Glass Hearts II
For many years Paweł Nowak has been creating wax paintings, objects and installations, organic constructions to watch, smell and touch. He worked like a bee to sprinkle wax over wrinkled fractal maps. He skillfully used light to make us associate shining, vibrating surfaces smelling of wax with some kind of mysticism, religiousness in a broad meaning of this word. Despite their abstractionism, they were surprisingly accurate about life symbolism.
A couple of years ago the artists made a radical move and abandoned his wax figures to commit himself to painting. His small paintings, accompanied by videos, photographs and objects, create a very intimate microcosm following the tradition of expressive abstraction and poetic symbolism. Fascinated by drawings and outlines presenting human body in biology textbooks, at first intuitively, with time more and more consciously, he explored biological signs and symbols. Projects like Chory Objekt (Ill Object) related to the virus which had attacked chestnut trees across Europe, Wschody i Zachody (Risings and Settings) presenting two pulsating hearts, the Akt (Nude) series, which was a creative act connected directly with the human body, are all examples of the artist exploring new themes and creating a completely new poetics for himself, this time really close to a human being.
Paweł Nowak talks about love and sex. Among abstract shapes appear almost realistic images of the artist’s wife and his self-portraits. Their physical nature is highlighted by the use of materials and colours associated with bloodstains or bodily fluids. The author is experimenting by using wax, oil, paraffin or wood stain as paint. He works within pastel aesthetics, he often reaches for pink, the colour of love, human skin, femininity, but also kitsch. Some of his paintings look as if they were damaged or stained. They have been subjected to the process of the passing of time, they became a part of everyday life.
Tangible, palpable little paintings, series created day after day, fill out the walls of the gallery creating the atmosphere of intimacy. We get the impression that we are inside of a skinless human body and we are watching its inner organs.
The series of paintings are connected with the wood of glass hearts. Transparent models placed on thin bars are rocking slowly at the height of our chests. They create an installation filled with surfaces crossing each other, reflecting lights. The artist dissected them from a physical body and changed into hard yet fragile bulbs. The bodies have vanished, the hearts have remained.
Paweł Nowak in a poetic and romantic way talks about human existence. His work entitled Transfusion brings about Werner Herzog’s film Heart of Glass. “In fact, this immaculate transparency creates. The game between the fleeting reflections of lights and fragility overawes. Shrouded in a gigantic cocoon of metaphors and meanings, the heart remains a symbol of what is the most precious, the most alive and the most intimate. Here, nonetheless, it is still, impersonal, multiplied and waiting, as a project, a task waiting to be made concrete. ” [Sławomir Marzec, Morfologia uczuć, Exit, 2012] Anonymous beings built from similar elements of the body, which have different biological genotypes and different numbers given to them to enable their functioning in a society – this is what we are. Paweł Nowak transforms elements of our bodies, separates them from one another, gets the insides outside, tears the skin of, turns it inside out. The optimism of youthful wax works turns into something not so much pessimistic, but rather undefined. With his visual art, the author talks about borders, determinants, fragility.
The artists are seen as individuals who have better ability to penetrate the forms of irrational, intuitive knowledge, the experience and imagination. Their separation from the structures of power makes them less prone to be influenced by the mentality of the masses. Subjectivity was constructed as the force supporting the intuitive and emotional knowledge in opposition to the mass culture and providing freedom. The artist creates history, which is not a sequence of political or social events, but a collection of interpretations, activities and non-determining relations. Paweł Nowak is such a “separate” artist, creating art that is individual, not subject to any fads or influences. He talks about the most basic values of our existence; about love and the fragility of life.
tr. Magdalena Gładysz