The latest sculptures by Gizela Mickiewicz reference the human figure, but it is not the body itself that is important as much as the plasticity of meanings that it can carry. Captured in a specific movement, the body becomes a non-verbal message – it is no longer a body, but a symbol. Mickiewicz is interested in bodily orientation in the world, in the forms in which experiences, thoughts, intentions, and relationships are reflected in the dynamics and postures of the body, its tensions, or lack thereof.
Mickiewicz engages the viewers, drawing them into the body of her works. She engages their way of feeling and understanding the body in order to show the community character of the sphere of gestures. In one of the sculptures, reminiscent of a torso with imprinted traces of various types of touch, she draws a kind of map of the zones of body relations and indicates their intimate or public affiliation. In the case of this sculpture, it is also possible – literally or imaginatively – to apply a hand to the location of the touch and thus to look at the nature of the given contact, relate it to one’s own experience and understand it.
The shades of interpersonal relationships expressed through bodily messages also appear in other works. Eyes intentionally avoiding someone’s gaze are a signifier of non-contact. The meandering, unnaturally elongated arm with a supporting hand is a signifier of gestures performed at a distance or imaginative gestures. Multiple embracing arms arranged in a shape resembling a body are a figure of a basic emotional need.
The plasticity of meanings that the body can carry is reflected in the material dimension of the works. Polymorph plastic, which liquefies into a thick mass when heated and then cools down, taking the shape given to it, is the dominant material of the works. Reheated, it liquefies again, so it has the potential to be shaped and transformed – like a gesture that appears, fades away, and transforms into another. The main technique used by Mickiewicz is direct casting. The body must precisely express the gesture, literally freeze it, hold the tension and let the material cool, which, as it becomes firmer, prolongs the gesture and becomes its carrier.
All the works are distributed between figuration and abstraction, which deprives them of literality and gives the impression that both the clear form and the magma-like, ambiguous matter used to belong to the same order. In this, one can see a characteristic trait of Mickiewicz’s entire practice, in which form and materiality harmonize with the content and express the same thing.