Alicja Habisiak-Matczak   »

The way Alicja Habisiak-Matczak depicts her world has something in common with the film practice. Like a cameraman, the artist sets her objective at the objects standing in silence, creating their vast panorama, most frequently, however, zooming in or out on the center of the composition, making the impression of running space.

Running our eye - faster and faster - over the walls and arcades we start losing control and become overwhelmed by the unbridled whirl of light matter above us. In some works from the very beginning the landscape is immersed in the beams of light. Like in Turner's paintings the contours of objects are blurred, it is difficult to interpret the reality, the matter becomes atomized.

In many Alicja Habisiak-Matczak's graphic works the fragments of real, defined reality are reflected, yet even then they are a sign of a universal space, functioning beyond our time and us. They exist in the area of eternal solstice, where on the border of dusk and dawn - night and day struggle against each other.

The world of contrasts permeates the matter of the image. Opposites are revealed at different levels, they are present in the intellectual layer - when memory of the past is accompanied by the contemporary context, in the image layer - in juxtaposition of varied architectural forms, as well as in the layer of means of expression - in the character of lines fighting for their dominance, in a variety of values set together, in the sparking existence of darkness and light.

Graphics and drawings are deprived of the image of man. Thus architectural objects, fragments of landscape become the independent heroes of the story. They prevent the access to them by means of towering masses of walls, wooden scaffolds protruding, directed at the sky, they stare at us with black eyeholes of windows, confuse us by the light pouring out of gates, fogs filling the air. It is only arches of arcades and bends of space which soften the construction of landscapes. In this way - perhaps against the artist's will - anthropomorphized elements of the image such as props are endowed with the value of dramatic tension. Signs of life are sometimes additionally suggested by titles of works, especially those constructed for the visions originating from the text and spirit of poetry. The artist presents a suggestive vision of architecture, creates the synthetic - deprived of unnecessary details - views of former and contemporary buildings, magnifying them in attractive perspective shots and dramatizing them by the use of strong light-and-shade contrasts.

Not only does she attempt to reflect the character of the place - its appearance and structure, but also to divulge the touch of time preserved in it, its trace present in the fully dignified permanence. Thus it is not the illustration which is the artistic goal to achieve - it is rather the search for mood, the essence of the phenomenon.

The artist tries to reveal the secret hidden in the fragment of the observed landscape, to discover something unusual, original, personal in the often commonplace, apparently familiar fragments of reality. Architecture, even when it is not constructed yet based on reality, is always in a way unreal - both by the particular choice of lenses, enormous, arranged in space (reminding of the images of Colosseum, aqueducts or medieval fortifications), and by the specific use of strong contrastive light, and by the lack of people who are present only as originators. In this context the artist is obviously keen on empty spaces present in the ŁódĽ architecture, like in Manufaktura, with its high walls of the abandoned post - industrial buildings. The artist's original approach makes that almost contemporary scenery look in a way antique. The world created seems to be of ambiguous origin, where the contemporary character is mingled with the ancient feature present in the background of considerations.

The monumental character of the landscape is finally revealed by the choice of perspective; the observer looks from the upper position, the depth increases and at the same time the impression of emptiness and strangeness is preserved. In other cases, when architecture is framed from the lower position, the cubistic masses of the matter seem to be giant and austere.

The clearly defined focal point of the composition, marked by convergence of lines on the plane (or their divergence when in a case of diagonal perspective the lines go beyond the frame), most frequently takes the form of energetic circulation. Now and then there are two focal points of the composition; then one whirl concentrates on the image, and another one locates its centre beyond the plane. The movement influences the fragment of the landscape, it seems as if the whirls of lights and shades caused the expansion and withdrawal of the walls of architecture in space.

Due to such decisions, there is undoubtedly the air of metaphysics in Alicja Habisiak- - Matczak's works. Although the fragments of - mostly original - landscape are deserted, we expect that - like with Chirico - a solitary figure is about to fill the shaded space of the arcade with its silhouette, cuts across the light of the empty street, appears on the castle walls.

The atmosphere created by the artist is nearly fantastical, like in the thrilling movies conjuring the image of a glorious though falling empire (Satiricon by Fellini, Titus [Andronicus] by Julie Taymor) or like in the graphic architectural fantasies by Piranesi (Carceri). In Alicja Habisiak--Matczak's graphic works the main goal, however, is not the attempt to preserve the vision of power which transfers from the climax into the state of fall, but to record a certain phenomenon and at the same time the essence of urban character - immortalized both in the walls and towers of a Renaissance city and expressed by scaffolds, the rhythm of roofs of a contemporary urban organism.

Perhaps that is why to contest it there should be the evening or morning time - without any people - when the city is peace and quiet. At the beginning the attempts to preserve the essence of the phenomenon appear to be like drawings. They are numerous, in various formats and on a variety of paper. Some drafts are transferred into the language of graphics, others exist only at the level of drawing, they are autonomous. If at the stage of the impression record you used a camera objective, you would have to take the whole series of photographs so that the image could be multilateral, full, providing later the opportunity to recall the atmosphere of that encounter with space and architecture. The drawing made on the spot presents all the feelings and the looks of a given moment. The construction is in the making - assisted by an apprentice - time, tension between the real fragment of the world and its drawing reflection. It is possible to achieve the physical and psychic compatibility of both phenomena.

The drawing predilection can be observed in many graphic works made by Alicja Habisiak-Matczak. The works look as if they were drawn in charcoal and white chalk. In some of them the traces of an explicit gesture form trajectories of lines shaping the architecture and the air. Others, in turn, strike with the rough uneven texture - the space is filled with black. Whereas the buildings drawn in a dry point technique cut into the light space, manifesting their presence by means of hatching.

In the woodcuts the objects are sketched by thick smooth cuts with the clearly stressed beginning and end, created - to a large extent - by white rather than black. They are more synthetic, simplified. Here we can also find the explicitly defined vanishing point, clearly defined depths.

The artist uses a wide range of means of expression; different ways of using the graphic technique are adequate to the issue under discussion and the assumed atmosphere.

Delight, thoughtfulness and anxiety observed in the works express the artist's particular emotionality. That is where the presence of man is revealed, the man who individually experiences space, and the experience is expressed in personal notes - images: graphics, drawings.

Alicja Habisiak-Matczak undoubtedly takes up purely visual issues - the aspect of space, light, movement; however, she also touches the existential questions; she says about the man's attitude to tradition whose part is the past created and preserved in stone. About the respect to the world which is manifested in silence and persistence, and, in graphics and drawing, finds its reflection woven of white and black, of essence and lack of it, of the energizing relation of opposites.

Dariusz Le¶nikowski

Transl. Elżbieta Rodzeń-Le¶nikowska

An artist covers thousands of kilometers to come to one of the most beautiful Renaissance cities, for 5 months she draws mainly what she can observe on the limited area of 145 m2. It is not laziness, however, which is the reason for this. It is the eye which can not get used to what it sees; there are so many suggestions created by every nook and cranny of our city

   Giuliano Santini
Dyrektor Międzynarodowego Centrum Grafiki Artystycznej w Urbino

tłum. z włoskiego Tomasz Stańczyk