“I was well glued together and I constituted a well-contoured and coherent ‘self’, with feelings bearing names and musings that could be told. I was what is called a man who leads his life and understands it. That is: he understands what he considers to be the illumination and sense of that life. And […] the lucidity of my inner judgements was what cracked inside me and left me who I am, i.e. a man who lives and does not understand anything around.” *
In the context of the latest solo exhibition of Gizela Mickiewicz, it is worth recalling the figure and brief biography of Romanian writer Max Blecher. Overpowered by a sudden illness, the writer dedicated his modest literary output to a meticulous description of the subsequent stages of its course through processes of physical and mental breakdown while isolated in a hospital bed. Commenting on the exhibition, the artist eagerly and directly refers to the insights written by Blecher, but she is not interested in the details of the biography as much as in the form of the description of the existential crisis and the disturbance of the structure – precipitated from the ruts of what she considered the norm – personality. Mickiewicz leaves aside her own life experience, like the text, cleaning the works of confessional elements in favour of liquid forms evoking movements of the self caused by life events.
As a result, we are dealing with sculptures with immanent content – they are multidimensional, ambiguous, intricate, rough and fragile. For several years, Mickiewicz’s work has been dominated by the idea of translating ephemeral spiritual states into the concrete material of a sculptural object. This idea usually resulted in the brilliant juxtaposition of sometimes contradictory materials. The latest works arising from this practice go a step further towards autonomous and synthetic sculpture. It seems significant that the artist herself now uses the word sculpture more willingly rather than the previously used word object.
In contrast, the figurative element is completely new to Mickiewicz’s work – arms and legs, tangled in a gesture of care or fall, form the frame of the exhibition and in the context of the abstract and muted whole, they ring out like the words of a personal confession.
*Max Blecher, The Lit-Up Burrow: Sanatorium Journal, publ. 1947