Mala Gallery, Warsaw, 8, Zamkowy Sq.
From February 2 to 26, 1999



Wieslaw Barszczak -  Little Circle

Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery
Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery, Warsaw


Dual Infinity

Two photographs, formerly exhibited at the Manhattan Gallery of Lodz. The first one presents the stained, blueish and ginger plane with a darker, fading trail. A decay, dying of a form? Or just dying? The second one shows the vague outline of a beach and the sea with two opposite vanishing points. Infinity multipled by two? Or it is infinity plus one, infinity with addition of something else brought by us?

Both photographs are untitled. Wieslaw Barszczak does not spoil anyone with any easy associations and symbols.

- Preparing his photographs for print is a real challenge. Printers do not believe that all those blemishes, water stains and blurs have to be there - says Andrzej Chętko, a graphic designer, who used the artist's photographs several times as elements of posters and illustrations.

Far from disrespecting the views of these printers - at least they are not indifferent, and their struggle for a photograph in focus and details in black is a trace of respectable tradition of mimesis - we have to accept the legitymacy of idiosyncrasies present in Wieslaw Barszczak's photographs. The artist has been consequently developing his characteristic "dirty" style for years. We can find it in the photographs exhibited at the galleries, in the illustrations for Dariusz Bugalski's book and the poster titled "You are that what you can see". Therefore: photographs out of focus? Yes! Double exposure? Yes! Badly fixed photographs and darkening appearing with time? Yes! Yes!

Wieslaw Barszczak's works are in clash with popular expectations towards the work of art - they do not glitter with chrome frames and there is no "masterly craftmanship". Moreover, they force us to make significant effort in order to grasp the hidden meaning. As in the case of hermetic poetry we are not at all certain whether our interpretations are correct.

The artistic imagination of Wieslaw Barszczak is of poetic nature - it is concentrated on succesive flashes of insight and lyrical emotions. The photographs are flawed evidence of those almost mystical experiences, which take place in various scenery: in everyday life at home and among the forest of Augustów, on Venetian canals and roofs of Lodz. Deepness and darkness of those insights brings to mind the earliest Ionic philosophers, from times when immagination and senses were not yet smothered by the centuries of philosophic tradition.]

The same sense helps Wieslaw Barszczak to have an effective insight into the works of culture, irrespective of whether they are Nietzsche's books or Richard Strauss's songs. The impression of freshness of his inellectual or musical discoveries can be the result of not only his extensive and reliable reading but also of the lack of academic education. Wieslaw Barszczak is a real dilettante who, like Josif Brodski, proudly threw off the school ties and educated himself alone.

He "...had no overriding philosophy... At best, I imagine, he hoped that the sum of his lines would add up to a worldview, if he cared about such a thing in the first place. For he was a sponge, and a melancholic one at that". Wieslaw Barszczak is a very receptive sponge.

Sociologists of art very often write about the "lost cultural code" and "presemiotic" situation of contemporary artists. Cut off firm ground of myths and rituals, deprived of uniform convention, the creators become lonely. All that is left for them to do is either to duplicate the dead patterns or to search for their own system of signs. Those who are able to strengthen their artistic work with a word are in a privileged situation.

Wieslaw Barszczak belongs to that group of artists. His poetic temperament bears fruit in his ability to talk. The photographer's opinions amuse us with wit and succinctness of epigrams, his observations are characterised with surgical precision of details - regardless of whether it is an image of rich American pensioners in Venice or townspeople of Augustów.

His photography is closely associated with colloquy and his coloquy with photography. That peculiar combination of two infinities, Art and Life - precious especially for those who are close to the artist - is slightly melancholic. The effect of conscious resignation of the pretence of eternal durability of his works is strenghtened with inevitable etherealness of words. As in those russset and badly fixed photographs whose form changes with the passage of time, two infinities are multiplied yet by another - by Time.

Pawel Spodenkiewicz
Translated by Aleksandra Wejchert-Spodenkiewicz.


Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery
Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery, Warsaw


Little circle

Difficulties we encounter when trying to interpret Wieslaw Barszczak's photographs result from a surprise. Are these pictures really photographs? Is it not a kind of mistake? Did artist really not feel like making really normal, sound, in focus and correctly exposed photographs?

If it was the case then we would be able to satisfy our curiosity, to feel aesthetic emotions and to think over if the technique chosen by the artist serves well the content of his work.

Unfortunately, this in not the case. The pictures of Wieslaw Barszczak although still may be called photograph they at the same time may not be considered so. Blurred contours, out of focus silhouettes, some stains, dark places - everything verging on chaos and mess. The exhibition is called Little Circle - perhaps these words are a key to a mystery which undoubtely is contained in these works. A little circle, a circle, around, something is turning, whirling - maybe in this vortex outlines are blurring and a background becomes gray? This incantation-like words spelled out by the artist's little son - being actually his first words - acquire additional meaning. Is it perhaps the begining of a bigger circle of the boy's life, in its whole inscrutable and unforseeable future?

The previous exhibitions of Wieslaw Barszczak were essentially such "circles", bigger at every turn, difficult to interprete, which appeared in a last moment depending on space available to the artist and in this last moment, usually at the opening of the exhibition, we were able to convince ourselves how aptly Barszczak has chosen means to achieve an effect of suprise, astonishment and sheer curiosity -which is so important in every circumstances, also at photographic exhibition. Even when it is somewhat perversely called Little Circle.

Marek Grygiel


Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery
Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery, Warsaw


Wieslaw Barszczak - wystawa w Malej Galerii
Wieslaw Barszczak in "Mala Gallery". Photo: M. Grygiel

Wieslaw Barszczak
Born in 1958. He lives and works in Lodz.

Individual exhibitions
1990 FOTOGRAFIA - Galeria CIK, Lodz
FOTOGRAFIE - Galeria Szkoly Filmowej, Lodz
1991 ROZA I OGIEN - Galeria FF, Lodz
1992 FOTOGRAFIE - Mala Galeria, Warszawa
1993 AFIRMACJA - Galeria FF, Lodz
1995 FOTOGRAFIE - Galeria PAcamera, Suwalki
1997 FOTOGRAFIE - Galeria Pusta, Katowice

Selected collective exhibitions
1987 PREIS FUR JUNGE EUROPEISCHE FOTOGRAFEN - Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main
1990 LOOKING EAST - Galleri Image, Aarhus
1991 ZMIANA WARTY - Galeria FF, Lodz
1992 EUROPE WITHOUT FRAMEWORK Galleri Image, Aarhus
1993 KONSTELACJA - Galeria FF, Lodz
1994 NIEBO - Galeria Chlodna 20, Suwalki
1995 KONSTELACJA 2 - Ludwig-Maximillians-Universitat, Munchen- Galerie in Rathauskeller, Landshut
  MARCOWE GODY, EDYCJA II - Muzeum Artystow, Lodz i Galeria 85, Lodz
  Galeria Sztuki Wspolczesnej Zacheta, Warszawa
  FOTOGRAFIA '97 - Palac Sztuki, Krakow

KRYTYCY LODZCY PROPONUJA - Galeria Manhattan, Lodz


Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery
Wieslaw Barszczak in Mala Gallery, Warsaw

Wieslaw Barszczak - wystawa w Malej Galerii
Wieslaw Barszczak with his son Anthony in Mala Gallery. Photo: Maciej Skawinski/GW


wystawa  Wieslawa Barszczaka - w Malej Galerii
Photo: Maciej Skawinski/GW


Wieslaw Barszczak - wystawa w Malej Galerii
Opening party at Mala Gallery. Photo: M. Grygiel


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