It seems that the latest exhibition from Cezary Poniatowski is a great opportunity to say a few things about the artist’s work in a broader perspective. It will be easiest to express it in the form of a numbered list, from which perhaps it will be possible to compose a whole:
- 1. Poniatowski’s works are three-dimensional objects, and this applies even to wall reliefs, often with a depth much more serious than what is usually associated with reliefs. On the other hand, all these objects, metaphorically, refer to the impoverishment of dimensions: their subject is an empty gesture, shallow perception, simulation, nonsense.
- 2. The world invented in detail by Poniatowski is built from a limited number of elements: human, insect and plant-like elements continually present in his work. This is where the reconfigurations, repetitions, and general impressions of obsessiveness stem from.
- 3. The above does not hinder Poniatowski from concentrating his activities and composing extensive depictions, and perhaps on the contrary, it is thanks to this reduction that the artist manages to create a convention – a world with a clear character, a kind of mutant that consists of a fairy tale, a western and an adventurous tale, a horror as well as comedy.
- 4. This convention – intentionally provoked and controlled – bursts at the seams in certain places. The visible rows of upholstery staples, the rings on the wooden base, the accumulation of minor defects, disclosure of basting stitches, and the generally provisional nature, or even an amateur aura, not so much weaken the above-mentioned convention, but simply break it – they give it subversive power.
- 5. The essential role here is played by the conscious selection of techniques and materials – mostly of meagre origins: artificial leather, a sponge, plastic, old furniture, shives, a worn-out carpet – a whole catalog of things that are as common in the home context as they are embarrassing in the artistic. (Even coal appears here in its cheapest form – as a briquette.)
- 6. This fantasy world, full of narrative potential, is immobile, frozen in an expressive grimace, but also – and this is where the essence of Poniatowski’s work echoes – disturbingly tangible, embodied. It is tumid and puffy. It stings and itches, as if something poisonous has gathered under the skin.
- 7. I deeply believed in the world of kaleidoscopes, sequins, and circuses; I did not suspect any tricks, I did not to attempt to scratch the surface to go deeper, to check if it was real. Because you can’t scrape or check anything. Because if you scrape a bit at the world, then it all starts to become ugly, like a messed up wound, and then it’s good for nothing. (Michał Witkowski, Fototapeta (Photo Wallpaper), 2006)
- 8. If an art exhibition can be considered a graveyard (as Moyra Davey does so somewhere in her texts), it would be appropriate to first look at it as a circus and at each work as another number of the programme, another show. (Welcome to Itchy Truths!)
- 9. You can also visit it like you would a zoo, and while walking between the cages and terrariums visiting their inhabitants, remember the rather uncomfortable idea that here, the observer is also observed. The artist’s works look at us with a similar vision, with their light bulb or ball-like eyes – they stare at us through cavities, gaps, and holes.
The exhibition has been held as part of Warsaw Gallery Weekend 2020.