Set of Paintings / 2018-2020
The series Totems is related to the question of interpretation of monuments as totemic images. The monuments presented in the paintings refer to monuments which were created during the communist era. In most of them (except one – Totem I, which refers to the removed monument commemorating Karol Świerczewski), despite the efforts of various authorities, they were not demolished in the post-transformation reality and in the new political reality they functioned under changed meanings. They were often defended against liquidation by the inhabitants of the cities in which they were located (this was the case of the monument to the Red Brigades in Dąbrowa Górnicza, which is referred to in the painting Totem II). The monuments depicted in the paintings, though modeled on real monuments, are by no means realistic forms; they are figures constructed from fleshy, organic masses. The surrealist aesthetic, however, should not obscure their rootedness in current reality.
Zygmunt Bauman writes: “meat is mortal; meat is death; meat can only be seen when the body dies; if you absent meat, know that the body is dead.” But meat also indicates that the body was once alive; in a fantasy perspective, meat can even be linked to the manifestation of vitality, the revival of what was dead but which now – as a living corpse – exists like Frankenstein. Michael Serres writes about statues: “What is a statue? It is a living body covered with stones.” In the case of totemic statues, it is the stone that is covered by the fleshy… new body. The red of the muscular matter, interspersed with streaks of white fat and sinew, resembles red marble. The status of fleshiness, however, is not defined. The statues once stood unchanged, resisting the fluidity of reality, but now their time has passed and they are forced to take on a new form.