Irmina Staś is a painter, born in 1986 in Żelechów. She studied at the Faculty of Graphics and Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź and at the Painting Faculty of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.
Between 2006 and 2008, she studied at the Faculty of Graphics and Painting of the Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, while in 2008-2012, at the Painting Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, from which she graduated with distinction, having studied in the workshop of Prof. Leon Tarasewicz and Paweł Susid, PhD. She prepared her annex in Professor Mirosław Duchowski's workshop of Art in Public Space.
Irmina Staś's artistic practice exemplifies art maturing under the impact of the artist's personal experiences, which becomes a field of deep reflection and search for an original language of expression. Leon Tarasewicz, who was Staś's diploma supervisor, wrote:
It is the first time in a long, long while that I met such a young artist whose life and artistic work form such a coherent whole. Her individualism probably solidified due to a long period of isolation in hospitals. Her methodical approach to work, her analysis of the present day and the slow shift of her art towards the other side of visibility and invisibility, to the interior human world and sensations, all fuelled the development of her private painting space.
In 2010, the artist started creating paintings (oil on canvas and watercolour on paper), which she has been consequently titling Organisms, adding consecutive numbers to respective works, as if they were specimens from a biology lab. She interprets the language of lyrical abstraction by filling large canvases with colourful compositions, which make an ambiguous and subtle reference to bodily structures, internal organs, or metabolic processes. The artist's comments on the liminal experiences associated with her illness, hint at the genesis of her paintings:
I paint situations on the borders. These situations are moments in which humans experience uncertainty and instability of their being in the world. 'In border situations humans decide on the meaning of their own existence.' Jaspers claims that only particularly dramatic experience can lead to full realisation of a human, in other words it is only in a boundary situation that a human really exists. […] My boundary situations are related to the experience of illness. Consent to subsequent surgical operations while being aware of the risk of failure were the most difficult choices in my life. Body scars are merely subtle marks compared with the memory of fear, when you are on the boundary.
The early works from the series still bore strong references to the physical nature of the body and an interference in it that causes pain and suffering. As the artist claims:
Initially, my paintings were very literal. By analytically representing specific fragments of disintegrating nature, I approached the surface of canvas as if it was an operation table.
Irmina Staś's later Organisms represent mysterious, biomorphic beings, arranged into sophisticated painted compositions which seem to be following the pulse of the internal dynamics of organic processes. Irmina Staś's painting realm, marked by her personal experience, tends towards universal issues and values, which are predominantly concerned with the impermanence and fragility of biological existence. Her more recent works, painted on white or black backgrounds, feature more abstract signs, connoting the world of natural phenomena, or even colourful ornaments. These forms coexist harmoniously, sometimes taking over the entire surface of canvas, while at other times they make subtle appearances, building the narrative in the centre of the composition. Staś has thoroughly mastered the art of painting: she uses the palette of diluted browns, greys, pinks, purples, and silverish whites with ease, maintaining a formal balance between the element of chance and controlled action.
Her Organisms (2015) series is subtitled as Transition of Matter. The artist searches in it for painterly means of expression which can depict a process that could also be interpreted in the context of alchemy, as transmutation, i.e. the transformation of base metals into noble ones.
Selected awards and honourable mentions
- Recipient of the grant from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2015); finalist of the Strabag Artaward International at Strabag Kunstforum, Vienna (Austria, 2013); winner of the Art Award of the University of Arts in Poznań in the competition New Image / New Look (2013); finalist of the 11th Geppert Competition Attention! Painting!, Wrocław (2013) and of the 41st Bielska Jesień Painting Biennial 2013, BWA Bielska Gallery, Bielsko-Biała; recipient of the Jury's Honourable Distinction in the 22nd Polish Young Painters Review Promotions 2012 in Legnica.
Selected solo and group exhibitions
- Orgamizmen Irmina Staś, Strabag Kunstforum – Artlounge im STRABAG Haus in Vienna (Austria, 2014) and at Wizytująca Gallery in Warsaw (Poland, 2013).
- Participating artist of group exhibitions, including, in 2015: The Power of Abstraction, Museum of Modern Art Minsk (Belarus) and Records of Changes, our selection from the collection of Krzysztof Musiał, Płock Art Gallery, Płock (Poland); in 2014: Mauerfall – 25 Jahre. Fördergesellschaft zeitgenössischer Kunst mbH, Essen (Germany), Wątpia at Monopol Gallery in Warsaw and Open Air with Miłosz, PKO Bank Polski – Head Office, Warsaw.
Ewa Gorządek, February 2016, transl. AM, March 2016