Visual artist working in photography and experimental videos and installations. Born in 1937 in Żywiec. In years 1957-1963 Natalia LL - born Natalia Lach-Lachowicz - studied at the PWSSP (current the Academy of Fine Arts) in Wrocław. She has been a member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers (ZPAF) since 1964.
Natalia LL's entire, unusually abundant and multifaceted oeuvre might take its motto from a reflection contained in one of her texts from 1987, "Art is the search for freedom. Freedom is a goal in and of itself, and art realizes that goal."
As a student she was involved in photography, graphics and painting. In the 1970s she broadened her scope to include performance art, experimental films, videos, installations and sculptures. In 1970 together with Andrzej Lachowicz and Zbigniew Dłubak she created the Perfamo Gallery, which was active till 1981. Since 1975 Natalia LL has contributed to the global feminist movement through works that explore the reaches of femininity and feminism.
In the early '70s Natalia LL's work built conceptual meanings upon seemingly straightforward messages. Intimate Photography - an installation derived from pop-art - had a strikingly erotic overtones that bordered on the edge of pornography. These first projects were created in 1971 and 1972, titled Consumer Art and Post-consumer Art. Here the model performs activities associated with consumption - mainly the literal consumption of suggestive foods, such as bananas, whipped cream, milk. These images were presented as a kind of photographic performances - much like a film. At this point, the artist used photography as a kind of imaginary language to reach a dreamlike realm where these acts were reduced to the level of pure aesthetics and sensual experience. Themes of "non-reality" become all the more palpable in her other works - Śnienie / Dreaming and Piramidy/ Pyramids, which were related to traumatic personal (life threatening) experiences. Natalia LL herself appears in many of her projects (eg. Przestrzeń wizyjna / Sphere of Vision, 1973).
The artist created very suggestive, imaginative, somewhat disturbing pieces under the title Puszysta tragedia / Downy Tragedy. They present the demonic, bloodthirsty artist swallowing dolls. At the turn of the 80s and 90s, Natalia LL brought out a series of expressionist paint-photography and photography works, such as Trwoga paniczna / Panicked Fear. These works can be considered among the highest achievements of Polish "staged photography". Pain, suffering, physical transformation of the body inextricably links to questions of the nature of Evil (Satan) and Good (God); the emergence of life and the inevitability of death.
In the first half of the '90s Natalia LL created installations in which she used her earlier photographic works (such as the aforementioned Consumer Art). They were presented in forms of slides projected on a white canvas. Her work is a constant competition between classical (conceptual, geometric) and expressive forms. The artist has a rare ability to combine chaos and order in one piece, such as in Palto's forms which is the best exemplification of her art. However, Natalia LL's 90's creativity is not eclectic. Despite the use of her earlier work, she discovers new qualities (values), replacing their current character (eg. Consumer Art or Sphere of Panic). She can easily operate with any material (eg. fabric), which not only shows her professionalism, but also demonstrates a wide repertoire of skills gathered thanks to a proper academic education.
The most important in her work seems to be the impact of conceptualism and body art. Her work combines intellectualism with biological changes, which also force to question the basis of existence and human nature. The artist had the courage to abandon photo-medialism and eventually feminism to embark on further exploration of true art. The artistic idea, together with her artistic development increasingly takes up on existential and metaphysical issues. In her 1997 Dusza drzewa / Spirit of the tree she makes use of the Far East concept of reincarnation to explore natural and supernatural themes.
From the begining of the Twentieth Century, her art has provided independent commentary comments on vital social and political issues, but at the same time she remains focused on her own personal problems, mainly referring to the traditions of body art. This direction, in addition to conceptualism and endless questions about the nature of art, turned out to be decisive for her artistic creativity and achievement. Today Natalia LL continues to explore these themes, even drawing up her older pieces and reworking them - looking at the process of change in the human form - and other living beings.
In 2007 Natalia Lach-Lachowicz began to produce a series of works called Futrzasta włochatość / Furry Hairiness and Softness of a Touch / Miękkość dotyku, compositions made using replicated fragments of her works of 30 years previous entitled Animal Art. These were self-portraits made of the artist photographed covering her naked body with a fur. However, this time she only exposes fur-covered fragments. Yet it seems that this is the way to reach the core of Animal Art. In both versions we see the animal element dominated by the human's control of the environment and the pose. The animal - reduced to a fury attire - appears as a luxurious toy, a source of pleasure, a safe extraction of nature in an artificial man-made environment. On the other hand, the woman's body covered fur can be viewed as a "bestial" mechanism of nature, equally reduced to the function of a gadget subject to the criteria of luxury and pleasure. The fragments of fur-covered parts are composed in such a way as to produce some geometrical patterns, yet it is only an imitation of true geometry. The end result is a sort of mandala, in which the shape of the hair and its colourful contrasts create rhythmic and dynamic constructions in which the axis of the composition is clearly visible.
Author: Krzysztof Jurecki, Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, March 2004. Translated by Sylwia Wojda, March 2011. Edited by Agnieszka Le Nart in March 2011.
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