At the first individual exhibition of Julia Curyło in the Wozownia gallery in Toruń, July 2011, she was preoccupied with the complicated relationships and permeations of the sacred and the profane. Through her large, meticulously polished canvas she was analysing the twenty-first century man’s relationship to faith, mysticism and religion. In particular, she was fascinated by the problem of commercialisation of faith, the question of the existence of popular culture in religion and the related aesthetics of kitsch and fairground shows. As she says:
„One could even say that religion has been „mass popularised” and subject to commercialization – like the world around us.”
The paintings depict garish figures of the saints among the inflatable dolphin, lambs, soap bubbles. At this stage of her art, Curyło’s inspirations with surrealism and neo-pop are clearly visible. The formal solutions used by her the refer, on one hand, to the work of Jeff Koons, on the other – seem to be related to Robert Rumas’s artistic activities. The artist was interested in the patterns of shaping the moral order and ethical principles through the aesthetics of worship. Figures of saints are a response to the search for God, his material equivalent. This is why we can say that, contrary to appearances resulting from a completely different aesthetics of the new series of paintings by the artist, she is still interested in the same thing – finding the God’s particle in the human world.
The new series of works is dedicated to the LHC – Large Hadron Collider. The paintings were created for several months after Curyło visited Geneva, where probably the greatest experiment in the history of the world is located. In the CERN laboratory, the scientists built the biggest machine on Earth, LHC (Large Hadron Collider), an accelerator, that is a machine that accelerates particles of matter. Since 2008, the LHC has been colliding two counter-rotating beams of protons. Last year the scientists have discovered the so-called Higg’s boson, marked H 0. This hypothetical elementary particle is supposed to have existed for about ten milliseconds after the Big Bang, and given rise to all matter. For this reason, it is called by some the God particle. It is through it that other elementary components of matter would probably get their mass. The scientists at CERN believe that Higgs particles have a key role in the universe. Their discovery could give an answer to the ever asked yourself the question of humanity: how the world was created?
The designers of the collider and the supporters of the are seeking rational explanation for the riddle of the existence of matter. They do not find satisfaction in the explanations based on faith, which often postulate the existence of a superior being, the creator and the demiurge, the maker of the universe (creationism is part of as many as three of the five major world monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam). The conflict on the theory of creation brings many other issues – including questions as to how our perception of the world is going to change if scientists can prove the existence of a hypothetical particle H 0?
When it comes to formal matters, one can see a change in aesthetics in relation to previous works. The fairground atmosphere, straight out of Sunday’s indulgences in the country, disappears completely. Some pictures are very detailed presentations with deeply symbolic and metaphorical meaning. These are the visions always dominated by the large hadron collider, a machine, a creation of human hands and human intellect. In six paintings the collider itself is shown with great realism and literalism. Its form – circle – is yet another layer of meaning, which can be found in the works. The shape of the machine is reminiscent of a mandala – it is composed of abstract elements forming a regular and complete whole. Mandala, or a „wheel”, „circle” in Sanskrit, appears very often in the traditional art of Hinduism and Buddhism, where it has got a strong spiritual and ritual significance. It is believed that making the mandala has got calming and healing properties. To this day, Tibetan monks make it from sand during meditation. However, the mandala can also be found in Christianity – in the form of rosette, Celtic cross, halo, oculus or a crown of thorns. This theme appears in the illuminated books by Hildegard of Bingen, a visionary and mystic who lived in the twelfth century, and in gnostic practices, including Rosicrucians. Its complex symbolism is often read as an ideal organizational structure of life – a cosmic diagram reminding us of our relationship with the infinity and of the world which is both in our bodies and minds as well as outside them. According to Carl Jung, the mandala is the centre of everything – it expresses the essence, finiteness and finality. The structure of a circle, which is the structure of the LHC, is then essentially perfect and forms a perfect whole – just as God in monotheistic religions. A series of images by Curyło thus raises the issue of the modern God – for some it is science, for others – religion. The artist combined the theory of creation and end of the world derived from religion with scientific research, depicting a hard to verbalise issue of modern times – the struggle of rationalism and the desire to know the truth with fidelity to tradition and faith.
The remaining dozen canvases are reminiscent of biological abstraction. In fact, they are, however, a true picture of the physical phenomena – they show collisions of protons, presented with an aesthetic sophistication, captivating with beauty.
Through the LHC series, Curyło demonstrates a deeply humanistic approach to scientific issues. In them, she notices not only scientific rationalism but above all, the curiosity and desire to explain the phenomena that have always accompanied the humanity. At the same time, she remains faithful to symbolic realism, believing in the power and immense sensuality of painting.
opening of the exhibition: 04.05.2013, 4pm