Henryk Morel / Jack O’Brien
The Influence of Emotions on Associated Reactions
Londyńska 13, Warsaw
March 26 – May 14, 2022
Galeria Pola Magnetyczne is pleased to announce the opening of Jack O’Brien and Henryk Morel’s The Influence of Emotions on Associated Reactions.
The Influence of Emotions on Associated Reactions plays with the title that Polish artist Henryk Morel gave to his graduation thesis, defended in June 1963 under the title The Influence of Associations on Emotional Reactions. His thesis went hand in hand with an exhibition that presented five white spatial forms associated with four panels. The images on the panels, grouped by themes – such as destruction, with armed troops or industrial machinery – referred to the reactions of a group of people to whom Morel had previously shown his spatial forms. English artist Jack O’Brien, by modifying the title of Morel’s thesis, not only wanted to emphasize the importance of an emotive way of approaching sculpture, but also wanted to make emotion the cause – and no longer just the effect – of associations, of reactions. Emotions are fully part of the artistic process: what provokes them, what is provoked by them.
For this exhibition, Jack O’Brien selected eleven works on paper by Henryk Morel from the archives of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Carried out in 1958-1960, these unknown works propose – by showing his emotional state at the time – another approach to his practice as a sculptor. There are many ways of expressing oneself in the context of the post-war period of the “thaw”. These drawings are associated with six sculptures by O’Brien made between 2018 and 2022, which deal with issues related to violence and desire, sex, sexuality and certain struggles for the recognition of rights (following the AIDS epidemic in particular). The
non-obvious association of Morel’s drawings and O’Brien’s sculptures show how they both reacted to different political and social contexts in collateral ways: challenging the materials, forms, topics, insisting on the importance of intuition, improvisation and emotion.
Henryk Morel (1937-1968) is a Polish artist who mainly worked with sculpture and installation. Trained at the Secondary School of Artistic Techniques in Zakopane under the direction of Antoni Kenar (1953-1957) and at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (1957-1963) under the direction of Ludwika Nitschowa and then of Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, of which he will become assistant, Henryk Morel made a name for himself with his contrasting steel/metal and pneumatic rubber sculptures built in 1966 in Puławy (Houses III and IV), and in 1967 in Elbląg (series xxx), as well as with collaborative multidisciplinary participatory installations, as in 1966 in Warsaw, Galeria Foksal (5x), or in 1967 in Zielona Góra (Multisensual Perception Space). Henryk Morel remained, after his untimely death, very influential for the Polish artistic scene. His works are now to be found in private and public collections, which include, among others, those of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, of the Łódź Art Museum, and of the Wroclaw Museum of Architecture.
Jack O’Brien (b. 1993) is an English artist and curator who lives and works in London. Trained in Fine Arts at Kingston University (2011-2014), O’Brien sculptures combine solid and fragile materials, such as leather and glass, steel and fabrics, and distorts them to engage our desires, and in particular our sexual desires, including experiences of homosexuality. In his
exhibition Waiting For The Sun To Kill Me, held at Ginny on Frederick in London (2021), the imaginary of cruising was for instance especially present, and could be seen as a subversion of public space. O’Brien addresses with violent informed gesture, the troubled interplay of desire and brutality that objects or materials might hold – referring to capitalism today,
with its modes of production and consumption. Artist in residence in Warsaw (2017) with the artistic collective Kem, The Influence of Emotions on Associated Reactions is his first exhibition in a Polish gallery.
An essay by Guillaume Rouleau and an interview with Jack O’Brien accompany the exhibition.