Rafał Strent review

Rafał Strent

[…] When I saw some of Ms. Bogusława Bortnik-Morajda’s work, my first impulse was to associate it with the paintings of Francis Bacon, i.e. with the trend in modern art that emphasizes gestural expression while subordinating it to Romantic sentiment. It is good that artists today can afford to be so multifaceted – that one artistic option does not prevail, that the pluralism of positions makes art a living, vibrant and dynamic phenomenon. Assuming this is a feature of postmodernism, we should be glad to have lived to see a time that legitimizes diversity, gives a chance to a million shades of sensitivity, as unique as every one of us.

[…] It is banal to praise a painter for her sensitivity to colour – but what other word can be used to describe the basic quality of a person who expresses her arguments and emotions through colours, which are untranslatable into other means of expression. The artist uses a simple material – paint – to represent the perfection available to sophisticated eyes.

My first impressions on seeing her works were of a sophisticated use of colour and humility in the face of reality – fantastic or realistic genre scenes and their actors generate the kind of tensions that result from a play of emotions, retaining an element of mystery that a work of art must have to be worthy of its name.

[…] Bogusława Bortnik-Morajda has a gift – shared by few people – for using sensuous means (since that’s what colour, value, texture and composition are) to capture the atmosphere of daily occurrences which take on the dimension of Eliade’s ‘limit-situations’. This is the magic of art, which can ennoble everyday life, giving it a cosmic dimension.

We are witness to a revolution of the same magnitude as the use of binary arithmetic, which has been known since the dawn of time […]. […] Articles 16 and 17 of the Act on Academic and Artistic Degrees and Titles require that a definite assessment be made whether the submitted post-doctoral project constitutes a significant contribution to the development of a given discipline. This requirement already poses a problem, because it is a universally accepted axiom that there is no progress (i.e. development) in art. While it is true that the technical means at its disposal are increasingly more advanced and the extent and rapidity of its impact grows, the fundamental problems of art have not changed since the time of Altamira and the centuries that preceded it. Today we are faced with the immense opportunity provided by the entry of WOMEN, as equal partners, into the world of art. For thousands of years, the patriarchal social relations prevented them from expressing their vision of the world. Today it is possible, at least in our part of the globe, to learn or experience how artistic relations are seen by the complementary sex. That’s the phrase we should use: not ‘the opposite’ but ‘complementary sex’, because we cannot exist without each other. And it will never be possible to prove that one of the sexes is better, smarter or more talented.

Eighteen large paintings were created as eighteen ways of examining the relationship between two people, notwithstanding that some of them feature several figures or (seemingly) just one figure. The role of the subject is always played by a woman. Although the feminine point of view draws from cultural monuments produced by men – as with the paintings A.B. and C.D. which everyone says are derived from Bacon – it offers an opportunity to examine the same problem in a different way. Since nobody denies the differences between the complementary partners, including in terms of emotions, logical priorities which encompass all compositional problems, and sensitivity to colour.

The artist is notable for her mastery of Expressionist technique, which is usually employed by men – the case of Käthe Kollwitz was an exception dictated by her political involvement. Ms. Bortnik-Morajda seems to treat the encounter with Expressionism as an adventure, as a manifestation of women’s natural predilection for discourse, also in the field of art.

She uses beautiful colour harmonies to build the third dimension of interiors; small sharp pure patches of colour are cleverly deployed to enliven perfectly arranged compositions, expressing her technical mastery and clearly defined artistic goals.

The language of her paintings shows many similarities with the language of mathematics, which seems to be the highest compliment. Mathematics is the only ideal achievable on earth, and a dispassionate analysis of the best works of art evokes analogies with equations containing many variables which must always balance out. This applies to all modes of artistic activity, although the parallelism is most easily identifiable in the visual arts.

Her latest painting, Małżeństwo – M.G. (Marriage – M.G.; 2007) seems to herald a new chapter in the artist’s work. The change indicates that she is not going to limit herself to using familiar methods, that she has a genuine artistic temperament that drives her to explore unknown territories. The artist’s technical skill allows her to scrutinize the recesses of her soul, which is why we can expect many beautiful things from her.

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