When Things Find Their Place, 2013 (solo exhibition)

(Phot. Bartosz Górka)
BWA Zielona Góra, 2013

An embroidered curtain hanged on a metal structure marks a half-open space, like a thick rope wrapped tightly with textile straps that crosses a space. Shiny strings of curtains undulate slightly in a spell and blankets with irregular pattern softly float above the floor. Woven and plaited patterns lose their order and the coloured lines embroidered on the fabric are actually an enlarged form that kids usually sketch before they learn to write. Metal rods wrapped with coloured pieces of material form a three-dimensional drawing. Things taken out of context lose their functionality but their simplistic, modified or scaled forms seem strangely familiar. The sculptures create new places, which may serve as a potential refuge and a private space of transformed memories.

Works of Alicja Bielawska are situated on the border between the experience of everyday life, associations and memorized details. Aberration from what we take for given, common, everyday leads the artist to careful observation and raises questions about the relativity of perception and memory. The exhibition is a showcase for the series of sculptures and works on paper realised recently.


The exhibition When things will find their place showcases new works: sculptures, silkscreen prints and collages which have been created in the past year and a half. The title of the exhibition is a statement and at the same time a question not fully defined in time and place. This title provokes questions about the order of things around us that we try to determine, about the meanings we give to things, about how they function in our memories, about the place they take in our private mythology of reality and in the order of our memories. Some works include the word ‘between’ in their title, which refers to their status as an object that does not belong to everyday life, yet refers to it. One that is located on the edge of what is memorized and partly forgotten, and then restored. Right in this zone things begin to loop, bend and break.


Contrary to what it might appear like, this exhibition is not about the fabric, but rather about the issues that are connected with it, its associations with everyday life, touch, gesture. Sculptures have a similar approach to fabric and use it in different ways, from the use of found objects, such as string curtains to woven blankets, which were realized according to my design. Yet each of these works also applies to simple gestures, such as revealing, uncovering, covering, wrapping, braiding. The works on paper are focused on two themes which are also present in the sculptures. One is a grid pattern, its interlacing lines refer to the activity of weaving. Grid and net are the starting point for me, from the imposed order to the disruption, from a predictable structure to the unlimited possibilities of mistakes that are likely within it, and which can deform it. In the collages intertwining lines of the grid overlap or penetrate the drawings of not fully defined objects and outlined space, and the expected order of the lines is disrupted. Similarly, in the work consisting of two blankets that seem normal everyday objects, a grid pattern in two areas is slightly deformed. Error occurs in what is familiar, tame and common. The second theme is inspired by the patterns drawn by children before they start learning how to write. In silkscreen prints these patterns are overlapping, blurring their readability and making new ones out of them. These patterns also appear on the embroidered curtain, which is suspended on a metal frame wrapped in colourful fabrics. Transferred to the fabric, they still form a line, a figure, but at the same time they are a part of a larger whole which defines the space around them. The construction, which can be a partition, screen, coat rack, drying rack, bar, ladder, carpetbeating rack, tent frame was wrapped in scraps of materials and interlaced with lines of scaled patterns.


I’m interested in the material sphere of everyday life, in the things that surround us and the materials from which they are made. In the case of works presented at the exhibition I used mainly fabrics. Other materials, such as metal rods are the framework for soft fabrics. I used clothing and fabrics cut into narrow strips to wrap around the metal frame and ropes. Different colours, textures, patterns break their shapes and give them an extra lightness. In addition to the nature of the material and related associations, I am also interested in the production process of the fabric. Two blankets and the embroidered curtain were made according to my design in workshops of the TextileMuseum in Tilburg in the Netherlands, where I took part in their production.


Although most of my works relate to objects of daily use, such as a screen or a blanket, I am not interested in their practical side, to which moreover they do not aspire due to their delicacy or the change of form. Everyday objects are often a source of inspiration to me, but they do not have the meanings of the sculptures which are a poetic transformation of forms. 


My sculptures placed in specific interiors refer to them, but they also create and define the space around them. They begin to exist when they are viewed and the viewer is confronted with their size and creates a relationship with them. Dimensions of sculptures refer to the size of a viewer, they have a human scale. Several layers of tightly wrapped fabrics create an irregular rope of patterns and colours pulled through the interior and hanging within a hand’s reach. A large construction covered with fabrics in several colours creates a different space. It is a three-dimensional drawing, in which you can enter and view it from different sides, each time changing the perspective and the arrangement of the lines.


The activity of doing exercises appears in my work, both in the titles, as well as in their themes, such as pre-school children’s drawings – to repeat the same pattern, which is to prepare them for writing letters. These different patterns have a direct relationship with the shapes of letters or their fragments, but repeating them in a continuous line forms a drawing, which can be changed into something else. In my work I draw these patterns, duplicate, layer, and scale them. I am interested in repetition, which paradoxically allows for the appearance of errors, deviations that may lead outside the designated lines. Some sculptures are entitled ‘exercise’ and like three-dimensional drawings, they are trying to sketch, mark the space. They refer to an important activity – practicing of looking – particularly paying attention to and looking at the details. 

Alicja Bielawska