Consciousness of Existence
The pictorial worlds of Sabina Woźnica are an example of expressive synergy between the form of a work and the ambiguity springing from the artist’s personal reflections. Regardless of whether the impulse for creative inquiries is observation of ambient reality, inspiration by the world of ‘here and now’, or philosophical and literary tropes, Woźnica’s painting is characterized by artistic authenticity and consistency in choices made. Her most recent cycle of works – Consciousness of Existence – represents a successful exemplification of her credo as a painter. This cycle, comprised of over a dozen canvases of diverse formats, evokes questions concerning the nature of the world and human perception, the legitimacy of conventional concepts of time and space, the role that our consciousness plays forming judgments concerning ambient reality. Teleportation, Superposition, Illusiveness of Time and Space, Beginning, Tunnel Vision are just a few of the works’ titles that suggest the aforementioned issues. As the artist herself admits, her painting contains echoes of biocentrism – a concept based on critical analysis of the dogmas of Western science. According to the premise of the creators – of this one, furthermore, of many ‘theories of everything’ – it is observations from the field of biology (and not, as had previously been contended, of physics) that were to become the crowning argument in discussions concerning the determination of the universe’s logic. The peculiar ‘decalogue’ of cognition formulated by the researchers focuses on such categories as probability and possibility, variability and cognitive subjectivism, and shifts the center of gravity from what is observed to the observer. Such a viewpoint means that it is the mechanisms of the perceptive process and our consciousness that will find themselves in the center of interest. A type of artistic equivalent of these issues is to be found, for instance, in such compositions as My Consciousness, Universe and Observer and Reality Is When Consciousness Exists. The first of these mentioned is, furthermore, an example of an interesting formal play containing something of a spirit of Surrealism: in this schematically-presented portrait, two images of birds are inscribed into the outline of the human face – are they are a sort of artistic alter ego? As Irish thinker and philosopher George Berkeley wrote, ‘What do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations.’. Could a linear concept of time and conventional understanding of space thus represent just an illusion? And – as some contend – be in reality a conventional construct, a projection of our own mind just serving to interpret the world? We shall find such tropes expressed in pictorial language in the work entitled Illusiveness of Time and Space, which makes use of abstract forms and is maintained in a similar, cold color range to that of the composition Eternal Sea of Time and Space. Similar issues, furthermore, were the object of the artist’s interest even earlier – we could mention here, for instance Orient – Space Structure and Occident – Time Structure, which come from a cycle painted in 2013. It is also not for the first time that what becomes the point of departure for artistic inquiries is non-pictorial inspirations: literary texts – for instance, in a series of works based on the prose of Gabriel García Márquez, philosophical treatises or, as is the case with her most recent output, scientific analysis of structures and perceptions of the world. However, this correspondence of word and image is never a simple illustration, a literal pictorial ‘translation’. It is rather impulses liberating reserves of artistic creativity, provoking a peculiar dialogue of thoughts and images. Inspirations serving the artist to express inner experiences, inquiries, intuitions and associations in pictorial qualities. As she herself admits, ‘The common denominator for my painting and performance art is a method of visualization; that which is seen and experienced, I process directly onto the canvas; […] I think I have worked out my own language of improvisation. For me, pictorial improvisation – during the creative process – is a result of merging ‘self’ with form, color and material; at the same time, the painting’s composition always remains open, frozen in time.’ What remains an extraordinarily essential element of this pictorial universe is color, which is an important medium of emotion and expression for the artist. Dynamic arrangements of color fields and lines, non-uniform paint texture, sweeping brush strokes and intentionally schematic shapes are means of expression that build the inner tension and energy of the paintings being created. Her intriguing pictorial language is complemented by utilization of non-traditional materials such as sawdust, wax or sand; such solutions – also present in her earlier works – can be found, for example, in such compositions as Superposition 2 and Biomorphic Venus, in the latter of which, furthermore, the artist slipped in a clear quote from Botticelli’s painting. In turn, Beginning – a work presenting a human figure in embryonic position, inscribed into an arrangement of concentric lines (a symbolic act of birth?) – was painted on an old support base. This is also a procedure used by the artist in the past, like the spiral line and bird motifs that appear many times, of which the artist made use in earlier works from the Idea Generator series. Readily utilized in the most recent cycle of works as well, the bird motif is either barely suggested, captured in an abbreviated manner, or displayed in a form taking on clear shapes, as in the composition Tunnel Vision. According to the artist’s intention, it appears in the role of a symbolic observer, a link between different worlds. The reservoir of constantly-recurring motifs is also complemented by the infinity sign and by forms bringing to mind elements of the macro- and microcosmos: burning suns, planets or atomic particles. All together, they represent a peculiar pictorial alphabet of signs (and meanings) of which the artist makes use. Additional threads are provided by the work Water and Fire Bird, the explanation of which is connected to a performance put on by the artist, devoted to Tibetan self-immolation rituals. This is not, furthermore, the first time in her œuvre that allusions to Eastern culture appear. A fascination with these problems that flows out of the painter’s personal interests has meant that they have become a permanent element of her artistic reflections. Woźnica does not just evoke threads associated with Buddhist philosophy in her works; sometimes, her projects are a commentary on current events and contemporary conflicts – as was the case in the Tibet Shall Be Free print series. In this context, therefore, it is perhaps not entirely by chance that the artist became interested in the previously-mentioned theory of biocentrism. Though its creators are characterized by a rational and empirical attitude, some of the premises they promote are close to the teachings of Eastern mysticism. It is also, furthermore, not the first such case where Western rationalism meets Eastern spirituality. However, regardless of what inspires the artist at a given moment, her works are of coherent and well thought-out character. Sabina Woźnica has worked out a personal painting formula appropriate to her artistic temperament and sensibility. Deftly linking curiosity about the world and courage in posing questions with an intriguing formal language as well as faithfulness to creative choices, she thereby achieves a peculiar consciousness of (artistic) existence.