Magdalena Los: Time, Space & Opportunity
In a way, Magdalena Los’ artistic approach resembles a reality check – a process of critically examining one’s perspective on an existing situation in order to distinguish between real conditions, opinions and emotions. By putting the two questions “What do I want?” and “What can I do?” in relation to each other in her painterly and conceptual works, Los explores the particular area between these two poles.
The digital painting from which Los’ collaged worlds of images emerge, initially stands for an unlimited space of possibility: with the help of the iPad and various image editing programmes, the artist shifts her studio to a sphere that can be called up at any time, infinitely scaled, and zoomed in or out at will. In this multiple interweaving of different size categories and image layers, everyday views collide with private screenshots or references to popular film scenes, works of art and children’s stories. Los quotes, for example, from the well-known Polish poem Chrząszcz by Jan Brzechwa – a dialogue between an ox and a beetle, whose daily humming in the grass is viewed with scepticism by the ox. When asked about the usefulness of this activity, the beetle replies in turn: “What, for what? That is work. All work is worthwhile.” Thus, the alternately surreal, comic or naturalistic motifs revolve again and again around the relationship between work, time and value, with humour and seriousness always in balance. This is also evident in the accompanying titles, such as Analysis Paralysis or When you are in your own lane, there is no traffic, which on the one hand are reminiscent of platitudes and trivial calendar idioms, while on the other they pick up on states of brokenness and crisis.
Not infrequently, the female figures in Los’ imaginary spaces refer to a psychological as well as physical interior – an intimate moment of being thrown back onto oneself. The figurative mode of representation serves Los as a means of finding an image or figure for certain longings and desires. In this sense, the term figuring always also corresponds to a figuring-out, i.e. a “finding, grasping, experiencing and wanting to know,” in order to come closer to the intangible.
Los places some of these pictures in a wider pictorial space. For this, she uses the image genre of the digital installation view as it circulates on online portals and social media channels. Following the photographic conventions of depiction, Los inserts the images perspectively in such a way that they reveal fragmented views of the Bonner Kunstverein’s large exhibition hall. The result is a virtual form of presentation of Los’ works in the space of the large exhibition hall, which the artist appropriates without actually exhibiting in them. It is a gesture that manifests itself as a subtle rupture because it draws attention to the differences between the exhibition hall and the foyer space and the framework conditions of the institution. In this way, Los makes it clear that this particular area between “What do I want?” and “What can I do?” is always permeable.
Text by Susanne Mierzwiak
1 Cf. Jutta Koether: Figuring, in: Texte zur Kunst, Heft 122, June 2021, p. 87.