Jan Wawrzyniak

Forms of Aporia

14-09-2019 - 23-11-2019

kajetan Berlin

»Existence means being in a predicament.« (E. M. Cioran)

 

Perhaps there is no better apothegm with which to induct the viewer into the miscellany from which Jan Wawrzyniak's drawn pictures derive their effect. In his first solo exhibition at kajetan Berlin, Wawrzyniak presents a set of new, almost oppressively evacuated works: large-format drawings that––by dint of their very opacity for the viewer––can scarcely be called pictures as such and remain largely beyond adequate description.

 

Even the simple technical question of whether we are looking at drawings or paintings is less easy to determine than one might expect. The same holds when considering the individual works themselves: surfaces emerge only to recede once more; they open and close or remain curiously intangible. Everything seems perplexingly distorted, the centres are missing, perspective is shallow, there are no vanishing points to speak of.

 

Wawrzyniak limits himself to a few preferred and trusted tools: slightly off-kilter, irregular formats, canvases primed mostly white, and charcoal, which together enable him to devise––in a series of tonally nuanced greys––partly nebulous yet always oddly precarious and indeterminate relationships between marked and unmarked space. Although his drawings are clearly defined, indeed, they are easily assimilated at first glance, they tend to defy any attempt to combine them into a meaningful whole, i.e. into a consistent form, nevertheless they still seem to relate to one another according to their own internal logic.

 

This has given rise over the years to a hermetic visual world in which neither originality nor artistic reinvention would appear to be a paramount concern. On the contrary, Wawrzyniak encounters a progressively indifferent external world with a radical emptying of the picture––not in a utopian sense of wanting to get to the heart of it, but oriented towards the cracks in human existence, which he does by leaving the scope for filling the ensuing visual void to the self-responsible viewer.

 

The remarkable essence to emerge from Wawrzyniak's new works is neither a picture nor is it not a picture, but rather the picture's inherent elusiveness, which––in relation to the exhibition's title­––is especially cogent: for Wawrzyniak, the picture is just enough a picture, though not quite picture enough to allow one to actually experience it as such.

 

»As its name indicates, an experience is a traversal, something that traverses and travels toward a destination for which it finds the appropriate passage. The experience finds its way, its passage, it is possible. And in this sense it is impossible to have a full experience of aporia, that is, of something that does not allow passage. An aporia is a non-road.«

(Jaques Derrida, »Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority«)

 

The futility of our trying to appropriate the world, this impossibility of experience, which Wawrzyniak renders palpable, is the very »predicament« that besets us. His disturbingly inconsistent pictures do indeed bestow the »experience of existence«, as Thomas Assheuer aptly put it, »but as crisis«.

 

(Translated from German by Timothy Connell, London)