Krzysztof M. Bednarski’s Gravity is an exhibition devoted to the forces of attraction that affect the individual – human beings, poets, and sculptors. Bednarski explores the symbolic gravity of matter, its forms, characters, and archetypal figures. This is also an exhibition about the gravity with which cinema, theatre, literature – and above all – poetry, affect Bednarski’s art.
Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville, and Lars von Trier are among the authors with whom Bednarski engages in a dialogue as part of Gravity. The figure of Tymoteusz Karpowicz comes to the forefront here; he was a poet considered to be the last great Polish modernist; an experimentalist who uncompromisingly tested the limits of language, following the utopian ideal of containing the entirety of human experience in words and text. It is to Karpowicz that Bednarski dedicates his Wrocław exhibition.
Krzysztof M. Bednarski, one of the most outstanding contemporary Polish sculptors, is a truly impressive artist in his deep understanding of classical categories of the matter, form and space-time aspects of sculpture. This deep understanding of classical categories allows Bednarski not only to follow, but also to go beyond them. Moving from the traditional starting point of a studio sculpture, the artist moves towards experiment, expanding “the battlefield” with a performative gesture, searching for the sound dimension of visual forms and artistic modelling of space.
At the Gravity exhibition, themes and figures, such as Moby Dick, which have been present in Bednarski’s art for decades, are juxtaposed with reconstructions and reinterpretations of the legendary site- specific installations The edge of shadow and Sunny passages, as well as with premiere productions, such as Melancholia, inspired by Lars von Trier’s film of the same title. The themes recurring in Bednarski’s works have been mixed together by the artist, in collaboration with Stach Szabłowski, a curator often working with the BWA Wrocław (Midnightshow, Olaf Brzeski’s The Self-Seeker), and Patrycja Sikora, who is permanently associated with the BWA. The exhibition strongly emphasizes the artist’s relationship with Wrocław, the city where Bednarski realised his seminal early works as a member of Jerzy Grotowski’s circle.
Gravity comprises sculptures, spatial and sound installations for-camera performances, pieces drawing on items found and registrations of real-life – ‘found’ situations. Based on these diverse works, Bednarski builds a framework for the existential experience, which he displays as simultaneously submitted to the force of gravity of great cosmic metaphors and the power of attraction of everyday life. The perspective of deliberations is determined here by both the skyline invoked in the installation Edge of the shadow, the vision of a cosmic catastrophe from Melancholia, and the space of the inner life expressed by the language of the forms created by the artist. From Bednarski’s point of view art serves a dual function. It is a vehicle, an ark used to sail across the oceans of reality – just like Moby Dick – and is crucial to the exhibition and the artist’s entire output, whose form is derived from a boat abandoned on a river bank. But it is also a communication tool; a code used to express one’s experience. The exhibition is conceived as a space in which the artist – like a sailor throwing a message in a bottle into the sea or an astronomer sending messages into the outer space – post his existential message, in the hope that it will be received.
- Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Gravity. To Tymoteusz Karpowicz, BWA Wrocław 2016. Courtesy of the artist and BWA Wrocław
- Installation view of Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Brzeg cienia (Wyznanie), Galeria Foksal, Warsaw 2007. Photo Mariusz Michalski. Courtesy of the artist and BWA Wrocław