Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński (współpraca: Jerzy Pustelnik)

In the beginning was script

In what Mircea Eliade wrote years ago about man calling for the ‘sign’ in order to terminate tensions caused by the relativity of things, and
fear caused by disorientation, he associated the process of the generation and creation of signs with the need for an ‘absolute fulcrum’.
According to Eliade, self-sanctioning and the justification of one’s personal existence on a broader – transcendental plane – requires that reality be symbolized and ritualized. Since human beings cannot live without signs, they have come to see the generation of signs and the ‘marking’ of the micro- and macrocosm as equivalent to the production and materialization of meaning without which life would be hard to imagine. This is where the gift of language has turned out indispensable in its entire spectrum, embracing pictorial, textual, sonar and
chirographic or even gestural realizations. On the other hand, we must not forget that experiments, reflection and gestural undertakings that are demonstrated through individual expression must precede all acts of linguistic usurpation (art certainly being one). Symbolic acts and rituals created by humans gradually acquire increasingly refined, hence secondary, articulation and specific syntax and order.

The ‘In the beginning was script’ exhibition project refers to the creation, generation and distribution of what we may describe as civilization-related ‘meanings’. Many of these concepts have a very long history dating back to the most ancient traditions that also embrace the heritage of prophetic thought and founding ideas. It is among these that the space of myth and mythography emerged. Among the most important conceptual signposts of those times, there were ones born within the framework of the Greek philosophical tradition of the archē
(beginning,the first principle) and pneuma (breath, the primary element of matter, in relation to which ideas were apparently derivative). In turn, in the biblical book of Genesis, the transcendent figure setting the cosmos in motion is the ‘Spirit’ (breath) and the Word of God. In either case, however, the narration refers to the ‘sign’, which can produce larger narrative wholes within the framework of a specific alphabet and syntax.

Writing about painting in his book Of Grammatology, Jacques Derrida says that unlike the alphabet, it is not connected with any definite language. Capable of recreating any sensual being, it is a kind of universal script. Following Derrida’s argument, we could say that art is in fact a kind of script appended with signs and symbolic contexts that do not constitute an integral part of notation, and yet construct its meaning
and interpretation. This is why the most important in an artwork is not what is materially present, but what gives a palpable quality to the ‘space of absence’, i.e. an aspect of work called forth through reading and interpretation.

All artists highlighted at the ‘In the beginning
was script’ show have for years dealt with issues featuring in this generally-cultural and symbolic context, and their works initiate a discourse on, among other questions, the eschatology and ontology of things presented and represented. In brief, what they do, essentially, is critical reflection on the (in)/commensurable relationship between the copy and the model, the object being depicted and the linguistic designation
that has been depicted, or, as Jorge Luis Borges metaphorically puts it, the incongruity between the map and the territory mapped. In fact as old as the hills, the problem dates back to the times of the controversy between the iconodules and iconoclasts, the latter pondering on the status of the icon and on whether it is admissible to represent things sacred and ‘not of this world’. Since every image is merely a memory or a distorted reflection of an idea or of reality, what was to win sooner or later was the formula of probability or mimesis because life without
symbols and without images would be hard to imagine. They are much like a first-aid kit of metaphors, which, by making the understanding of the world easier to us, make the world more ‘humane’ and more bearable. Finally, it is not without meaning that metaphors of all things, and therefore also art and its products, are the remedy to Eliade’s fear and disorientation in a situation when everything round us is impermanent
for, as Heraclitus argued, ‘There is nothing permanent except change’. Because of this, the exhibition also brings works questioning or affirming the impermanent and transitory quality of both the world and its artistic representations.

The relative quality of language and
the arbitrary quality of the sign (hence every kind of script) determined by the definite and temporal cultural context, is a question coupled with the oscillatory and changeable quality of the world and humans contemplating, gesticulating and producing symbolic representations of things. In consequence, the timeless tension between what we define as culture and nature comes to motivate human actions and certainly
functions as the timeless subject of art and its iconic depictions. The aesthetic of the language and the beauty of the world represented do not exhaust the problems of the exhibition. Artistic and purely conceptual issues are likewise covered. This is why the ‘In the beginning was script’ project is to an equal degree a tale of the surrounding world and a reflection on the limitations and potential of artistic language. Using it as
a medium and workshop, they call forth an alphabet of their own and, with it, create their own syntax.

Project curator and author: Roman Lewandowski

Galeria Klimy Bocheńskiej

ul. Ząbkowska 27/31 (on the premises
of the former Koneser distillery)
00-987 Warszawa

opening party: Friday, 9 May, 8 p.m.
(through 31 May)

Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński
Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński


Józef Bury
(born 1961)

Artist and art theorist credited with articles, conferences and translations in the field of
contemporary art history and theory.

Selected exhibitions:
2007, pair02 International
Performance Event, Lahti.

‘Infr’Action 07’, Festival International d’Art Performance. Sète, France.

‘Medium.... Post... Mortem....’, Contemporary Art Centre la Châtaigneraie, Liége.

‘Interfejs Interface’, 6th International Arts Meeting Katowice 2007, bwa, Katowice.

2006, ‘Ślady pamięci” [Memory Traces], Galeria Klimy Bocheńskiej, Fabryka Trzciny, Warsaw.

2005, ‘Villes anciennes/Art nouveau’, Centre en art actuel Le Lieu, Galerie Vu, Quebec.

‘Emotions’, 5th Science and Arts Festival, Arsenal Gallery, Toruń, Poland.

2004, ‘Attitudes’, Du visuel en peinture, within the framework of the ‘Nova Polska’ Polish Cultural Year in France,
Perpignan, Paris.

2003, ‘Fort Sztuki’ [Fort Art], Galeria Krzysztofory, Cracow.

2002, ‘manif Seoul 2002’, Manifestation d’Art Nouveau International et Forum, Seoul’02, Seoul.

Grzegorz Klaman
(born 1959)

Studies: 1980–85, Department of Sculpture, State Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk.

1984, inauguration of the Rotational Gallery in various places in Gdańsk.

1985, beginning of employment at the Academy of Arts in Gdańsk where he is now full professor. He was founder of the Wyspa [Island] Gallery (operating since 1985), co-author of the concept of
the Otwarte Atelier [Open Studio] (1992) and ‘Łaźnia’ [Baths] Contemporary Art Centre (1988), and President of the Wyspa Progress Foundation (from 1994). Founder of the Modelarnia
[Pattern-shop] and Wyspa Art Institute, he runs the establishment together with
Aneta Szylak on the premises of the former Gdańsk Shipyard.

Selected one-man shows:
2005, ‘Praktyki adaptacyjne’ [Adaptive Practices], Galeria Sektor 1, Katowice.

1998, ‘Beckett/
Implantate; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

1997, ‘Hipertrzoda’ [Hyperherd], Galeria
Kronika, Bytom, Poland.

‘Katabasis’, Galeria Biała, Lublin, Poland.

1994, ‘Emblematy’ [Emblems],
Municipal Arsenal Gallery, Poznań, Poland.

Selected group shows:
2005, ‘ViennAfair’,
the International Art Fair’, Messezentrum Wien Neu, Vienna.

2002, ‘Niebezpieczne
związki’ [Dangerous Liaisons], Municipal Art Gallery, Poznań.

2001, ‘In Between. Art in
Poland 1945-2000’, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Ill.

1996, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. Survival. VI Rauma Biennale Balticum, Rauma, Finland.

1988, ‘Realizm radykalny.
Abstrakcja konkretna’ [Radical Realism. Concrete Abstraction], National Museum in Warsaw.

1986, ‘Ekspresja lat 80-ych’ [Expression of the 1980s], bwa, Sopot, Poland.


Mikołaj Smoczyński
(born 1955)

Studies: 1984-85, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

1975–79, Maria Curie Skłodowska University [umcs] in Lublin.

1974–75, State Higher School of Fine Arts in Łódź.

He is currently Professor at the umcs in Lublin.

1980–2004, forty-five one-man shows.

1992, 2nd prize at the European Photography show in Berlin.

1991, Grand Prix of the 5th International Drawing Triennial in Wrocław, Poland.

1990, the Stanisław Wyspiański Prize.


Edyta Wolska
(born 1962)

Studies: Degree from the Art Education Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, additional training in painting in Professor Piotr C. Kowalski’s studio.

Selected one-woman shows:
2007, Muzeum Ziemi Usteckiej, Ustka, Poland.

2001, ‘Moje Archiwum’ [My Archive], Galeria Autorska, Koszalin, Poland.

Group shows:
2007, 7th Multimedia Meetings, Galeria Scena, Koszalin; 2002, ‘Inne światło’ [A Different Light], Museum in Koszalin.

1998, 7th Festival of Contemporary Polish Painting.


Jerzy Wroński
(born 1930)

Studies: 1956, Degree from the Painting Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow.

In their student times, he and his friends launched the Grupa Nowohucka (Group of Nowa Huta [district of Cracow]), starting the trend of peinture de la matière in Cracow. All
its members were later admitted to the Cracow Group Art Association. In 1960 he became also active as an art educator.


Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński


Józef Bury, Grzegorz Klaman, Mikołaj Smoczyński, Edyta Wolska, Jerzy Wroński