Leszek Knaflewski — Drawings (Koło Klipsa 1983–1990)

21.02 — 17.03 2012

The picture is growing, getting larger, develops new gateways into which objects, situations flow…

Leszek Knaflewski’s drawings are the documentation of motives that have, until now, been elusive for institutional focus and at the same time give backstage access to the shows realized by the Klips’ Circle group, co-founded by Knaflewski. One of the most important groups of the ‘80s, it developed the experience of Polish environment. However, the members would build the dramatic effect of space not through abstraction but, in their own words: “mystical realism”. The Klips’ Circle installations, functioning at the meeting point of visual arts and scenography, would skilfully manipulate sensual experiences (smell and sound were also important) and the scale of the objects.

The ‘80s, marked on the one hand by the martial law and on the other – the Polish Round Table Agreement, produced a crop of art groups. Joint action is an answer to weakness and impotence of institutions; the official public spaces are unwilling to exhibit the new generation’s works. A concept of expression appears, in contrast with conceptualism; it is such a negative differentiation that contributed to the decade being perceived as the alienated time space and deprived the expression of the element of contemplation. However, the Klips’ Circle activity proves that division wrong. The group would problematize not only the gallery as an environment for works, but also the relations between objects (their “social life”) and the presence of a viewer’s body within an exhibition space. The “post-painting sculpture” (as Anda Rottenberg described the Klips’ Circle actions) was the effect of collaboration between the group’s members, who gave up defining individual contribution.

It’s hard to view the ‘80s and not take the political context into consideration. Knaflewski’s drawings provide interesting commentary. Involvement – if so, then of what kind? Escapism – where? With whom? Truth – whose? Illusion – what does it uncover? The motives that interested Knaflewski do not follow any systems, therefore his works cannot be regarded as “the traces of the era”. It’s a manifesto of singleness, much sought for nowadays; consent for personal narrative; mythicization of reality that extracts a different potential than the one emphasized by – often oppressive – rationalism.

Knaflewski points out to the materiality of the world around us, to the causative properties of factors that ostensibly do not have any influence on us. Things are born, things die. The key notion is unity – without a division into dead and alive; each element is treated as equal and communicates with the others. According to Knaflewski, it’s a “democracy in communicating” that concerns dependence, intimacy with other forms of vibrating matter – up until the moment when the borderline between the object and the subject gets slightly blurred.

text: Aleksandra Jach