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Witek Orski, What is beautiful I do not know anymore

March 31, 2023

Opening of the exhibition: 31.03.2023
31.03. – 13.05.2023
Curator: Katarzyna Krysiak

Witek Orski’s photographic installation is a contemporary reinterpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s famous Melancholia I (1514), one of the most mysterious and, at the same time, most frequently described and interpreted works of art in history. Ever since antiquity, the experience of melancholy has been widely present in works from various spheres of culture, from philosophy, literature, theatre, the visual arts, music, films and so forth. Melancholy is sometimes associated with depression. Nowadays, it is a commonly experienced reaction to the sense of uncertainty, emptiness and hopelessness which is bound up, for instance, with an awareness of the ever-progressing catastrophe of climate change and the threat of war, or with systemic cruelty against migrants. As the antithesis of utopia, it also reflects the insecurity about what tomorrow will bring and scepticism in terms of ‘hope for the future’ which torment young people in particular.

Orski refers directly to Dürer’s iconic representation of the concept of melancholy, shattering it into pieces and subjecting selected fragments, loaded with symbolism, to interpretation, fixing them in radical, contemporary compositions captured through the medium of photography. The photos are an endeavour to discover counterparts in the world of today to the gestures and symbols encoded in the Dürer.
The title of the exhibition, What is beautiful I do not know anymore, which contains an unreserved element of doubt, was inspired by a sentence from Dürer’s notes; Was Schönheit ist, weiß ich nicht, obgleich sie vielen Dingen anhaftet, which dates from before the creation of Melancholia I.