New Spirituality – artists and artworks
Group exhibition by Polish artists
Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre
28 October 2022– 19 February 2023
Curator: Eulalia Domanowska
Paweł Dudko, Jacek Jagielski, Ida Karkoszka, Daniel Koniusz, Katarzyna Krzykawska, Ryszard Ługowski, Małgorzata Niedzielko, Paweł Nowak, Justyna Sołomianko, Iza Tarasewicz, Katarzyna Zabłocka, Nicolas Grospierre.
Paweł Dudko has created a virtual “Totem”. The name refers to the idea of a revered deity, a protector, a virtue, or a belief. The author believes it can represent anything, from the closest of kin – family, friends and loved ones – to material values, wealth, career, and purely abstract virtues, spirits or deities. Dudko’s “Totem” is a conceptual deliberation on the subject of spirituality in modern society.
Nicolas Grospierre travelled to Daugavpils in October 2012 to photograph the town where Mark Rothko was born and which he left in 1910 at the age of ten, never to return. He created “Daugavpils/Dvinsk/Dyneburg/Borisoglebsk” – four photo objects in an experimental technique already shown at the Mark Rothko exhibition in the National Museum in Warsaw in 2013. The viewer sees a photograph in a Plexiglas box, but there is no single vantage point from which one can actually distinguish what the pictures represent. The artist created an experience for the viewer to accept this absence of visibility. This way, the author tried to express the divide that separated Rothko from his birthplace.
Jacek Jagielski’s works, to quote from the artist, “refer to individual human attitudes, outlooks and behaviours. (…) They draw attention to our sense of independence and freedom, including freedom of thought and the choices we make.” The artist creates magical objects, often in a state of unstable equilibrium, as his personal commentary on physical and philosophical phenomena. Jacek Jagielski is a Professor at the University of Art in Poznań.
Ida Karkoszka is a Warsaw-based sculptor whose art is about the human relationship with the world. She refers to social issues, ecological problems and animal rights. Her sculpture “This Will Be Our Secret” alludes to the problem of paedophilia in the Church. She has found her own very personal way of pointing out the problems caused by destructive human activity.
Daniel Koniusz’s sound installation can be understood on many levels. First of all, as a story about an unknown yet perceived danger. This subtle threat is difficult to discern directly. It is like a magic eye following us and having the power to influence our fate and physicality. This seemingly harmless situation of infrasound action is meant to refer symbolically and physically to the tools of oppression and weapons used not only by the police and other services against citizens (to suppress demonstrations, etc.) but also in modern wars.
Katarzyna Krzykawska studied the situation in San Francisco, where only thirty-five per cent of the population identifies with one of the world’s major religions. At the same time, the place has over a thousand different spiritual groups, communities, associations and collectives, most of which have arisen in the last fifty years. The work “Stream” is based on personal experience and is documentary in nature. The names on the screen and in the flyers are those of more than sixty groups, communities, associations and spiritual collectives the artist visited after moving to the San Francisco cultural circle. The vast majority of them locate themselves outside mainstream religions or in their far spectrum. Definitions and names include words such as church, temple, spiritual, meditation, life, experience, soul, love and energy. Attentiveness to nature and the other is often emphasised, and almost constantly – self-acceptance and belief in one’s power and worth.
Ryszard Ługowski has been interested in Buddhism, Zen philosophy and the music of Buddhist monks since the start of his creative career in the 1980s. Gong concerts have been a regular part of his creative activities for several years. His work relies on contemplation, meditation and profound reflection on the state of the world today. The latest installation called “Stable Instability 2022” and shown at the Mark Rothko Art Centre continues his recent reflections as he looks for parallels in the laws of physics, cosmological laws and the general laws of existence on the one hand and the situations occurring in interpersonal and social relationships on the other. Broadly speaking, he explores the relationship between humans and the Universe.
Ługowski states: “In this sense, I divide the whole into a classical dialectical triad: thesis, antithesis and synthesis, where the thesis is an object – the Earth Sphere with a form hanging above it resembling a pendulum, missile or bomb and symbolising a threat. The antithesis is the Buddha contemplating the semblance of reality – the pendulum reflected in the mirror. I am reaching for a completely different paradigm here, a different spirituality. Meanwhile, the synthesis is the three ‘cosmic’ spheres in mutual tension, all dependent on one another to maintain this state of apparent stability.”
The world of forms, sculptures and installations created by Małgorzata Niedzielko is, to some extent, a personal reflection on her self-image. She sees nature as a world of great richness and mystery but also a world in mortal danger. For this exhibition, she has chosen a piece called “Anhedonia”, a term used in psychology and psychiatry. It means a reduced ability to feel pleasure and joy. In this state, we lose the joy of life and fall into apathy, which wraps us in indifference. The condition may be aggravated by a personal tragedy or even simply by the change of seasons, like the autumn die-off in the garden, but also by social and political moods, climate change and other impactful external conditions beyond our control.
Paweł Nowak has repeatedly referred to human existence and the spiritual world in his creative practice. His other theme is his personal story, wherein he devotes much of his work to his family. For this exhibition, he created a triptych composed of once beautiful petals of dead flowers, a brain sculpture and some drawings. The blue colour symbolises spiritual life.
Justyna Sołomianko has used sacred geometry, which combines pre-Christian traditions and also appears in various modern religions, from Christianity to Islam and Hinduism. For her, sacred geometry is a search for a new spirituality with forgotten traditions and ancient symbols.
Iza Tarasewicz’s sculpture “Boom” can also be described as a totem or a magical figure of some idol and a storehouse of energy. The golden colour scheme may refer to the Byzantine idea of eternity and light cast by faith. But the artist primarily creates works to oppose the global forces of capitalism sucking the power out of people. The artist also expresses concern about the state of our planet.
Katarzyna Zablocka lives two hundred meters from the Polish-Belarusian border, where a refugee drama has been playing out for more than a year. People fleeing violence, poverty, persecution, and even death are being tormented by Belarusian and Polish border guards. The author has heard the cries of adult men and seen the suffering of women and children. As a dedication to their situation, Zabłocka made artworks from herbs and grasses she collected in a no-access border zone. The gathering enabled her to document and monitor what was going on. She talks about cruelty through beautiful images woven from nature. Zabłocka’s works also express bitterness and a sense of disappointment. The collage she’s called “Dormition” externalises her resentment towards God and Mary, whom she accuses of falling asleep and failing to see what is happening. 
Partners: Marshal of Podlaskie Voivodeship, City of Białystok, Salon Akademia Gallery in Warsaw, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, The University of Technology in Bialystok, The University of Art named after Magdalena Abakanowicz in Poznań, Siedlce University of Sciences and Humanities, Alumni Association Bialystok University of Technology.
 From a text by Kaja Kojder