Izabela Staniewska   »

Izabela Staniewska’s works are the result of contesting an urban landscape, views of the industrial city under observation, such as elements of traction networks or cramped building facades bending towards one another. The artist’s reflection is based on many layers as the city is not only a set of more or less known objects: buildings, streets, elements of nature but also a defined composition of various elements, a space structure deliberately or unintentionally shaped by Man The urban space is specific.

Cramped by nature, divided and limited, it forces its way into freedom by enclaves of open atmosphere. In this landscape we tread our own individual paths. We repeatedly pass by traces of the city presence which gradually become common and insignificant. Among those which the everyday routine leaves unnoticed and forgotten there are those which seem to us the essential landmarks, close and significant objects, nearly fetishes whose presence determines our identity. Being in a certain way rhythmically ordered, they also influence the rhythm of our activities, they shape our mood, evoke emotions. Step by step they become the symbols of our space – annexed in our consciousness – they gain the value of subjective ‘city quotations’, being also its external attributes and determinants for others.

At a given moment, in a metaphysical sense, these elements are the centre of the world (owing to the graphic print preserved almost for ever), the focus point of all the routes: at this point they converge and ramify – this is the point where all expectations and hopes focus, where secret energy gathers.

Here Iza Staniewska’s reflections touch the topos of the road. They are evoked by frames deprived of people with extended perspectives, lines of wires running into the remote space. These particular places are sorted out not only from the varied architectural context but also from the social context. Their distinct character is emphasised by the relief effect suggesting a unique ‘tearing out’ and‘ putting on’ a given element onto a wider background constructed by the artist. Observation of the elements of urban landscape, their structure and dynamics is the basis and the pretext for considering the forms and their composition, contrasts of size, colour and texture, the ways they are exposed to light, which makes them become a unique quality.

The selected iconographic motif is not only the main component of the picture but also the clearly defined centre of composition. The artist collects compositional keys drawing our attention to them. The images which are distinguished almost glitter with their colour and light within the minor and severe surrounding of dark, nearly monochromatic surfaces.

The lines of traction network, like threads of a cobweb, focus around the centre; running in different directions and crossing one another – they mark dynamic directions of tension of a composition. Thus the centre and its features: colour, light, lines of tension – organises the plastic work at different levels.

It has a new space created which is expressed on the surface by means of vast patches of black, brown and grey. It is varied in shades of colour and texture. Shiny surfaces are juxtaposed with matt ones, smooth surfaces are accompanied by rough patches. In reality textures of facades with plaster coming off, broken pavement flagstones, uneven surfaces of streets struggle against smooth surfaces of representative squares. The landscape is full of variety and contrasts.

Iza Staniewska’s works are very pictorial. They consist of both synthetic homogenous surfaces and distinct traces of ‘thick brush strokes’ originating from gesture painting as well as from autonomic delicate compositions of gouache. The obtained results are the effect of work within various graphic techniques – relief and intaglio prints. It can be observed that the artist is inspired and challenged by discovering the secrets of particular ways of graphic work and the wide range of opportunities offered by combining different methods.

The fragments of urban space, selected and subjectively featured by the artist, are simultaneously a sign of the whole substance of the city with its structure and atmosphere. The compositions have a special mood – it is in a sense ambiguous. On the one hand, the manifested motives and the palette selected to depict them refer to the image of a crippled city, neglected and sad. On the other hand, maintained by the large format of works, they create the atmosphere of dignity, respect and its exceptional character.

Dariusz Le¶nikowski

Transl. Elżbieta Rodzeń-Le¶nikowska