Iwo Rutkiewicz — Performance

24.06 — 20.07.2019

Opening: Monday, June 24th, at 7:00 PM

The series ‘Positions on Paper’ came about over three months in the previous year. It consists of 135 paintings done according to the particular positioning of Bruce Nauman’s body during his one-hour performance, captured on video as ‘Wall/Floor Positions’, in 1968. The subsequent parts of the series came about in small batches of a few paintings per day. Each batch was characterized by a different premise in terms of style and colour, which ranged from the figurative to the entirely abstract.

The starting point for each of these works was the outline of the performer’s body, traced according to the figures captured in the freeze-frames of Nauman’s video. The choice of positioning in the original video was partly determined by Nauman, choreographed when he was prepping a performance in 1965, yet it was also partly determined by chance, adapted to the body’s capability and the effects of fatigue. Analogously, the style of the works in the series of paintings also followed the trail of the earlier ones, maintaining certain stylistic elements, such as the starkness of the background and a focus on the performer’s body, while factoring in the desire to make changes. The background of the performance space has been replaced by the blank space of the painterly medium, in this case, a plain sheet of paper. Nauman’s conceptual work makes use of various forms of media – performance, sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, graphic art – but not painting, which he’d studied at an early point in his education, but which he abandoned just as quickly. ‘Positions on Paper’ presents a translation of Nauman’s works into this abandoned language.

The second piece in the show is a video work made up of compilation of scenes cut from feature films in which painters are shown destroying their own paintings. One of Bruce Nauman’s best-known quotes says: ‘If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.’ This video work refers to the reverse of that idea, to the moments when the artist wants to stay out of the public eye, but continues to work feverishly in the private space of the studio. It’s a work of film that reveals the stereotypical, romantic fantasies that revolve around the artist’s struggle. It’s probably just as superficial in its scope as a vision of a conceptual artist carrying out their work in a thoroughly planned-out, ‘cold’ manner.

Iwo Rutkiewicz