April 5, 2024

I invite you to the exhibition at the Lokal 30 gallery in Warsaw. (ul. Wilcza 29a/12). Opening: April 5, 2024. The exhibition will last until May 29

In her expressive paintings and ink drawings, Anna Orbaczewska reflects on the female experience of the body and ponders on the often ambivalent and unclear nature of interpersonal relationships. Bodies and gestures that fill Orbaczewska’s works carry with them striking and emotionally charged messages. Unsettling relations and uncomfortable feelings that govern the bodies force them to mutate, transform, and turn into grotesque hybrids. The hands, as if begging for more, enlarge and multiply. The legs grow into the ground as they can no longer run away in fear. Bodily metaphors like “a punch to the gut” come alive in Orbaczewska’s paintings, instantly taking hold of the viewer.

The artist says that before she starts working with the canvas, she sees the painting with her mind and feels it in her body. Only after this experience is complete can she transpose the idea onto the canvas and understand it. Orbaczewska’s profound sensitivity and mature technique allow her to give shape to an impulse via painting and drawing. Her art is not really about therapy, as some would say, as it is about one’s journey towards self-knowledge—about looking for hidden meanings from the outside to see what they can reveal to us about ourselves.

With Strange feelings, Orbaczewska continues her work with bold paintings in red and blue so deeply contrasting that the contrast itself becomes a metaphor. The red symbolizes blood, life, the heat of the fight and the intensity of emotions. The red paint can hide the face and let the legs run away on their own, but isn’t it essentially an attempt at erasing oneself from the overwhelming reality? When a blue hand reaches out of the red background for the runaway’s hair—whose hand is it? The ambiguity of these situations and gestures is evident. A seemingly violent gesture could, in fact, save someone from falling. On the other hand, what
appears to be safe could turn out to be dangerous. The fragments of the body scattered across Orbaczewska’s paintings are endowed with their own strange agency beyond human control. The feet run by themselves. The hands look at the world around them.

In a series of oblique, more delicate self-portraits, the artist successfully searches for the extraordinary in the ordinary. A simple gesture of brushing one’s hair off one’s forehead or hugging oneself can be read as an act of caring, but also as an act of self-aggression manifest in the acts of pulling one’s hair and crushing one’s body.

For the first time, the red paintings are accompanied with the works in blue—inspired by the summer shades of blue, the color of the sky and water—and green. Marshy and toned-down, but also bright and vibrant, the green in its complexity speaks to the human embeddedness in the natural world. Inherently connected to the flora, human beings sprout their own leaves. All things human and non-human remain forever wedded in a love-hate relationship. In the artist’s words, “we are like a post-species fungus.”

Next to Orbaczewska’s oil paintings are her famous ink drawings that capture the ephemerality of feelings, odd fantasies, and hidden desires. In a set of ceramic tiles—displayed here for the first time—reminiscent of painted Dutch tiles, the artist uses the white canvas of the tile to paint scenes in cobalt blue—the scenes by no
means sweet and lovely, but jarring and confrontational.

Text: Anna Sańczuk
Translation: Marcin Markowicz