He waits on the shore of a great and slow river
on the other shore Charon the sky shines dimly
(besides, it isn’t the sky at all) Charon
he is already here, he only threw the rope over the branch
she (this soul) brings out the obol
that turned sour under the tongue for a little while
she sits on the back of an empty boat
all this without a word
if only the moon
or a dog’s howling
“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks”
Simonides of Ceos
Monika Shaded surprises us in her newest cycle called “Shore”. A lot has happened since the last exhibition I wrote a review about – more than 10 years ago.
Monika Shaded has become a mature creator and that’s what she shows today to her audience – between symbolical figures; cut edges sharp as a knife, contrasting levels, with a confident trait, the simplicity of a blank sheet and the ordinariness of craft paper. The “Shore” cycle is not a typical sketchbook in the way it usually is understood, however it’s not too far from it either. There is no more sight of color, light and space; such essential matters in Monika’s previous works. There is no texture multiplicity. The artist uses a black and white pastel only; charcoal – thanks to which she can obtain, as it seems – a rich spectrum. The poor use of form allows her to be brutally honest. The strongest feelings are written, the words are sure. The reaction is free of all sugar-coated filters. The image can be in the making for many days, weeks, months. The feelings of the artist are changing and with them the whole concept can be affected. The finished work is encoded – the spectator, while interpreting it, tries to find the real and only meaning underneath the layers of pictorial matter and gesture. Is the artist hiding something? What is she really trying to say? Why is she scraping off the paint sometimes, just as if she suddenly decided to reveal her primary thought to the audience? Or perhaps it is just an aesthetic procedure? In the ‘’Shore’’ cycle, we have a new quality – the genuineness and audacity of the sketch, as well as the overworked emotion – a considered and unwavering gesture, enclosed in a frame.
The boat theme, as a symbolical figure, appears in the work of Monika Shaded already in 2008. The boat enables the path of the soul into the netherworld. A lonely journey held in an absolute silence. The line on the horizon is unclear. The human being knows its destination, but he does not see it, there is no shore, no haven. The river runs between the mountains, they absorb everything around them. They shut every way of escape. The space, although immense, paradoxically makes a claustrophobic impression. Man finds himself in the middle of two contradictory realities – heaven and earth. He owns his double citizenship, and so what? He got stuck with it somewhere in between. Until now, the path of the artist’s creative work was filled with light and color. However, her newest work gives a sense of uneasiness and reconciliation with fate. It seems that man is incapable of doing anything to accelerate the journey, without a chance of having an impact on its direction, he has to give in to the current and trust all will be well. On the other hand, it is possible that he doesn’t want to reach the shore whatsoever, afraid of his own finiteness. The world around seems to be overwhelming, incomprehensible, mad. Then, the shore is a mystery, the unknown. The boat is a synonym of safety. In it, man flows through life, the life he holds on to so tightly, even if it often is filled with pain, sadness, sickness, fear or suffering. The ‘’Shore’’ cycle was made in the time of the still ongoing war in Ukraine. Of course, things we are not aware of could have taken place in the artist’s life, which could have had a significant impact on her during her working progress. Yet, thanks to these known circumstances of the past and unfortunately present days, the ‘’Shore’’ cycle can be looked at from a brand new perspective.
Monika Shaded highlights that her images are meant to tell about who she is specifically in the time she is painting. So who was she then and what was she going through during her working process? The “Shore” cycle is a tale close to many of us. Monika Shaded lets us read these pages of her diary like never before.
Martyna Wróblewska Zano