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Bartosz Nalepa »

Willow/ 21 May-30 June 2016

The latest collection of his work has a kind of physicality. The landscape is a metaphorical depiction of the body deprived of the protective layer of the skin. A body plucked by extreme emotions, and in the process of creation, these emotions add up the artist’s dramatic gestures. This surge is usually concealed with a curtain: stains of paint and sometimes seemingly empty plane which, paradoxically, unearths the significance of this swirl of consecutive layers. The layer of paint forming a kind of curtain, reveals what is disturbingly vivid in the matter of the painting. In Bartek’s art this concreteness of the painting matter is often immersed in undefined and volatile matter of layers gradually hiding the first one whose traces are impastos. Traces of tools, signs of a struggle. It is not painting of gestures but eruption of spontaneous gestures which are driven by emotions careless of aesthetic value. What matters is the testimony. In fact, they are self-portraits of a man coming face to face with the drama of what swirls not only in the head of the artist, but in his bowels. Somatic painting? 

 

 

A few months ago, at a Gallery in the Krakow district of Podgórze, near Galeria Olympia, a special opening took place, the first exhibition of works by Bartek Nalepa, after a long break. That Gallery in Podgórze, at ulica Józefińska 21, was my studio for many years, where also works were made in cooperation with Bartek as the Visitor or the Sitting One in which he was the model for the casts. But apart from being an atelier ulica Józefińska 21 was also a venue for meetings, events, microopenings, it was even a flat for some time. Intense time for both of us. Bartek’s exhibition at this place became a kind of return to the sources, which favoured reflection on what has happened over the years and where we are now. Why am I mentioning it? Because places and people connected with them define us in some ineffable way. If anything in us is decisive about the here and now, it is this feeling of then and there. Over time places, people, the memory of past events, ups and downs, dreams build a sense of perspective in us. Sometimes it is bitterness and sadness of failure. But the one who manages to retain the inner child, although without the naivety associated with age but with a passion of creating, has a chance of being redeemed. Even if this redemption is to last as long as it takes to cover with paint the white surface of a loom. This is the case of Bartek Nalepa. The latest collection of his work has a kind of physicality. The landscape is a metaphorical depiction of the body deprived of the protective layer of the skin. A body plucked by extreme emotions, and in the process of creation, these emotions add up the artist’s dramatic gestures.This surge is usually concealed with a curtain: stains of paint and sometimes seemingly empty plane which, paradoxically, unearths the significance of this swirl of consecutive layers. The layer of paint forming a kind of curtain, reveals what is disturbingly vivid in the matter of the painting. In Bartek’s art this concreteness of the painting matter is often immersed in undefined and volatile matter of layers gradually hiding the first one whose traces are impastos. Traces of tools, signs of a struggle. It is not painting of gestures but eruption of spontaneous gestures which are driven by emotions careless of aesthetic value. What matters is the testimony. In fact, they are self-portraits of a man coming face to face with the drama of what swirls not only in the head of the artist, but in his bowels. Somatic painting? I have a feeling bordering on certainty, that these paintings are an attempt to embody the time  underpinned by violent emotions relating to the past and the present. Fascination with the Far East is also a point of reference in Bartek’s art which in fact, as you know, I share. But this is a topic for a separate text. One thing is certain: the works of Bartek Nalepa implement the desideratum of Józef Czapski, cited recently in connection with the opening in Krakow of the pavilion bearing his name and housing a permanent exhibition, which I had the honour to design: “Realism or antirealism do not matter  What matters is the truth.”

Aleksander Janicki