„Not those eyes anymore” is the first duo exhibition at Pani Domu – an artist-run gallery located in Poznan, Poland. The exhibition presents paintings by Mateusz Piestrak and Krzysztof Mętel that were created in response to the passing of an elderly co-tenant. The artworks refer to the past of the historic apartment, as well as to the personal stories collected by the artists over the years of their daily residence in this place. In a selected set of works, the artists reflect on the boundaries between memory and imagination and find symbolic or fantastic meanings in everyday objects.
For the last five years, our everyday painting work has been accompanied by the sounds of the home bustle of Mrs. Maria, our neighbor, coming from behind the wall. But perhaps it would rather be said that it was in her life that for its last short moment two unusual roommates appeared – just next to many others who, over the dacades, had occupied the next rooms in her spacious family apartment. She could talk about all of them for hours: those who lived here before us ruined their sweet home at the spite of the administration, others used to borrow and spoil various equipment in her absence, though certainly the worst of them was that secret informer, whose sudden appearance made her father sleepless. She herself has not been sleeping well lately due to the sounds of mysterious guests hanging around at the door at night. It was because of them that her key has had more and more problems with hitting the slot of the lock properly.
When we passed each other on the steps of the tenement house, she did not notice our faces. Later, she apologized for not responding to our greetings – “… not those eyes anymore.” Through the windows of her living room, however, she could spot every tiniest change that had taken place in the area over the years. Standing on the threshold of her apartment, she was able to tell endless stories about a small world in which she saw the outskirts of the city filling up with new settlements, and these – with new faces and memories.
She used to practice her memory by solving crossword puzzles or testing herself with her favorite game show before going to bed. The buzzing sounds of participants dropping off one by one, coming from behind the wall, often escorted us to the exit after a busy day in the studio.
The memory accumulated over the years was swept away in a few days. From now on, its place will be taken by imagination – the new lady of this house. The paintings that we have been putting aside in the studio so far will now be hanged on the other side of the wall. Soon, new guests will visit us and the apartment will be filled with other stories. You are all invited. Just don’t mess with the locks.