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Opening Hours

Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm


Art Agenda Nova
Batorego 2, Krakow

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Łukasz Surowiec


Vision is the primary function of sight. The look allows us to recognize and move around the world. It is a prerequisite for knowing, after all, equals to know. “Nice to meet you” by Łukasz Surowiec can be one of the lessons of looking at a human being as a being that becomes in the process, constructed and ambiguous. In this case, the cognitive aspect is returnable. The viewer with the power of sight in the space of the exhibition becomes the object of observation itself. Treated as the subject of external viewing, he must face reification. In a metaphorical sense, contemplating the exhibition, he performs an act of introspection, because he reaches the knowledge of himself and his.

The objects that make up the exhibition always refer to the context of human corporeality. Their precise form, constituting an autonomous aesthetic value, betrays its anthropological references. Is it through a shape inspired by the wonderful machinery of our body, or through the creation of objects that as dentures – substitutes become part of the body. It is, however, an art in which physicality (a specific rex extensa of man) does not manifest itself directly, but rather exists on the principle of suggestion. Minimalist sterility – sublimation of small sculptures is located next to unprocessed and primordial matter, indicating seemingly distant spaces: the world of culture and the domain of nature. These are two orders that constitute us in the bodily aspect and as cogitans who are aware of or not able to construct their own person through transgression in both directions. The situation of “specific servicing” through the exchange of parts justified in the context of the narrative of science can be fulfilled by the myth of immortality. This tale finds its contemporary heroes, whose ideas can be perceived as devotional articles, specific “saints”, though not without a trace of irony.
The artist, trying to give us an idea of ourselves, asks us where in the field of potential possibilities and variability there is an unchangeable being, something like the real essence, though only existence is real.

curator: Szymon Maliborski

Łukasz Surowiec born 19.09.1985 in Rzeszów

2000 – 2005 High School of Fine Arts in Rzeszów
2005 Beginning of studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow
2005 – 2006 School of Artistic Design of Clothes in Krakow
2007 – 2009 Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań
2009 – 2010 Universität der Künste Berlin
2008 – 2009 Scholarship of the Minister of Culture

Video from the exhibition:

Difficult beauty

Łukasz Surowiec’s exhibition “Nice to meet you” at the Krakow Art Agenda Nova Gallery drew a very coherent and well thought-out, both in artistic and curatorial terms, a vision of the human identity – not as a given, but becoming, constructed, also based on the aspect of carnality .

The presentation of the body as a perfect construction initiated in antiquity and developed in the Renaissance has been broken in the artistic discourse of the twentieth century, when, among other things, attention was paid to the special role of cultural conditions in building the bodily identity of the subject. Tracking body motifs in culture is associated with the value of conviction about the superiority of the spirit over the matter of corporeality. The break with this reigning dogma for many years was largely associated with the emergence of feminist thought and psychoanalysis. The researchers of the first group paid particular attention to the deconstruction of the myth of the “evil body”, which was omitted in many theoretical considerations. Feminists have pointed out that the individual often identifies himself through the body and not only through the ideas that are swirling in it. Psychoanalysis paid attention to a similar aspect, appreciating the shaping of the individual through the body. It is associated with performative role-giving in the first moment of coming into the world: “there is a girl” or “there is a boy”.

Getting to know the body is done most intensively with the help of the senses. The most significant seems here. Often it is he who ultimately decides whether the boundary of sight is exceeded by touch, taste or smell. While in everyday space intense gazing at any subject is sometimes accused of obsession or voyeurism, it is very desirable in the gallery. It is thanks to him that getting to know a work of art becomes possible. Eyesight is taking place here, setting it on the pedestal of the senses. Łukasz Surowiec in the works he presented at the exhibition played the space of the gallery as a space of privileged looking. His objects trigger feedback. The viewer with the power of sight in the space of the exhibition becomes the object of observation himself – said the curator, Szymon Maliborski, in the introductory text to the problems of the exhibition. The first work posted right at the entrance to the gallery was displayed on the wall, a large eye focused on one point. The question arises – who do we really get to know at the exhibition? Collected exhibits? Or is our reflection reflected and returned to us? The raw material does not give ready prescriptions. He himself becomes a companion of the viewer in search of answers to germinating questions.

In one of the works, he obsessively touches the face, pulls, kneads, looks as if he was trying to get inside himself, to get rid of his own existential meat. Leather is the border, it separates internal territory from the outside world. In this division it can be seen that what “outside of us” becomes a separate space, a dangerous place from which to separate oneself. To escape, to hide what is precious inside yourself. Paradoxically, we meet other people on this thin border, covered with brown freckles and a delicate hair follicle.

In other works, questions arise about the internal structure of a human being. The body is us, thanks to him, we define ourselves in space, in relationships with others. Knowledge of our presence is the knowledge of the body – a touch at the moment of falling, cold on the back of the neck or drops of sweat at the temples.

What defines us remains – after all – painfully impermanent. It is enough for one disruption, a stronger hit, and something breaks, breaks. At every moment of this time, water comes out of us, the beginning of life and an unbridled element. Tear, blood, saliva – a man consists on average in 70-80% of water. She is in a man. The exhibition features a glazed aquarium, filled to the brim with water with black lumps of coal on the bottom. A design that refers precisely to the interior, its fluidity and instability. Just like with the skin, a more powerful blow would be enough to make the quick burst, and the hidden one leaked on top.

Being in impermanence raises the need for stability, strong support, and the creation of the life spine. Not without a reason, next to the aquarium, on the small shelf there are shapes similar to the cut bones. Eventually, the skeleton remains on the body, a silent sign of an earlier presence.

In the order of life and death, the need for immortality always arises. Repair of damaged, defective parts. Made of a chrome and crystal, the object that is put on display refers to the problem of the ethics of modern medicine. With the appearance of the possibility of replacing permanently damaged internal organs of the human body, the questions arose – is not this action too much interference in the body? Transplants, joint replacements are currently nothing new, they often become synonymous with new life. The exhibition brings to mind the silhouette of Robert Jarvik, the creator of the artificial heart. The surgery to implant him with a severely ill Barney Clark took place in 1982. Unfortunately, he died of blood clotting disorders. Artificial heart as a substitute for the original life-supporting organ raises questions about the nature of man. What determines us ultimately? How can we replace our ineffective organs to still be human?
The second thread taken by Łukasz Surowiec is a more cultural aspect. The body with the emergence of mass culture has been subjected to specific repression. This thread was particularly explored in the 90s of the twentieth century by artists associated with critical art. They were mainly referring to the problem of a body entangled in the mechanisms of power. The artists, through their actions, tried to re-evaluate and expose the mechanisms of the cult of the ever-young and slim body or other changes that it is constantly subjected to. All these realizations were often quite controversial, so the label “controversial” clung to them. In the works of Łukasz Surowiec, reference can be made to this type of practice. However, they are not direct, they are more like a delicate play with the recipient and a critical reference to this “myth of youth” of the society of the second half of the twentieth century.

On the floor there is a woman’s body made of wood. It is in a pose resembling model settings on catalog pages with underwear or billboards advertising swimsuits. Depriving him of the limbs makes the whole sculpture bent in an unnatural pose. Beauty is associated with effort, constant pursuit of the ideal.

The short video presents women in their forties or fifties who undergo physical exercise. With often exceeding their strength and abilities, they do their crunches, squats, and push-ups. Contemporary culture does not tolerate old age, sagging skin, wrinkles. They must be removed, retouched, modeled, blurred traces of their presence. They are two orders constituting us in the bodily aspect and as acquirers (res cogitans) realizing, or not being able to build their own person through transgression in both directions – sums up Szymon Maliborski.

Nice to meet you Łukasz Surowiec is an exhibition asking about the essence of man. About the ways of its construction, both in the biological and cultural dimensions. As a result of the collision of these two dynamic, overlapping worlds, a small crack appears – unchanging and permanent – the essence of humanity. Extremely fragile and fleeting, difficult to define, but palpable for everyone.

Marta Kudelska
19.06.2010, e-weave