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SOLID IN THE LIGHT | the exhibition of painting by Maria Kiesner

current exhibition


Artist: Maria Kiesner

Place: Galeria 101 Projekt

Date: 20.05-03.06.2021

Curator: Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk


Designs, sketches and models are an integral part of the architectural and artistic implementation process. As a leaven, or an important stage leading usually to the final work, they allow you to enter the nooks and crannies of its creation, to look at the implementation "from the inside". Sometimes they even give the illusion of participating in a creative activity, watching the next steps, hesitating, searching for authors. They are something personal, intimate, often created and "left on the shelf", often hidden by creators. In recent years, sketches or models of modernist architecture have been an important inspiration for new series of Maria Kiesner's paintings - whether they were painted in lock-down, during a 14-day quarantine or earlier, which were a record of reminiscences after the "Gdynia-Tel Aviv" exhibition, which had two parts in POLIN and the Museum of the City of Gdynia (2019/2020). The series devoted to the modernist heritage of both cities is based on archival materials and photos. We saw the iconic buildings of the "white cities" in new, painterly circumstances devoid of staffage and urban surroundings (eg Rubinsky's House, objects with rounded corners, entwined with ribbon balconies at Zina Diezengoff Square, or ship-houses like Gdynia's "Banker"). The author's fascination with the heritage of modernism in Tel Aviv and Gdynia has been transformed by her into another series of works, this time inspired by building models intricately constructed by the La Skala design studio. They were created, similar to their photographic documentation by Wojtek Wilczyk, with the exhibition and catalog in mind. Some of the building designs were reflected in later implementations. Others were merely records of the utopian visions of architects. Studying mock-ups and sketches of architecture is another passion of Kiesner. The author exploits them in two ways. On the one hand, she uses archival materials and photographic documentation and creates painting 'variations' on them, on the other, she constructs her own, collage 'pieces' for paintings. Seduced by the beauty of the models, with the ideal proportions of windows, balconies, cornices, and frugal details, she abstracts them from the surroundings, incorporating their 'portraits' into backgrounds with various weather variants. Some of the paintings refer to the characteristic, cheerful colors of the "white cities of tomorrow" - the white walls, the blueness of the sea and the yellow as the color of sand and sun. Most of them are kept in quite dark and cool tones. Once we see a dark lump against the background of a serene sky, another time it is bright in a stormy entourage, expressively painted in shades of violet. The simplicity of the works emanate tension and anxiety. Similar to the previous series, the artist is intrigued by the arrangement of simple elements - verticals, levels, slants and their various color and light and shade variants. The artist selects models photographed in strong perspective shortcuts. She makes a painterly reconstruction of them, exploring tectonics, scale and proportions. The effect obtained in the painting is very different from the original. Collages and recycling of sketchbook Kiesner's paintings are painted mostly with reference to her collages. To construct them, she used unused and left by deceased artists papers, covers for drawing blocks and sketchbooks from the times of the PRL. They bear traces of those realities, e.g. printing in gray-olive shades or specific, blocked lettering. Kiesner sticks cut-outs with frames of sketches of modernist architecture from various textbooks or the Internet on the old foundations. Collages are made of scraps, workshop "garbage", random fragments of reproductions of graphics, a photocopier, a back from a drawing block, a notebook. The author spontaneously juxtaposes them with each other, cuts them, layers them, using pencil and crayons and numerous underpaintings. We see traces of stains, tears, scratches, and tape. In the draft version, she creates not only the skeleton of the composition, but also experiments with various color variants of future paintings. In consciously underdeveloped 'adjustments' with overscales and simplifications, we find afterimages of the practices of artists from the Polish School of Posters. In them, Kiesner also reveals a great fascination with architectural drawing. In the notes of architects, appreciating the first impulse, the freshness of the idea. In inconspicuous studio sketches, she is particularly intrigued by the utopian thinking left at the design stage. For over two decades, Maria Kiesner has clearly entered the landscape of contemporary art. She represents the generation of Polish artists born in the 1970s, in various ways relating to the architectural heritage of modernism and socmodernism. In mostly large-format canvases, she often captures forgotten relics of a bygone era: public utility buildings, representative buildings, intimate villas and small architecture of recreational places. In her painting reflection on the urban landscape, she searched for a new form for it. Another area of artistuc exploitation are places associated with groups, trends or creators important to it (e.g. Bauhaus, Kobro, Richter's House). Just as she used to create painting 'portraits' of architecture, using old postcards or someone else's, rasterized, imperfect photographs from popular newspapers, albums, textbooks, archives or the Internet, now she approaches models and designs of buildings by famous and less known architects with caution. Fascinated by Tel Aviv and Gdynia modernist buildings and their models, Maria Kiesner constantly seems to paint the same picture, continuing her reflections on simple solids in light. - Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk



Maria Kiesner graduated from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (diploma under the supervision of Prof. J. Modzelewski in 2002). In 2009, she defended her PhD thesis under the title "City before the storm" at the Art Department of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. In 2005 and 2007, she received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and worked at the College of Art Education of the Academy of Special Education Maria Grzegorzewska in Warsaw. In 2015/2016 she worked as an assistant in the Painting and Drawing studio of Prof. Andrzej Bieńkowski and Prof. Łukasz Korolkiewicz at the Faculty of Design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and ran a painting studio independently at the Department of Fashion at the Faculty of Design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2017, by the decision of the Council of the Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, she obtained the degree of habilitated doctor.