prof. Ryszard Różanowski Abstraction - primary feeling and primary metaphor of reality
The work of Ursula Śliz situates itself in the current of abstraction, the only one which was not finally closed like other strategies of twentieth-century avant-garde. Despite the crises diagnosed by critics, which was the part of the next generation’s ups and downs, it evolved from early Kandinsky watercolors through geometrical abstraction, expressive, lyrical, allusive and metaphorical, eccentric, analytical until after painting abstraction - often getting, even as a quotation, also into figurative painting. The concept of "abstraction" has a long history, but the discourses of modernity made it an aesthetic category. The many directions of creative research were marked by the aspiration of the autonomy of the world’s forms. The visionary patron was Maurice Denis, who ordered to remember that a picture "before it becomes a battle horse, a nude woman, or any other anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with paint in a certain order." In the form of schools, programs, and trends, abstraction has its distant future, practiced on what has already been painted and adopted, it is considering these and continually exceeding. Clement Greenberg called it an "extraordinary experience" the rejection of a well-rooted notion of abstract art as something precisely sketched and painted smoothly, something with clear outlines and flat situated colors, which is accomplished through abstract expressionism.
In this internally diverse world of abstraction, with its design possibilities and necessities, which also defines what is allowed and what is prohibited, Urszula Śliz enters boldly and decisively consistently testing the range of ready, reproducible, and common abstract effects. Without concealing inspiration with Kazimir Malevich's suprematism, and his intention to “free art from the burden of the object”, the artist is primarily a constructor, as far as shaping forms is concerned. Similarly to Malevich, she succumbs to experiencing the visible. She follows selected fragments and repetitive shapes captured in a unique artistic form. A curve is a shape that imposes itself, but cannot be unambiguously defined. It stimulates imagination and opens up various compositional possibilities, also allowing some space for chance. In this case, regularity of forms has little to do with the geometric doctrine. The exploration of curves enables experimenting with colours and contrasts, ensuring openness and linear clarity of lines, while remaining far from the “calligraphic” nature of abstract paintings. It is a metaphor, as people inscribe their existence in branching paths of curves. Therefore we can talk about a harmony of relations here, an interesting synthesis of the concrete and the abstract, as well as their correlation that reveals a multi-layered nature of the painter’s message. Each layer interferes with a different aspect – their transformations and extraction from realistic situational contexts give rise to new (sometimes surprising) meanings.
This inevitably leads to an aesthetic experience and an analysis of relations between the form and the background. Śliz takes up this challenge, which is evidenced by her black and white paintings corresponding with a series of architectural compositions by Władysław Strzemiński (particularly with the Composition of Space dated 1929). Those works also remove the dualism of components and maintain them in a unified-consistent function. Strzemiński put geometry to visual tests, asking how it might “go hand in hand with intuition”. The artist transposes reality filled with dots, arcs, curves, straight lines, planes and solids into repeatedly transformed shapes and forms. She does it defying opinions of those who would defend the autonomy and integrity of paintings by removing everything that contrasts with their flat surface (in particular the illusion of three-dimensionality). On the other hand, she agrees with those who proclaimed the advent of “time in space” at the end of the last century, attempting to capture contemporary reality with the use of new metaphors such as the nomadic space or rhisomatic space.
Adopting the approach of a participant, and preferring fairly anonymous methods of execution, she builds a new relation between reality and the painting, thus subjectively defining herself, her language and her identity (as if in contrast with the anonymity of execution). In 1990 Gottfried Boehm defined abstraction as the “primal interpretation of reality”, an independent form of cognition that has little in common with the normative principle of mimesis, but one that that sheds light on the extensive change in people’s relation to reality. “The power of image – he wrote – means: il fait voir, it opens our eyes, it shows”. The power hidden in images consists in their ability to open new roads. This power is also noticeable in Urszula Śliz’s paintings. Daily, ordinary, natural, non-reflective experiencing of space and geometry that helps – through idealization and abstraction – describe, objectify and express the experience, and must be preceded by some “primal interpretation”, a private area where those two orders are inseparable. When objects vanish, places remain – objectless shapes and forms. They appear to capture the artist’s attention the most, being only seemingly familiar and acknowledged. Urszula Śliz subjects them to a far-reaching deconstruction, forcing the viewer to recognize them once again, and place them in new, non-traditional, often revealing contexts. Text to the catalog / EL GALLERY / Wrocław 2014 ISBN 978-83-927219-6-7