In 2010 I met W.L. while he was working on his first lightscapes in Tuscany.
W.L. gathered diverse soil samples, which he selected according to their physical and visual properties.
W.L. was essentially collecting landscapes in jars, natural samplings from the local environments and from life, celebrating an inverted creative process, a non-destructive act, one that isolated the strata comprising the land, and then recomposed them in a mix of natural and artificial elements.
The separation of these elements generated a fine, ductile material, a living powder that W.L. collected into containers organized according to their geographical origins.
A sampling of ashen grey land collected on a rainy day, along a ridge mid-way down the south ravine of one of the Crete Senese, became, in the mind of W.L., an intellectual link to the acts of painters from the distant past, who extracted from the earth the fundamental colors and materials of their artistic medium.
The work of W.L. constitutes an archeology of the present, deriving from origins new directions.
The reduction of the landscape to its constituent elements, obtained by extended phases breaking it down to powder, produces a collection of possible worlds, ready to combine and to recompose.
It is through harnessing the spirit of this refined dust that W.L. constructs his artistic vision.
By recombining the essence of the land on canvas or other substrates, W.L.’s work envisions alternative landscapes.
The light reflected from the grains of earth connect the composition to its origins, to that late afternoon in May, to the glimmering moment after the rain.
Translation from Italian to English Alick M McLean
ting is an
The Absence of Earth
Textures of the other being
Everyone probably saw a dry piece of land which was covered by water before. First rain or river and then wind and the sun made a structure which, if you come closer and closer to it, becomes more and more abstract. That’s how Nature creates shapes on earth. A soil behaves in a certain way because of the atmospheric and tectonic circumstances. Surfaces of Wojciech Lawnicki’s paintings slightly resemble these biotic patterns, but we are not able to find his textures anywhere in Nature. We find them only in the Nature of painting.
Lawnicki uses the soil to build a work of art which has its own law; each of his paintings is an entity located beside the maternal environment. Now the painter is a river or rain and builds the artificial organisms – artificial in relation to structures which we can see when we walk through the Nature (for instance: through the Tuscan landscape) and, at the same time, absolutely natural in relation to his process of painting.
The artist elides (abstracts) the organic material. He takes soil to get rid of soil. He needs earth because he doesn’t need earth. And, finally, because of the self-contradictory process, these paintings have nothing in common with Tuscany at all. Painting forgets the land. What we knew about earth is not important anymore. What matters is what we don’t know. The Unknown.
Waiting for colour
Wojciech Lawnicki doesn’t buy ready-made paints. He makes his own. He has learned how to convert a piece of ground into a colour-paste. Preparation takes time… or, maybe, it is already a part of a non-time experience? A painting before painting?
When the artist prepares paints for himself, he doesn’t prepare paints only, he creates. This personal “production” is a bit alchemical, and the final result is not just a substance that will leave traces on canvas; it’s also a first, intentional surface compressed in the form of container.
Lawnicki chose the soil of Tuscany and started to transform it into new autonomous beings – paintings. And, actually, not the history, not ashes of Renaissance, not any form of life that happened inside the earth (or on the earth), but the colour drags him to this territory. Now, after a few years of exploration, he knows where to find shades of blue, red, green, yellow, grey or white soil. This knowledge, this map of colours that he has, starts (along the intention and the desire that drives painters) the process of painting. The painter’s peregrination is not about searching, collecting and admiring the colour (of soil) but about spotting the potential (hidden) colour which, in the end, will be completely disconnected from the origin, from earth, also from earth with capital E, Earth. The colour measured by some cosmic immensity.
When we look at Lawnicki’s paintings we see colours which were unseen before. We use names we know; we find the nearest descriptions to catch them (colours) but, in fact, we are just trying to define something undefinable. Any linguistic, logical and phenomenological explanations are useless. The painting is an escape from our understanding of colours.
Do we look at the colours of soil, clay? No, these are not colours of something; and they don’t represent anything. They are rather the colours of colours and ultimately erase the “genealogy” of soil. Earth is dissolved. We are pushed into the abstract zone where Tuscan landscapes are nothing but memories.
Lawnicki is one of those painters who believe that painting is, or maybe it is better to say: should be based on the desire to connect to another dimension. We don’t need to name this dimension as unreal, surreal, subconscious, mystical, spiritual or divine, etc. But, of course, we can. Subconscious Tuscany? – it actually sounds quite good.