“Somnium 2” may be associated with the names of space missions (such as Apollo 11 or Artemis 1), sent to explore selected areas of the Universe. This association – which is quite justified – does not, however, rule out the fact that the exhibition title is a conglomeration of different meanings and contexts.
The presentation of works by Katarzyna Tretyn at Municipal Gallery bwa in Bydgoszcz is the second instalment of the “Somnium” project which premiered in 2022 at Toruń’s Wozownia. Its key word is, not coincidentally, the Latin term for dream or dreaming. On the one hand, it defines the atmosphere of the exhibition, which is an oneiric journey through those areas of imagination that allow us to “disconnect” from (E/e)arth, if only for a moment. On the other hand, it is a conscious reference by the artist to the motif of a dreamlike vision, which has been present in literary and artistic culture for centuries. This formula was a popular way of presenting astronomical concepts, as it allowed them to be presented more clearly and pictorially to the audience. In particular, the “Dream of Scipio” by Cicero, which reflected the assumptions of geocentric theory, or the Dream, or a posthumously published work on lunar astronomy” by Johannes Kepler – one of those astronomers who contributed to the modern scientific revolution – were especially inspiring in this context. Examples of cultural texts presenting scientific theses by means of a description of a cosmic voyage taking place outside of waking life could be multiplied.
The two areas, scientific and phantasmagoric, should therefore not be seen in terms of oppositions with no points in common. Balancing on the edge of scientific reality and art is a hallmark of Katarzyna Tretyn’s work. Although she is not a professional astronomer, her numerous visits to the observatory in Piwnice near Toruń and her many years of cooperation with its staff have allowed her to explore many aspects of the observations carried out there and brought her closer to the world of research. The artist’s works are influenced by the analyses of astronomers, but are not an illustration of them, but a creative interpretation. The transfer to the field of art allows the scientists’ discoveries to resonate in a non-empirical dimension, as phenomena that are also read in a humanistic context. Humans have always been fascinated by everything above the horizon: objects of analysis and attempts at rational explanation, but also objects with the status of metaphor, inviting us to ask ourselves: where we come from, who we are, where we are going…
The “Somnium 2” exhibition coincides with the 2023 celebrations of the Year of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). The great astronomer who “stopped the Sun, moved the Earth” can therefore be considered its spiritual patron.
Katarzyna Tretyn – visual and intermedia artist, university teacher. From 2002 to 2007, she studied easel painting at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. In 2012, she defended her doctorate at her alma mater. In 2020, she was awarded a doctorate in fine arts in the discipline of fine arts and art conservation. Since 2017, she has been working at the Jan and Jędrzej Śniadeccy University of Technology in Bydgoszcz (formerly University of Technology and Life Sciences) as a professor (from 2020), where she teaches painting and drawing. Her search for an individual creative path oscillates around workshop experimentation. She sees the future of art in new technologies, which, however, should draw on tradition. The author’s creative workshop is therefore primarily based on the tradition of embroidery. Her primary instrumentation is thread, with which she creates paintings, objects and installations. Her work is inspired by science, especially astronomy. In 2015, she started working with the Aleksander Jabłoński Foundation and the Astronomical Observatory in Piwnice near Toruń. It has resulted in artistic projects created at the interface of two fields: science and art. Drawing from the scientific inspiration, the author builds in her work a metaphorical image of the human being. Through observing the world, she says, we gain knowledge about ourselves.
curator: Natalia Cieślak
17.01.2023 – 12.03.2023