“Do not stop to pick flowers and keep them for later.
Go on and they will bloom on your way.”
The words of the Indian Nobel prize winner have been lingering in my mind for the last few days, making me feel uneasy and think about the priorities of life. Isn’t it often that we lack the courage or simply perseverance in not only fulfilling great dreams but also, and mainly so, in making everyday decisions? We compromise – be it out of fear, comfort or sheer deliberation – frequently without coming to realize that there might be an alternative.
With Monika in London now, I’m writing this text in Poznań, drinking coffee, and thinking about meeting her and talking again about art. I plan to show her the quote by Tagore, yet don’t suppose she would be impressed by it to the extent I was; the reason being that it is already some time since she has been living, working and developing accordingly. All of which I’m only too glad to be able to watch. And whereas some might accuse me of writing a commonplace book entry, I strongly object to those, having read many an outlandish unfounded puff piece, which can hardly be applied to Monika’s work.
What she creates can be neither ascribed to nor classified by any trend. Bearing in mind her drawing exhibition of 2006 in the art gallery Poziom, I reflect on the uncommonly mature, well thought-over works of simplified linear form, made when she was still a student. Illustrative and easily received drawings of graphic nature depicted people sitting in a café, blasé models or simply showed landscapes. Some figures of blurred faces made the impression of losing them, whereas stark contrasts appeared to sharpen the body contours to the effect of hewn wood. Similarly, Monika’s paintings of that period bear resemblance to the atmosphere of drawings – a bright figure sitting in a room seems to be looking in the direction of either a window or a door. The symbolic scene possibly translates into awaiting, the meeting moment, or perhaps solitude.
It seemed Monika might want to continue with the proven style, recognized by her audience. Her new works, however, set me wonder and think anew. I had to resume the dialogue, so to speak. Gawarecka is the sort of artist who does not refrain from experiment and exploration. In the era of blunt communication, with many to take the decorative-aesthetic short cuts, and painting brought to the level of multi-functional graphic arts for home, club and office, Gawarecka remains different. What does the label ‘different’ mean, then? What are her paintings like these days? In a way abstract – coloured patches strewn on the canvas form seemingly meaningless shapes. Having a closer look, though, it is possible to distinguish a boat floating somewhere, a land shown from the perspective of a hot air balloon, or Christ Jesus on the cross. All of a sudden, the pictures start to tell a story, admittedly, not easy to be read by a passer-by. Monika’s works are to be dwelled with, meditated upon in peace, with barely a chance for an easy answer and oversimplification. It is hard to say ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’. The dimension of this art is different: it becomes a record and an indicator of the artist’s emotions arising from the interaction with the matter and fabrics she is working on at a specific time. Her striving is to register the interplay, not to abandon or forget it. As a result the receiver can see, interpret and conclude from what has been recorded, thus witnessing the deeply personal experience of the artist bequeathing her encoded memoir. It is only her who knows the meaning, origin, and question behind each and every patch. At times she lets the painting matter lead her, then she battles against it, attempts to impose something and yet withdraws, only to start anew. That is why her works stand out of the ordinary. Her paintings become rough, one might say, aggressive or full of bravery, conversations with God alike – they do not have to be calm, as the ensuing discourse brings tensions. And this is how the old masters are brought into perspective with their approach to art as the form of encountering the absolute and mystical experience. Analyzing Monika Gawarecka’s works we come to realize that her aim is to have her message communicated, not to paint for pleasure. She gives her audience a chance to go beneath the superficial memo of modern artistic media, the omnipresent and much shrugged off drama of everyday life. Thanks to the artists of her sort, and they are not many, we are presented with the opportunity to touch our souls, heaven and God.
The most recent of Monika’s undertakings is a series illustrating boats, the moment of transition between life and death, the figures facing a choice of some kind. We see them struggling, yet calm, with their shapes more defined. The old style emblem appears. It seems that Gawarecka is at a crossroads of her artistic life. I wonder which way she will follow. Are her abstract shapes going to take on more specific forms? Life is a road, a ceaseless process through which we change every day without the possibility to stay the same. Yet, some of us, especially artists, individuals of unusual sensitivity, are capable of registering those changes, be it by means of memoirs, music or drawing. Such actions, in turn, might be associated with therapy, which probably isn’t far from being true.
Personally speaking, I opt for engaged art rather than the one which is merely pleasant to look at. Watching a painter develop fascinates me as it provides insight into spiritual growth of an artist. Thus I feel rewarded witnessing the transformation process in Monika Gawarecka’s paintings.
Review written by Martyna Wróblewska, Poznan, 2010