Plain Field – text by Alicja Kubicka
I like browsing through books. I collect illustrations from them and use them in my paintings. In this way, illustrative motifs can wander – from a sheet of paper, where perception takes place in in the same amount of time it takes to turn a page – onto the canvas that functions in the architectural space, stuck to the wall, in a state of eternal openness to being perceived. What is small becomes big. The north meets the south – in the Middle Ages, books were illuminated in northern Europe because the climate was not conducive to wall painting, which, in turn, flourished in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. In the north, paintings were closed in leather-bound volumes, while in the south, they were integrated with buildings and the space inside them in the form of frescoes. There were two different types of painting, different types of perception, conditioned by latitude and depending on the landscape, sunlight and diet – everything that made up the neurobiological structure of the creators of culture who, after all, inhabited their bodies, always unequally privileged in accordance with the nature of this world.
I would not like to inhabit books. This is why I extract illustrations from them and try to integrate them, enlarged, with my surroundings. I mean, I would literally not want to live in a leather-bound volume but I would also not like to live in a fictional, literary world. Fiction is there to complement reality, not to produce it. And the one who illustrates must submit to history, reality and the sociocultural context. Artists, like gypsies, move with their historical and cultural fleet across the field, the shape and fate of which they cannot decide. In the end, they are assigned – like criminals – those who are called curators to cooperate with them.
On my canvases, a negotiation is going on: whether to present or to illustrate; whether to tell a story; whether to be tasty or raw; whether to brag; whether to point a finger; whether to laugh; whether to be serious; whether to do a lot or a little; whether to be cynical or kind? What is this language? What is the difference, as Francis Bacon asked, between a painting projecting a problem directly onto the recipient’s nervous system and the one that also communicates something, but follows a roundabout way of illustration? How is it possible for us to see something and understand the meaning of it? What is it like with perception – do we see the world as if we are staring out of a window? Or perhaps the world just obscures what is essential and true, as Giacometti suggested with his sculpture Pointe à l’oeil (Spike in the Eye)? It is a question about the vector of vision, the direction of our being – do we push or withdraw, and how does the world relate to it?
Ultimately, it is always about producing affect. To take care of a painting = to transfer it to oneself. Another nice metaphor. And painting? It is probably there to (unfortunately) expose oneself to being seen, and (worse) under the guise of modesty. Crafting things – anything you like to watch, listen to, wear, and so on, is an option. It is there for more than existence to happen; it is there for something extra to happen. So, you may make things, and you may not, and it seems impossible to figure out which is better. So, we choose between existing and existing with a tiny plus (which can be, for example, painting a picture on canvas).
Creating is not necessarily the same as living your life. When I create, I do not experience, but I rummage in the foundations of what I have already experienced. Always squeezed between action and meaning, I work to produce this existential surplus of mine, looking for an unattainable, as it seems to me, compromise, which is a nice place between creation and life. Where is it, if not at work? It can be said that paintings are like projections on curtains, or that they stare at us, or that they have a presence, or that they prevent us from seeing something, or that they make it possible to perceive something. For me, paintings are an excuse to do a job that gives me hope that someday I will find out how I should live.