Scripts for the exhibition in Wroclaw 2019
translated into English by Ulrike Bischof
Can the place you are born, as well as the places you live in throughout life, play a significant role in shaping who you are? It isn’t our choice when and where we are born and still so many things in our live depend on these factors. And isn’t an artist’s work, created by their hands and heart, particularly influenced by the time and place they are in?
Łódź, Warsaw, Vienna and Dresden are the four cities which carry particular weight in the life of artist Małgorzata Chodakowska.
The first city – Łódź – is the artist’s birthplace. In those days Łódź was no one’s idea of a dream city, the Piotrowska road was still waiting to be woken from its slumber. But a teenager will look at life through different, brighter, eyes, especially a teenager who has the creative spark in them. This creative spark was strong in Małgorzata and drove her to attend the School for the Visual Arts in Lodz.
In the mid-80’s she has moved to Warsaw to attend university, drawn to this town rebuilt out of rubble as a sign of hope. She completed 3 years of studies at the Academy of the Fine Arts under Professor Jan Kucz.
But her search for beauty and joy did not stop there and she moved to a city synonymous with art and dance like no other – Vienna. In Vienna, Małgorzata completed her artistic education with honors under the guidance of Professor Bruno Gironcoli.
To give you, dear reader, a full view of the places that shaped her life, we have to mention Małgorzata’s love for the mountains, most especially the Tatra mountains, where she was hiking and enjoying the beauty of nature, when she met the love of her life, who brought her to the fourth city mentioned above – Dresden.
At this point we can return to our opening question, trying to understand the work of the artist as a whole. The childhood growing up in Łódź gave her an early desire to search for and create beauty in this world. Growing into adulthood in Warsaw taught her to seek hope and to be persistent in the face of the ever-changing fashions of modern artistry, which use shock and awe to distract from their inability to find and show beauty in people. Vienna showed her aged and mature beauty and inspired her to mix tradition with a hint of modernity. Vienna is also the reason why so many of her sculptures, especially the fountains, are dancers.
All these cities have impacted Małgorzata’s art, as they have left their indelible and unique marks on her heart and soul, to which the artist added her dedication and talent to create her works.
In search of inspiration and new paths for her art, Małgorzata visited many cities in Europe and all over the world. Places in which art from different cultures and times comes together in dialog. She offers a recollection of her journeys:
During my first year at university I travelled to Cologne. There, in a church museum, I saw a medieval wooden sculpture of Jesus. It was sadly only a part of the whole scene depicting the crucifixion, but this small fragment carried so much of the suffering of that moment. … In Florence, I touched the Pieta by Michelangelo, which is of course not allowed – in this moment I felt that our energies were joint. … Andalusia and the heritage of the Moors. The Alhambra is a marvel, as are the flamenco dancers. … Louvre and Ermitage – we artists can really only approach these works on our knees. … When I visited Luxor in Egypt, I was so overwhelmed that I started crying, I do not know the reason why. … In Cambodia I visited the temple of Bayon and I still think it is the most marvelous and beautiful building in the whole world. … Myanmar and Buddhistic art – as a sign of reverence the statue of budda is continuously covered in gold leaf, over the centuries thicker and thicker layers build up, erasing the lines and contours of the state, turning it into an abstract work. … India and the temple of Maduraj with its millions of colourful gods and all the pretty Indian women in their fairytale Saris. … China – one of the oldest cultures, which continually fascinates me to this day with its finesse, calligraphy and porcelain, its gardens and architecture. … And on the topic of gardens – Tivoli, close to Rome, with its thousand fountains and water works is a wonderfully inspiring place. … Japan – I have been deeply impressed by zen art ever since I was a student. When I visited, I discovered the art of the Kamakura period as well as a contemporary sculptor who fascinated me: Katsura Funakoshi, who adds painted eyes made of marble to his wooden sculptures. His works are incredibly expressive and enchanting. … On this list, I of course could not neglect to mention the altar painting “Assumption of Mary” by Veit Stoß, in the Church of Saint Mary in Krakow. This is one of my favorite churches to visit when I drive to Zakopane.
When gazing into the stars on a mild summer evening, sitting in the middle of the vineyard close to Dresden, where the artist now lives and works, she concluded that the greatest beauty is found in the harmony of the human form. This is the reason why the sculptures, for which dancers from Dresden serve as models, exhibit such pure and true beauty.
Are we as people, who are so constantly enveloped by technology and the network of information, still capable of understanding the signs of nature? Those signs that are hidden within true beauty, which only protects itself by existing?
Just as our hearts are moved by a sunrise or sunset, by the view of the starry sky at night or trees under a clear blue sky, they are stirred and called to reflectance by the sculptures of Małgorzata Chodakowaska.
Have you seen the rain, illuminated by sunlight? Have you listened to the gurgling of the mountain stream? Have you marveled at the play of sunlight on the surface of the pond, filtered through the tree? If you have ever been enchanted by the magic of water, then you will understand and appreciate the beauty of the fountain statues by Małgorzata Chodakowska, which are given divine completion by the water, just as dew drops sparkle like crystals on blades of grass. The sculpture by themselves are stunning works of art, but the combination with the water turns them into unique fountains. Just like we cannot image a world without rivers, ponds and lakes, no one who has seen the fountain sculptures made by Małgorzata Chodakowska, can imagine their eternal waters running dry. Water becomes the ballet dancers skirt, the fan of the Spanish lady. It gives the angels their wings, it waves a flag translucent like a rainbow and becomes the string of the love-sick harp players instrument. It flows like the tears, shed for those who left us. Just as it flows between the hands of the lovers, like love, out of which happiness is made, directly from one heart into another.
The intrinsic meaning, the symbolism but also the simplicity of sister water, as Saint Francis called her, is immediately obvious to people all over the world. For this reason, the fountain sculptures of Małgorzata Chodakowska are dancing in Europe, China, and soon also in Vietnam. The deep feelings raised by these water art works are so fundamentally human that they are not foreign to anyone. The smallest bit of passion for life is enough for a spark to fly from these works of art to you, to awaken the child in you, who wants to play in the fountain and refresh themselves in their clear waters. Wash of the dust that the rush of daily life has covered you in… and smile, because the world is beautiful!
It is the artist that uses their heart and soul to turn a work of art into something extraordinary. Contained within this work are all the invisible things – the rich inner world of the artist, their experiences, feelings, passions and life history – and the invisible gets made visible for everyone to see. This is the difference between a work of art crafted by the hand of an artist and mass production. This difference is apparent to anyone who glances at these sculptures for even a moment. A single glance turns into an inspection from all sides and of every detail – for this reason alone, the technical skills required of the artist are exquisite. Every small blemish would immediately stand out, just as a single wrong note can bring discord to a whole piece of music.
What makes Chodakowska’s sculptures stand out? What gives this grace to these finely formed sculptures of mostly female figures? What gives them their childish innocence? Their effortless movement and mild disposition? No one who looks at these sculptures has any doubt that they can feel and look at you in turn, that they are just frozen in this very moment in front of our eyes. As soon as the last visitor has left the exhibition and the last door has been locked for the night, they return to their business – resume their interrupted dance, return the kiss, continue the conversation – which they had interrupted for the visitor’s sake. Is it their Polish soul (the much-discussed secret of the Polish women) or is it their love of the mountains, which lets these sculptures rise to the tips of their toes and almost ascend into the sky? Or is the spirit of their Saxonian home with its gentle hills? Or is it love of dance and for the dancer, who has formed her body into an ideal?
The answer to all these questions is “yes” and still, some ultimate explanation is missing. We could not get drawn so deeply into the spell of these sculptures without the unifying element of the artist’s talent. This talent grew and ripened for many years under the tutelage of the best and brightest in Warsaw and Vienna. Without a spark of genius, there would be nothing here to marvel at and praise.
When your heart is moved, when the ideal proportions of the artwork draw you into their spell, when you marvel at the liveliness of still matter, only then has the work of art fulfilled its promise. For what is art, if it does not touch the very core of our being?
Ms. Chodokowska’s sculptures touch hearts – all across the globe, from Europe to Asia, independent of cultural background. Why? Because they are beautiful. The women in these sculptures are not primarily seductive, only a little bit and that not because of their nakedness. They embody the dreams of the female soul, its longing for happiness and love, the highest goods in every time and in every place across the world.
Dawid R. Wiktorski