Bathing in Red and Breathing White

  Marta Smolińska

As Maria Rzepińska remarks, the debates of experts in aesthetics and psychology on the matter of colours feature ‘a frequently recurring question whether a single colour is sensed as an aesthetically autonomous quality or its aesthetic sensation requires a concretisation, incarnation into matter and inclusion into a structure of a certain set’.1 In Krzysztof Gliszczyński’s works on display at the exhibition ‘Iosis et Leucosis, i.e. Reddening and Whitening’ red is concretised, incarnated into matter and included within the structure of a set which sees the exploration and dynamisation of a variety of its properties. Colour red, sitting alongside yellow and blue in the triad of basic colours in painting, acquires in the works of the author of ‘Mythology of Red’ a new, individual yet not entirely autonomous life – for it is strictly related to the contexts where it emerges, the kinds of matter into which it is incarnated and with which it undergoes concretisation. In each painting, drawing and object we need to sense it from scratch, while retaining the status of an inexperienced phenomenologist of colour, who receives the pulse of red to the core.

For ages charged with rich symbolic tradition, for Gliszczyński red becomes a force inviting to discover it anew; both being aware of the history of red and having forgotten that history to see it entirely ‘afresh’, launch its potential as if from scratch. Going beyond the surface of the painting and expanding the spectrum of painting with objects and films, the artist develops particularly favourable circumstances for this remarkable colour to make itself manifest and operate – not only on the canvas surface, but also in spatial forms. Therefore, red can be selfsame with the line of drawings, highly expressive and providing a record of painting gestures marking traces on the white backdrop, but it can also occur as matter complemented with wax and ‘swamping’ books in order to turn them into uncanny objects, de-contextualised and deprived of their primary function.

1 Maria Rzepińska, Historia koloru w dziejach malarstwa europejskiego, vol. 1, Warsaw 1989, p. 23.