19 May 2004 – 18 June 2004

“I do not like rules and regulations, they kill imagination.” Magdalena Abakanowicz has never conformed to any aesthetic norms. Riszard Stanislawski says that she brought courage to Polish culture, specifically in the context of the former political situation. We may add that she also brought humility; humility for the greatness of nature, for the spiritual history of mankind and its values. Even the concept of her first abakans”, huge textile objects and installations, was provocative. She endowed flax with a new meaning, creating organic forms as if they were living organisms. The series of monumental sculptures – Seated Figures, Backs and Crowd – is shaped from sackcloth hardened with resin. The artist composes torsos and fragments of figures, creating open-air installations. The concept of the “crowd”, the symbol of a suppressed individual, is magically connected with the initiation ceremonies of ancient cultures and with the manipulation of man by the modern age. Later she used stone and wood combined with metal and cast in bronze. Her totems, mounds, sarcophagi and animals exploit the iconic form. Its variations permeate cultures, acquiring new semantic messages. We can recall torsos of the crowd in the tombs of the Egyptian kings or the clay army of the First Emperor of China but also the Holocaust, war victims or the alienation of modern “digitised” man.

Curator: Henryk Gatz