The “Vanitas” exhibition presents Polish artists who represent various fields of art (painting, sculpture, graphics, objects, photography, installations, video). Participants of the exhibition: Katarzyna Adaszewska, Marzena Balewska, Paweł Baśnik, Grzegorz Bednarski, Maciej Bieniasz, Tadeusz Boruta, Marta Ipczyńska, Robert Kaja, Anna Kola, Stanisław Kośmiński, Katarzyna Makieła-Organisty, Janusz Matuszewski, Krzysztof Mazur, Wiesław Przyłuski, Mirosław Sikorski, Aleksandra Simińska, Monika Shaded, Aleksandra Sojak-Borodo, Marek Szary, Piotr Zaporowicz. Through various ways of interpreting the concept of vanitas by the artists, the exhibition is to stimulate reflection on the inevitability of death and the meaning of transience of human life, while expressing delight over the fragility of earthly beauty.
Vanitas and the related concepts, such as: ars moriendi, dance macabre, memento mori or coffin portrait, might be associated only with ancient art, especially of the medieval period
and baroque. However, universality and irreversibility of death make the reflection on the transience of human life a continuously relevant topic.
The word vanitas is taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes and is traditionally understood as vanity (vanity of vanities). However, in the Hebrew original Bible there is a word hebel, which in Greek translations is interpreted as either vanity, pride or transience, fleetingness, gust of wind. This divergence in understanding vanitas is visible also in the works of the artists invited to take part in the Vanitas exhibition at the Municipal Gallery bwa in Bydgoszcz.
The exhibited works – representing different fields of art – create a broad area for interpretation of this concept – from a pessimistic reflection on the imminence of death, regarded as a transition into nothingness, to the hardship of searching for a deeper meaning of life and hope of a sensed mystery, to the attitude of coming to terms with the prospect of transience and delight over the fragility of earthly beauty found in the God’s creation, which is just a reflection of the eternal harmony and beauty.
Regardless of trends prevailing in the history of art, changing fashions, a variety of phenomena of contemporary art, an artistic reflection on transience – described here symbolically as vanitas – is something beyond the avant-garde and the rearguard. Numerous vanitas exhibitions organised in the recent years by various art galleries and museums, as well as the presence of vanitas themes at both individual exhibitions and reviews of art of some artistic environments is the confirmation of this fact. The thought of death inseparable accompanying humans requires a specific attitude – an artistic one, as well – towards this imminent event. /Danuta Pałys/
curator – Danuta Pałys
opening – 16.02.2017 6pm