Nerium oleander »

Bogumił Książek/ Nerium oleander/ 25 April –23 May 2015

Nerium oleander pleasing to the eye with its purple-pink buds seduces with its beauty. However, the delicate flowers with fine petals and elongated, shiny leaves are poisonous. Beauty and danger. What an appealing and inspiring combination! The purple-pinkish hue of oleander flowers has dominated the work of Bogumił Książek which contains scenes observed from a sunlit southern Italian motorway. Hot air mixed with dust and intense rays of midday sun give no respite to travellers The eyes are dazzled by strong light and they consequently lose focus, the contours become blurred, colours lose their real hue. Everything around becomes purplish-pink. Hot tarmac gives off heat, the air vibrates, and the eye is deceived by apparitions. Are the shapes which are seen real or illusions? Figures suddenly appear before the surprised and tired eyes. They are women ... black women in skimpy clothes and high heels. Strange apparitions from the wilderness, covered with dust, still like majestic statues or predatory lionesses lurking motionless in wait for their victims.


Tempting like the beautiful oleander they are to deceive and seduce travellers weary of the heat, the monotony of the road and of life.

It is a strange place with a disturbing aura. Temptresses with a difficult beauty, poisoned by the venom of prostitution; torn from "bad" Africa and brought to "good" Europe. Characters in the deserted roadside of endless tarmac, running from the "wild" South to the "rich" North, set against daredevils hungry for doubtful experiences, enclosed in the air-conditioned cabins of their cars with the courage to stop and accost the standing women. The rose colour of their skimpy outfits blends with the purple-pink to brown of the surroundings. The colour of the oleander flowers which grow at the roadside combines with the hue of the uniforms reduced to a minimum of the officers of the paid "pleasures".

Snapshots from the motorway roadside captured by Bogumił Książek draw the viewers into an ambiguous reality where what is real is mixed with the dazzling after-image of the sun. The gaze of the viewers, here cast as travellers, deceived by the colour and stunned by the brilliance of sun rays, observes the sometimes transparent figures emerging from the background and is admitted to a disturbing underworld which is better seen from a car window.

Michał Hankus