PAINTING FROM LIFE
From the country house in Kurpie, there is a view of the pond, a trace of the old Narew. This most capricious of all Polish rivers now takes a more convenient route and seems to have long forgotten about this abandoned section, its unnecessary leftovers. Yet the pond defends itself against falling into total oblivion. It laboriously collects rainwater to survive the scorching summer heat, although sometimes it does escape deep into itself to give way to the lush meadow. In winter, it joyfully absorbs snowstorms and falls into temporary glaciation. In spring, it appears magnificent, proclaiming that it could even become a real lake. In summer, it shrinks, thickens, and takes on colour, aware of the fate of its siblings who have vanished without a trace. In autumn, it sighs with relief and hope, awaiting the next year.
The Kurpie house is a place of respite for painter Teresa Starzec and her family, an object of special care, protected by the heart like an intimate memory, a hidden dream. It’s a place where time is allowed to flow differently – with sudden reveries, hunts for elusive epiphanies, and – finally – the calm rhythm of observation.
Over many years, the artist became accustomed to the peculiarity of that time, its colours, its light, its mercuriality. She uses light watercolours to respond to quick changes, so that a flicker may be captured on dozens of papers, different from one another by a fraction of a tone, by a vibration of the hand, by a brush bristle. Moments brought to a standstill require oil paints and canvas. The format should be as small as the view, accommodating just a slender strip of water that can be seen from the house. The focus is on colour variants, seasons, moods of the day.
The moods of nature entwine with the moods of the artist. The brightness of water and the smell of a meadow might be disturbed by a migraine or a moment of distress; the colour of the day becomes the colour of her humour, the vibrations of the heated air become the rhythm of her pulse. In this way, a record of the unique everyday coexistence of man and nature is created. A diary of life.
IMAGINE A BLUEISH ORANGE COLOUR
In a new series of paintings entitled Imagine a blueish orange colour, Teresa Starzec continues to delve into the essence of nature and painting. The artist transforms a landscape into recurring abstract forms. Her painting is saturated with colours in which a swatch is combined with a wide brush line. A specific landscape- a river, lakes, rocks- is simplified to triangular, elliptical, or oval shapes. The artist first tests her analytical approach by transforming landscapes into drawings, which become the starting point for her paintings. This act of drawing is also present in her paintings, in free, sometimes single, and sometimes overlapping lines that form the compositions. Works from recent years, of various dimensions, are shown on the walls of the Atelier Foundation, creating one entity with the interior. Some paintings overlap, creating a kind of a three-dimensional collage.
In Teresa Starzec’s paintings, landscape is a reference and an inspiration. She takes a long time to work on one motif in many paintings. The motifs recur, intermingle, and result from one another. The motif of the mountain has been present in the artist’s works since the 1980s, both in paintings and woodcuts.
In her new series of paintings from 2014, the mountain once again dominates. Its form is simplified, slightly widened or narrowed and completely fills the canvas; it could even be said that the canvases are too small to hold it. The top of the mountain disappears beyond the edge. Nothing other than the mountain is in the field of vision anymore.
There are flashes of light on the surface of the mountain. Sometimes the mountain splits and shows its crystalline or fleshy interior. Sometimes it blurs in the air. When painted with a vibrant color and shaky texture, the mountain almost loses its materiality. At other times, it is striking with its solid geometric form, a swelling cone.
There is only one mountain and repeating it allows for experimentation with colours. Hence, Mountains are created; a study of colour and form.
BRILLIANT, CINNABAR, AND YELLOWISH GREEN
Red, orange, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple
colours of sunsets
sky reflected in water
the changing seasons of the year.
Like film frames
develop with a pulsating repeatability of shape.
The centuries of painting build up in a closed oval.
The paintings of Teresa Starzec are focused on observation and on the extraction of colour from landscapes. Each one is based on a landscape; it is its affirmation, like a cult reduced to meditation on one shape presented in countless colours. Her paintings contain the essence of nature, whose changeability has its own repetitive cycle, and the infinite shapes boil down to the unchangeable structure of the crystal.
THE PICTURE IS MUCH CLEARER NOW
Teresa Starzec has been painting the same fragment of the landscape for years – a small lake nested among meadows next to the Narew River. The artist continues the tradition of landscape painting and, in staying faithful to one motif, reducing it almost to abstraction.
The landscape is seen from above, from the high bank of the river, and fills the entire canvas leaving no room for the horizon. Wide lines delineate the changing contours of the lake, seen from close up and from afar. These paintings are like maps written in light and colours, documenting the volatility of this piece of the landscape, depending on the time of day and year. Sometimes the view stretches over a piece of the river and another lake with surrounding meadows, but it always leaves an almond-shaped pond in the centre of attention. In the new paintings, this shape is repeated, but a new point of reference appears – a smaller lake which also changes in size, sometimes almost disappearing, blurring, and sometimes appearing like a small reflection of the larger lake, which it oscillates between approaching and leaving. Changes in visual acuity, a look from under half-closed eyelids, careful observation of the landscape line – all this is a part of the artist’s practice and translates into the richness of her record. Her work is a constant exercise in observation.
The paintings of Teresa Starzec focus on the infinite spectrum of colours inscribed in the frame of one motif. The landscape almost melts into the colours or is drawn by them. Sometimes the view is so sharp and the air so clear that the lines of the landscape form a distinctive, almost geometric drawing. Sometimes scattered light blurs the view in permeating tones. The colours are then like a thin, semi-transparent layer between the eye and the view.
Oil paintings from 2006 and 2012 are juxtaposed with large-format watercolours from 2006, which introduce additional reflection on colour. In watercolours, the starting motif of the small beehive architecture became an opportunity to develop colour variations. Geometric divisions and the colours filling them bring to mind tones inscribed in a musical scale or score. The grid of lines is dominated by white rectangles, between which those filled with colour sound, as if these individual tones were taken out of reality.
Teresa Starzec synthesizes a landscape by breaking it down into individual parts. The narrow mandorla of the lake and the diagonal lines of the meadows that build the perspective become signs. This brings together the most important elements of the landscape and at the same time, opens up its viewing perspectives. The images become independent of the view they represent. A fragment becomes a whole.
The exhibition Windhorses by Teresa Starzec includes a video work and a series of photographs. The artist has chosen several frames from her observations of details – lights, shadows, colours. In these works, the elements and their variations are repeated; they are fragments of things or their shadows, the immaterial and ephemeral traces of everyday life. Looking at details is conducive to meditation. This is suggested by the title itself, as Windhorse is the name of a symbol found on Buddhist prayer flags.
The video work Windhorses consists of one looped frame with colourful flags moving in slow motion in the wind. Their faded colours give the impression of being seen from afar or through fog. You can hear the sound of wind, which juxtaposed with the image gives it an unreal feel, as if it came from another place.
Time begins to flow more slowly. The next step is to stop time.
The series of photographs depicts repeated forms – dark blue shadows against blue plaster walls. At first these scraps of shapes seem random, but after a while they become familiar, while still remaining in the sphere of guesswork. The panoramic format of the photographs gives the impression that they are frames from a film. Hung on one line, they are looped, so the series has no beginning or end. Time and movement are present, only stopped and spread over individual shots.
The movement of images and the sound of the video work is echoed in the shadows captured in the photographs.
In Teresa Starzec’s work, landscape serves as an inspiration and a point of departure. Her paintings focus on individual elements of the landscape. She develops the chosen motif, a lake or a boulder, so that it becomes an almost abstract form. A motif whose surface reflects colours. It is by the use of colours that the artist builds subsequent variations on the chosen form. For her, colour is an organic element whose infinite shades are directly connected with nature. Teresa Starzec is fascinated by the changeability of light depending on the time of day or year. A single motif is shown in countless colour variations, but the painter also changes the perspective of its shape: she stretches or expands it.
In her new series of oil paintings Crystals, which she started in 2014, the mountain boulder separates from the landscape and becomes both a mountain and a crystal. The scale does not matter here. The form of a boulder, built of thick lines, fills the frames of the canvases, and on some it is lengthened or shortened. Lines and colours intersect the shape, simultaneously showing its surface and cross-sections of the interior. The repetitiveness of the motif opens up countless possibilities. The artist creates a collection of shapes-crystals, with one starting point – the single mountain boulder.
The tangle of metal elements fills the rooms, and on the outside, it fights with the grass for dominance. Here and there you may find order, a kind of system sorting individual parts according to their shapes. But the categories overlap. Mechanical parts are next to kitchen utensils. The garden is overgrown with rims, spokes, and pipes. The seasons pass by, only more rust and weeds appear. Inside the house, a random labyrinth of intricate constructions clogs up doors, windows, sinks, and cabinets. Corners are littered with screws and plates, some of which have been swept into piles. They are lying in rows on tables and worktops, flashing their shiny surfaces or bright varnish.
There is no denying that the situation has gotten out of control. Actually, nobody knows when the accumulation of matter clogged the space. But this accumulation has neither suppressed nor stifled the space. The multitude of metal parts conceals a catastrophe. If one element is removed, the rest collapses with an unpleasant noise. And the disassembled mechanisms will not move. Nobody knows whether they are missing parts or if nobody knows how to reassemble them.
This brings to mind a watchmaker shrunken by old age and lost in the labyrinth of his own workshop.