Irmina Staś, Tooth to Tooth

March 18, 2020

Exhibition runs: 1.07.-21.08.2020

Curator: Katarzyna Krysiak

 

The Polish title of the exhibition, Ząb w ząb, is a neological phrase based on two expressions. One is ‘a tooth for a tooth’, which has its roots in the ancient Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian code of law. The other is a Polish expression, kropka w kropkę, which translates as ‘identical, down to the last detail’. The title clearly describes the composition of Irmina Staś’s latest paintings, which are an evolution of the Ornaments series she began in 2018. It also alludes to the concepts of genetic similarity, recurrence and the inevitability of fate. The large-scale canvases, which are covered with a simplified image of a tooth multiplied in rhythmic arrangements emerging disquietingly from a black background, trigger an acute sense of annihilation, of the end of existence, though not of the human race alone, but the end of living nature. All that remains are teeth.

At the same time, the form and contrasting colouristic solutions of the paintings mean they can be considered as an op art experiment. Side by side and ‘head to toe’, the teeth seem to vibrate and create after-images. The scale of the works intensifies the impression of optical illusions, working on the viewer visually and well-nigh physically.In her Ornaments series, which she has been developing since 2018, Staś condenses single fragments of the body, such as an eye, a breast, a fingernail or a tooth, into a simplified graphic form abstracted from context. Once multiplied, it creates compositions which bring to mind patterns typical of fabrics and carpets. She is interested in the particular significance of ornamentation, which has not only enhanced the aesthetic value of architecture and artisanal handicrafts since time immemorial, but also carries symbolic content. As she herself puts it:

I’ve encrypted all sorts of content into my decorative Ornaments series, things like closeness, genetic similarity, identity, attraction, the uncertainty of existence in the world and in relationships, and the monotonous and inescapable journey toward the end, towards death and the loss of individual characteristics.

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Irmina Staś was born in 1986. She attended the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied under Professor Leon Tarasewicz at the Faculty of Painting and received her MA in 2012. She is now working as a graduate teaching assistant to Professor Paweł Susid in the faculty’s Concept of the Painting section.

Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the BWA Gallery, Zielona Góra (2019), Le Guern Gallery, Warsaw (2017, 2019), Miejski Ośrodek Sztuki (the City Arts Centre), Gorzów Wielkopolski (2018), the Krynki Gallery, Krynki (2018), the wizyTUjąca Gallery, Warsaw (2013, 2016), the Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw (2016) and the STRABAG Kunstforum (2014). She has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions in Poland and abroad at institutions such as the National Museum in Gdańsk (2019), the Vélez-Málaga contemporary art centre (2016), the 41st and 42nd Bielska Autumn Painting Biennale at the Bielska BWA Gallery, Bielsko-Biała (2013, 2015) and the Museum of Modern Fine Art, Minsk (2015). She has won two Ministry of Culture and National Heritage scholarships, in 2015 and 2019, and she was a Strabag Artaward International finalist in 2013.

 

An essaby by Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko ‘The Limits of Irmina Staś’s Painting’  published in the catalogue of the exhibition.

Phot. Norbert Piwowarczyk