A chance meeting of Ann Noël and Grzegorz Pleszyński at the Antipodes (Australia) resulted after some years in an interesting artistic cooperation, with no dominating individual. Wondering how it was possible that mutual inspirations turned into a peculiar symbiosis, and not unilateral sponging off, I came to a conclusion that it was only possible with two conditions fulfilled. First of all, at the time they started their cooperation, they were both mature artists with formed world views. The other important factor is the dissimilarity of life and artistic experiences, thanks to which one could offer the other a part of one’s artistic being, not losing their own identities.
The life stories and artistic paths travelled by the two artists presented in Bydgoszcz are significantly different. Their dates and places of birth prove that they belong to different generations and cultural circles. While Noël grew up in the reality of Western Europe rebuilding itself after World War II, Pleszyński’s childhood fell on the times of coarse Gomułka times of socialist realism. Those experiences had to impress on their psyche.
Also their artistic education and the beginning of artistic activities are different. Born in Plymouth, England, Noël was educated in graphics art and design at the Bath Academy of Art (Corsham). After her graduation in 1968, she was invited to work at Edition Hansjörg Mayer, where artistic books were published by such artists as: Robert Filliou, Richard Hamilton, Dieter Roth, André Thomkins or Emmett Williams. The experiences and contacts acquired during her stay in Stuttgart helped Noël go to New York and work for the Something Else Press, where she met her future husband, Emmett Williams. This way, the young artist joined the circle of artists associated with concrete poetry and the Fluxus movement. In no time, she became one of the distinctive representatives of the movement. Her creative work and experiences in designing and graphics art resulted in her starting a teaching career. In the 1970s she taught at two prestigious schools: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada; and Harvard University in the USA. In 1980, she relocated to Berlin, where’s she’s lived and worked until today.
Artistic education played less significant role in the artistic career of Pleszyński than it was the case with Noël. While studying at the Faculty of the Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, he already had his own vision of art, independent of the local artistic or university circles. Later teaching experiences, acquired over the years of working at grammar schools and the Art High School of Bydgoszcz, had a more significant influence on his outlook on the world and the direction many of his artistic attempts took. It was working with children and young people, supported by the experiences of the trip to Australia and meeting with the Aborigines that shaped his vision of art, its mission and presence in the contemporary, broadly understood culture. Going to Berlin in 2009, then, he was already an artist with many years of artistic achievements and a precise vision of the world. He decided to transplant his experiences to a new ground.
At the exhibition at the Bydgoszcz gallery, we’re luckily presented with the recent works of the artists done together, as well as individual realisations, which make it possible to embrace a wider context of their creative cooperation and rock’n’roll connotations.
Sebastian Dudzik

2011.04.08 – 2011.05.29

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