Propaganda Gallery, Warsaw: Ain’t No Grave…

Aleksander Ryszka

Ain’t No Grave . . .


“There ain’t no grave can hold my body down” – with those words opens Johnny’s Cash posthumous album expressing his exceptional love of life. Aleksander Ryszka leaves on one of his canvas only half of this phrase to stress its universality and open it to new interpretations. The inscription is barely visible, but once noticed-haunts the eye.

On first impression Ryszka’s works seem to belong to academic landscape tradition; simple to behold, civilized, almost self-explanatory. But quickly deeper aspects come forth; the final form is achieved not by trivial technical tricks of easel painting. Flowing, airy qualities appear by giving way to the uncontrolled process. The figurative content is treated with turpentine, and so given to chance, exposed to risk. This way fragments of photos and bits of text visible on canvas while losing their autonomy keep the power of signifie. Inscriptions, vague memories, blurred images and displaced fragments work similarly to Barth’s punctum , they arouse fascination and anxiety usually felt only in presence of death or fundamental questions: what will become of us, what had we given?

Presented works also evoke personal themes, bearing witness to the need of confrontation with artist’s own past. Ain’t No Grave… can be read as an attempt to charm death. This occurs by inscribing explicit incantations on the canvas (All the Love Of The Universe, Let Us Go into the House of the Lord). Same scope is served by subtle use of old family photos that also set the nostalgic tone of the exhibition. Ain’t No Grave… is Aleksander’s Ryszka second solo show presented by Propaganda Gallery, being also a continuation of the experiments that fueled the former exhibition under the title All I Want is You.

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