Alicja Bielawska's book, published by the Roman NERO magazine and publishing house, offers an extensive presentation of her drawings, becoming a kind of manifesto for the artist's unique and eccentric logic of lines, colours, and shapes.
Often engaging objects of everyday use and “ready-made” materials, Bielawska hesitates to distinguish between items found in a gallery space and at home. Instead, she aims to translate the interactions she observes among various objects in space, as well as the relationships between them and people, into the forms of her creations. When drawing, she performs a similar activity, however, without the restraints of material resources – a sheet of paper and a crayon open up an unrestrained playground for describing reality, through the prism of a flexible imagination.
Drawing consists of joining invisible dots, reference points for potential, unlimited, unknown constellations. The two dimensional sheet can be expanded to include a number of other dimensions, whilst lines, running from one point to another, can reach new ones.
– Bielawska writes in Disordered Structures.
In exhibitions, Alicja Bielawska's three-dimensional pieces are usually accompanied by her works on paper. The latter, however, occupy a somewhat marginalized position at presentations of her artistic output. Considering the potential she sees in her two-dimensional works, it is not surprising that she has been yearning to give them some separate space for display – in the form of a book.
Bielawska had already once published a book of drawings – in 2010, she collaborated with the Amsterdam-based graphic designer Sarai de Haan on a publication which coincided with her solo exhibition The Mountains – grow unnoticed at Teto Projects, Amsterdam. Leonie Walstijn wrote in the show's press release:
In her drawings you can see that there is something about the elements and forms, they construct a world. It provides a shelter. This shelter can be hidden behind something, blocked by something or left open. The constructions provide an ‘inside’ but also have an ‘outside’ element; the mountain landscape, which is solid and monumental. It introduces the organic form into the constructed world. Organic and abstract shapes coexist in different configurations.
The artist had continued to work with drawings, but lacked an opportunity to show them together properly. When the possibility to publish them in a book arose thanks to the editors of NERO magazine and publishing house, she decided to treat her collected works on paper as a comprehensive body, as well as a representation of a certain stage in her work. As she says:
We were working on this book for the most part of 2014 – the final stage of that process overlapped with my fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude. During my residency there, I began producing new drawings, which appear to mark a new phase in my work. Hence, this book is a kind of a summary of several years of work and an overview of the themes that have interested me. [Bielawska's statement especially for Culture.pl]
The works in the book span from 2008 to 2014, but they are not shown in chronological order – the logic of the presentation follows instead intuitive, formal associations between individual images. Fifty drawings are accompanied by essays by artist in which she attempts to represent, as faithfully as possible, her way of thinking about the medium. She writes:
The act of drawing recalls thoughts of objects, their shapes and surfaces. But in memory, only their fragments emerge: the curved shape of the table-top, the bulge of the vase, the warped handle of the teacup, the colour of a textile hanging on the door. This fragmentary character invokes the act of touching the objects.
Bielawska's drawings seem to describe reality in a subjective manner, and yet, contain, perhaps paradoxically, shapes and forms that may be recognizable to many, or at least resemble familiar structures and objects. The simple, irregular lines bring out the essence of the material surrounding and our sensual experience of it, along with the glitches and imperfections that our memory can superimpose on them.
Each reprinted drawing in Disordered Structures has a dedicated spread – their original sizes vary from A4 to 70x100cm, however, in the book they are all printed in the same format. Readers are thus allowed an equal amount of blank space for their gaze to wander around, and each drawing – an equal chance to grasp their attention. White glossy pages have been framed by bright purple matte sheets, and bound in a yellow canvas cover. On the front, we find a red-coloured pattern copied from one of Bielawska's drawings embossed on the hard cover. By introducing this contrast of textures and colours, the designers from NERO have made a subtle attempt at extending the artist's explorations in experiencing the space and its fragments beyond paper and back into 3D. Or is this book yet another object Bielawska will describe with her wandering lines?
Author: Ania Micińska, 2.04.2015