Magda Moskwa is a painter and creator of objects and unique clothes. She is a renowned art rebel, manifestly challenging both the period of her existence and the context of contemporary art alike.
She studied at the Faculty of Textiles and Clothing at the State Collage of Art in Łódź, where she completed her master's degree in 1996. In 2015 she received the Gwarancje Kultury (Guarantee of Culture) award in the category of Visual Arts bestowed by TVP Kultura. Born in 1967, she lives and works in Łódź.
While Moskwa’s art is frequently associated with turpism, the artist claims to be preoccupied with beauty. Her works are dominated by women and the human body shown in smaller or larger fragments. The main theme of Moskwa’s paintings and spatial objects is human flesh and spirituality, a life of toil, rites of passage and death.
She is known for her portraits of women branded with the stigmata of misery and trauma. Far from ‘classical’ beauty and idealisation, her portraits of women depict anatomical imperfections as Moskwa is interested in less obvious, intricate beauty. Naturalistic and anti-aesthetic in their way of portraying the ugliness and ageing of human tissue, her paintings have a strong existential and spiritual resonance.
In my works corporality is very important but not in isolation from the spirit. I'm interested in the body as a 'container for the spirit', as a form of reliquary. Even in my early works I did not focus on corporality as a similarity or externality, for me it was rather a form of embodiment of the psychic dimension and emotional states. My early portraits were never portraits of actual people. These are combined images of different people, often with some traces of my appearance, from which emerged completely new figures. I would describe them as 'the embodiments of inner life’.
The common theme of her diverse paintings is the depiction of life as a process of martyrdom, accompanied by metaphysical anxiety, physical and mental pain, and a constant state of tension. The veristic accuracy of presentation of details – pieces of clothing, skin strikingly reminiscent of the human body, or floral ornaments, is not only a proof of the artist’s great manual skill, but also reveals her attempts to penetrate the complex reality of the world "from the general to the particular". Her passion for enriching her compositions with plant designs has its roots in her education – while still a student she designed prints on fabric.
Around 2005, her painting changes considerably. Portraits receded into the background, and more abstract fragments of the body which become the main theme of her works. The technique of oil on canvas is replaced by a unique and creatively worked-out method of painting. The time-consuming painter’s craft, for which the starting point is a mixing board and chalk temper, is now enhanced by resins, aluminium slag, and mixtion. The employment of this new technique led the artist to create sculptural, sensual works that ultimately became full-bodied objects resembling human body parts.
Maria Morzuch – the curator of the biggest and also the most important Moskwa’s exhibition held at the Museum of Art in Łódź in 2015 – described the disintegrated parts of the human body as independent characters of painter’s works:
Autonomous parts of the body – separated, weightless in their lack of a figure, solitary and in the lead – become the only theme: who needs the entire figure? This is the question asked by the artist herself when she paints parts of the body and close-ups of the skin, claiming that such a format allows observers to better identify with the piece than any portrait could.
The repertoire of forms and motifs painted by Moskwa has a strong reference to Christian iconography and religious bigotry. Fragments of the human body evoke the relics of saints locked in special cans and containers. In Moskwa’s works a tortured, dead body of martyrs becomes the object of spiritual and visual contemplation.
Unclosed forms, cracks, canals remain a trope in Moskwa’s art – a trope soon to become an independent, leading theme of her painting. A fundamental change in technique transpires: oil on canvas to chalk temper on sculpted board, pliable to the touch and caress of the strenuous process of hardening the base, of forming and shaping. Pliability and versatility have proved conducive to Moskwa’s analysis of her paintings, her braking through to the other side, and crating art as if dabbling in organic tissue.
Moskwa’s works from the second decade of the 21st century are far from the traditional understanding of the painting; they resemble objects and sculptures. Most of the work is signed Untitled and almost all individual exhibitions of the artist are mysteriously titled Nomana.
An important part of Moskwa’s body of work is clothes deprived of the utility function. They correspond with corporal paintings indicating a strong relationship of ‘body-clothing’. The ‘mental costumes’, which most often lack the anatomical logic of clothing, constrain human movements, and often become an armor, a ‘prison’ for the body. The external and inner form of clothing becomes blurred. Seams, fabric and cut of clothing are strict, turned inside out and ostentatiously exposed to public view.
Michał Jachuła, December 2015, transl. GS
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
- 2015 – Nomana, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2014 – Nomana XIV, Wizytująca Gallerr,Warsaw
- 2013 – Nomana XIII, Odnowa Gallery, ASP, Łódź
- 2013 – Nomana XII, Opus Gallery, Łódź
- 2013 – Cielesność Obrazu/Corporality of Painting, Wozownia Art Gallery, Toruń
- 2011 – Nomana XI, Nowy Wiek Gallery, Zielona Góra
- 2011 – Nomana X, Amfilada Gallery, Olsztyn
- 2008 – Nomana IX, Opus Gallery, Łódź
- 2008 – Nomana VIII, Piekary Gallery, Poznań
- 2008 – Magda Moskwa (with Kiraly Gabor), Platan Galley, Budapest
- 2007 – Nomana VII, Wizytująca Gallery, Warsaw
- 2007 – Nomana V, New Media Gallery, Gorzów Wielkopolski
- 2006 – Nomana III, Art Scene Gallery KUL, Lublin
- 2004 – Nomana I, Opus Gallery, Łódź
Selected Group Exhibitions:
- 2015 – State of Life, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
- 2015 – (Nie) dotykaj! Haptyczne aspekty sztuki polskiej po 1945 roku/(Don't) Touch! Haptic Aspects of Polish Art after 1945, CCA Znaki Czasu, Toruń
- 2014 – Corpus, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw
- 2014 – Co widać. Polska Sztuka dzisiaj/As You Can See. Polish Art Today. Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
- 2013 – Biografie rzeczy/Biographies of Things, Polin, Warsaw
- 2013 – Na zachętę do Muzeum,/Encouragement to a Museum, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2012 – Korespondencje. Sztuka nowoczesna i uniwersalizm/Correspondences. Modern Art and Univesalism, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2011 – Piękna pogoda/Good Weather, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw
- 2010 – Sukienka/A Dress, Elektrownia CCA, Radom
- 2010 – Sukienka/A Dress, Zamek Center of Culture, Poznań
- 2009 – Catholic Factor in Polish and German Art, Kościół Minorytów, Regensburg
- 2008 – Poza zasadą rzeczywistości/Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2008 – Depresja/Depression,Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków
- 2007 – Siła formalizmu/The Power of Formalism, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2007 – Depresja/Depression, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok
- 2006 – Stan wewnętrzny?Inner State, Zamek Centre of Culture, Poznań
- 2006 – Correspondances, Hall des Chars, Strasbourg
- 2004 – Piękno, czyli efekty malarskie/ Beauty or Effects of Painting, BWA, Wrocław
- 2004 – Piękno, czyli efekty malarskie/Beauty or Effects of Painting, BWA, Bielsko-Biała
- 2004 – W czterech ścianach/ Inside Four Walls, Biennale of Art of Łódź, Łódź
- 2004 – Made in Strasbourg, Strasbourg
- 2001 – Kobieta o kobiecie/ Woman about a Woman,BWA, Bielsko-Biała
- 2000 – Najgroźniejsze pędzle/ Most Dangerous Brushes, Królikarnia, Warsaw
Magda Moskwa's works are part of collections of Museum of Art in Łódź, Opus Gallery and City Gallery in Łódź