June, 6 pm
7 June 2013 – 7 July 2013

Curator: Krzysztof Siatka
Venue: Lower Gallery

The series of painting-cum-film performances by Grzegorz Mart prepared for Bunkier Sztuki develops the concept which the artist has been working on for a number of months, under the group title Film Images. The artist focuses his everyday activities on the film documentation of artistic events, with his etudes showing many of the significant ones that have taken place in recent years. This is essentially the source of Film Images.

Assuming that the task of a documentary maker is to record memories of an event in a form and scope reflecting as closely as possible the experience of that event, it is clear that the margin left for the author’s own comment is relatively narrow. Film Images broaden out and redefine those peripheries. This is a subjective artistic document, in which the documentary maker’s perception of a phenomenon is highly individualistic, yet it does not rely on the manipulation of facts, but rather on innovation within the medium of creation, recording and transmission.

After a few days of the presentation, Grzegorz Mart will attempt to re-interpret the films which are part of the Bunkier Collection – records of significant transformations in popular art, often produced with the Gallery’s input.

The concept of Film Images is encapsulated in the phenomenon of intermedia re-interpretation. Employing films – moving pictures that have been familiar in the world of art for a century, and painting – a technique identified with creativity as long as mankind has existed, the artist sets out to re-interpret the historically younger medium by the means of the older one. Following the shapes of the film image that changes within a split second, with his paint brush or – in the case of his drawing – with a marker pen, he traces the changing settings and treats them as a collection of abstract shapes. The dynamics of a splash of colour or of a line is determined by the movement of film frames. Excluding any plot, he discovers the abstract potential of film, a medium which is mostly considered to have the closest fit with reality. Paradoxically, the creations of Film Images carry in their deep structure a genuine attempt to represent reality as faithfully as possible.

Mart demonstrates that, at first glance, not only does each representation bear little resemblance to reality but, more importantly, reveals its huge abstract potential. In the context of the contemporary technology of film production, based on the camera interface, montage programme and digital projector, the artist’s performances make the viewer aware of the durability and topical quality of the early 20th-century theory of painting, which has been probably best encapsulated in the observation that ‘before the painting becomes a horse on the battlefield, a naked woman or any other anecdote, it is, first and foremost, a flat surface covered in paint in a particular order’. (Maurice Denis). It is also to tradition, but this time the avant-garde, that Film Images related the specific time framework of the duration of a work of art. The action is determined by the beginning and the end of the projected film. Action and activity, as Harold Rosenberg noted, are the essence of primary creation, devoid of an intellectual component – something that serves to emphasise the artist’s identity.

Grzegorz Mart’s concept – although deeply rooted in the documentary view of the work of the artists and the tasks that he faces – knowingly makes use of two codes: abstraction and figuration, or, to put in another way, the artist is a proponent of the traditional and avant-garde paradigms in the treatment of reality. Film Images emphasises the realistic potential of abstraction and the abstract potential of figuration. The intermediality of similar actions demonstrates their origin in artistic heritage, which is discovered using contemporary technology, and, after a fashion, it is tradition that gives this experimentation with the media its legitimacy.

Such are the origins and theoretical basis of Grzegorz Mart’s – visually very attractive – film-and-painting spectacle, which will be taking place periodically throughout the duration of the exhibition. Actions will be filmed as they occur and presented as part of the exhibition’s continued updating. The final outcomes of the process, at all times, are a film, action, a finished painting and film documentation. However, the closest to the essence of the concept is probably… action.

Grzegorz Mart’s exhibition entitled Painting, Action! is carried out as part of the project There Will Be Artction! which aims to enhance the Bunkier Sztuki Collection and to engage audiences in action as broadly as possible.

Grzegorz Mart. A historian of medicine, graduate of the Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, student of the Intermedia Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. A documentary maker, photographer, performer and painter.

The purchasing of works for the Bunkier Collection is carried out as part of the project There Will Be Artction! Enhancement of the Bunkier Sztuki Collection. Part-financed from the funds of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

Collection Curator: Anna Lebensztejn


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