Untitled (a Pepe Espaliú), 2008
Czarna Gallery, Warsaw
installation: corridor 250 x 700 cm, 3080 paintings 10 x 10 cm, pencil graphite on canvas
 – exhibition view  

The presentation consists of 3080 almost identical, 10x10cm paintings – all hanging in a long, narrow corridor. The technicalities, however, may distort the essential meaning of this work, which resides not as much in a manner of arrangement, as in the fact of its being evocative of a certain type of experience - an uncomfortable and intimidating one, at that. The viewer goes for it having decided to enter. 

The corridor’s walls and ceiling are closely covered with graphite ‘tiles’ the artist made herself – it must be passed through. The impression of the situation’s low potential is superficial and goes upon the realisation of the simple fact that three thick, unprotected layers of pencil graphite on each ‘tile’, all tightly placed one next to another - considering the sheer amount of lead – might, in fact, pose a hazard. With that in mind, it takes some determination to proceed. What lies ahead is, therefore, essentially a rite of passage through ones’ own fears and insecurities. 

As far as the spatial arrangement is concerned, the work is reminiscent of Bruce Nauman’s ‘corridors’ from 1960’s. The difference is that Anna Okrasko’s is much more personal and intimate; on the one hand drawing from her hospital-time experience, while on the other, it is deeply rooted in her previous artistic quest, which for the purpose could be described as the discourse in direction of European art ‘conventions. 

Still at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where she studied painting under Leon Tarasewicz, one of her projects took form of graffiti quoting this and that picked up from the usual misogynist chatter of Academy’s students and professors, which she spray-patterned right along the school’s corridors. It was then, if not earlier, when painting and art in general ceased for her to be solely aesthetic issue. Her subsequent projects, in which she distinctly revealed affinity and adherence to the theoretical heritage of Conceptualism, in its stress put upon the creative process itself. In this spirit, she started serial production of pictures to be sold via e-bay. That and the likes all boiled down to form a statement on the part of the artist, in which she disclaims the contemporary painting. The project directly preceding current show at “Czarna”, which involved painstaking production of monochromatic ball-point-pen images (with as many as 1500 pieces used up in the process) confirmed her transfer from the “young-and-promising” into mainstream of minimalist art. 

Her current work is intensely materialistic (as could be observed in the one on presentation, which took 6 months to produce) and at the same time permeated with its creator’s deeply felt conviction that art is the common space, an open process of inter-human communication and that it is not about the artistic product popping down at the end of the assembly line – it is all about the bruises, scars and heavy marks that art is supposed to imprint upon souls.

Łukasz Gorczyca


photo credit: Agnieszka Czarnecka