Le Guern Gallery, Warsaw

Habitat, National Museum in Szczecin

 „There and Back” is Dorota’s first exhibition after her return from a grant at Svenska Yrkeshogskolan in Nykarleby where she spent four months. “There” can be understood as a specific place – a town in Finland, where some of the presented paintings were created, “back” would than denote Poland, precisely Warsaw, where Dorota settled after her return from Scandinavia and where she finished work on the exhibition. In such a context, the presented works become a travelogue, as well as a journal of “living in a place”. They can be read as diary, where events of the past few months were recorded. Well, they are actually not “events”, because this word suggests the record of extraordinary moments, they are rather encountered views. Dorota shows such scenes from the surrounding world which do not look especially chosen but just appeared before her eyes. All the elements of the world she watches seem equally important. They were important enough to be recorded on subsequent sheets of paper during the journey. Chimneys. A gentleman with the lady in the car. A roadway. Somebody bathing. People waiting at a bus stop. Others, commuting on the train. Cottages. Small clouds in the sky.

The mundane character, in a sense of banality, of the recorded views is very important here. If I call these paintings “a travelogue”, it is not because Dorota recorded some important monuments and eminent people, which in fact might facilitate a reconstruction of the map of her journey. Perhaps she remembers important points but we were not able to recognize where something happened or who is depicted and what he was doing. The people and places presented in these pictures are anonymous for us. We actually do not know if they are from the real world because the artists has many times recorded images spotted on TV screen in the same way. The real intermingles with the medial here.

This feature of Dorota’s painting makes her painterly diary more of the record of her psychological states, rendered in these seemingly low-ranking pictures. With such an approach to creative work, its elements, rather that recognition of particular scenes, become significant. What attracts our attention in the current exhibition is, for example, the absence of a destination in the journey on which we accompany the artist. “There and Back” has been mounted in such a way that the works form a circle, suggesting a movement round a perimeter and a cofnstant returning to the starting point. Moreover, the images placed at the height of the horizon suggest some undefined “over there, far away” which is perpetually escaping us, like the horizon. Thus, the traveling itself seems the most important, or – even – the fact of setting off itself (due to the urge of hitting the road). Leaving the place of one’s current residence is not necessary linked to the will of getting somewhere.

The way the exhibition is mounted is significant because, similar to all of Dorota’s shows, the choice of works is not important, it is their arrangement that is important, too. The works always form a painterly installation in which the artist places particular pictures in her own, pre-arranged space of significance. This facet of her work can be seen as the creation of the visual narrative.

“There and Back” is not only the story of concrete journey. It also evokes the motif of the road in its wider sense. A single journey here shows the experience of changing places in space (not always in a geographical sense, because the changing also embraces inner areas). The reference to the road can be seen as an attempt at the ordering of our perception of the world and giving sense to this perception, as well as to the place in the world which we occupy and to the way in which we function in this world. Showing the course of the road itself and the way of covering it is a metaphor of being in the world.

Agata Jakubowska

text published in catalogue for exhibition in Le Guern Galler