THE LIVING DEAD
Re:Medium Gallery – Municipal Art Gallery in Łodzi
20.12.2019 – 1.02.2020
curator: Adriana Michalska
At the end of 2019, from 20 December, you will be able to see the works of the Krakow artist Radek Szlęzak in the City Art Gallery in Łódź. The exhibition title „The Living Dead” refers to objects, and more precisely to monuments placed in public space, which as a result of the process of changing, manipulating, and removing undesirable events, heroes or symbols from collective memory, were doomed to be erased. It is worth noting that the word “pomnik” [monument] etymologically derives from the word “pomnieć”, which means “remember”. Thus, they are incorporated in memory relations. In this sense, the “living dead” are indoctrinated images that symbolise fallen ideas, doomed to extinction. They cannot, however, be easily removed and they return in a new form: either as objects having completely new meanings, originally unplanned for them, or as images-remains, physically wounded and damaged.
Oftentimes, the destruction process has negative connotations. Yet, at the same time and paradoxically, as a fact having its own visual representation, it is related to an involuntary creative gesture. Thus, it becomes creation, development of a new structure. Therefore, the gesture of removal creates new images. The act of iconoclast can be reflected in immaterial documentation of the world of media which function as a transmitter of modern lifestyle, affecting both man and the entire shape of modern human culture. Media become the tool of political marketing, manipulation of the recipient, through using the message for political or propaganda purposes. Sometimes destruction assumes performative nature, becoming a means of communication, handling a dialogue of emotions and meanings, provoking polemics, thanks to which it becomes an important voice in the discussion on the state and condition of our community.
Exhibition of the works titled „The Living Dead” is the first opportunity for the audience in Łódź to become acquainted with the works of Radek Szlęzak. The exhibition covers both the latest works as well as the earlier ones, which fit into the concept of the whole presentation. The most recent cycles from 2019 are among others: „Zeitgeist”, „Powidoki historii” [„Afterimages of History”], „Totemy” [„Totems”], „Domnatio memoriae”, „A Specter is Haunting the World”, „Życie wewnętrzne „ [„Inner Life”], „Żarłoczne oko” [„Gluttonous Eye”].
In his works, Radek Szlęzak deals mainly with the subject of historical updating and outdating of paintings, shaping process concerning political memory and the struggle for domination in public space. The artist keeps close to the stylistics of David Cronenberg’s films, using the means of expression typical of bodily horror – the threat coming from inside the human body is of crucial importance here. The paintings created by Radek Szlęzak do not imitate reality. They are living paintings – organisms that assume the form of bodily and organic metaphors and acquire new meanings through the exposition of ideological, semantic, aesthetic, and political dimensions.
Adriana Michalska // translated by: Zofia Piwowarska