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'Aftersculptures' series of paintings
110 x170 cm
120 x150 cm
Exhibited at Beacon in Munich in collaboration with eastcontemporary,
accompanying poem by Agnes Gryczkowska
At the level of remains
Isabelle Andriessen and Aleksandra Sidor
24 June – 6 August 2022
I call thee. Come forth and follow the celebration of the proceeding rite.
Come forth and follow to the level below. To the level of remains.
Remains whose patterns and shapes have bespoken the myths of human, Sun and Earth.
Whose patters and shapes have composed stories of unstable bodies, grotesque limbs, crystalline landscapes and toxic liquids – mutating from sculpture to painting, and from sculpture to performance; morphing… trembling in abject terror.
Come forth, to the level of remains.
Within liminality’s border we dance.
Hand in hand. Limb in Limb.
Where the bones and skins of the un-dead lie to parch up.
Where by the extension to the study of alchemies and anatomies, the quintessence of trauma may be understood.
Where a curse and grief are locked into three canvases.
Where the Three Shades or the souls of the damned have been lifted from the Gates of Hell.
Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Watch the opulent tribulations of bodies being disfigured and wretched creatures being filled with the venom of life itself.
Hear the slow cracking of the ceramic skin and the melancholic, heatless burning of the red sun.
Let it move you and excite you.
Dance under the Stalactites sky and the blood moons.
Come forth and follow to the level of remains, through the forbidden depths of darkness hidden within.
A vial of Iron II sulphate is poured by Andriessen into one creature.
A vial of nickel sulphate is poured into the other two.
…and the meaning collapses.
The ritual begins. Inanimate becomes animated. The ruins have quivered. The gods of the fossils of the future have spoken.
Dead, yet sensing the slow burning pleasure and torment of a new outer life inside and beyond the threshold of their ceramic vessels, Tidal Spill and Cryo-rite begin a new cycle of existence.
Dreaming the life-that-is-not, they are sweating, leaking and oozing to the rhythm of dark and rich tribal drumming and mantra-like chanting.
In Tidal Spill, bones or limbs ridden by a mysterious ‘Kindred Disease’¹ as they are resting within a nuclear exclusion zone-like terrain.
Cryo-rite is hanging on the wall like Gothic wall sconces – it begins to sparkle, darkly, with sulphur neon blue of the apocalypse.
There is no system to their resurrection. No script per se. Pure entropy – guided by the environmental factors. The anti-systemic disorder is finger pointing and laughing demonically at the terrors of the structured, institutionalised and centralised forms of thought and behaviour. The fluorescent toxicity of green and blue is crying desperately at the horrors of the poisoned Earth. A divine punishment and a manmade disaster.
The debris; the contamination; the trauma; the decay; the crystallising; the notion of finitude are as appalling, as they are romantic, since they carry a transformative potential – the faint hopefulness of Endism. At the level of remains…
At the level of remains… Sidor looks at the tortured pose and the exaggerated slope of the heads of Rodin’s Three Shades. And she goes inside it, she pulls it outside of itself, and pushes it back to the inside again as the sculpture morphs into paintings. A hand grabs a neck – violently, an arm wrestles a thigh – tensely, a spine stretches itself – painfully, a nipple kisses the sun – softly, a head like a hole, severs itself – gently.
The anatomical distortions capture the uncanniness and the torment of a curse, grief, trauma and depression. The flames of the sun are not lit, they do not heat, they do not nurture. The sun is dead. It is melancholic. It is a cosmic element symbolic of a state of post-traumatic sadness – it is so close, yet so far away.
The bodies are tormented and distorted by some higher powers, as they are being lit and burnt by sorrow. The figures – the melancholics suffer from ‘symbolic collapse’ – as Kristeva would have it – ‘a slowing down of linguistic activity and a feeling of meaninglessness and despair’. The sadness and grotesqueness of their abject ridden, apocalyptic bodies however, somehow, carries layers of intimate warmth.
Their embraces are close, perhaps even erotic. The uncanniness of the thin veil between eroticism, violence and death seeps from the canvases. The apocalyptic, agonising bodies are perhaps a precondition of painlessness.
At the level of remains, the universe is oozing abject. Andriessen and Sidor create a liminal zone where bodies and creatures embrace the mortal sickness, trauma, decay, repulsion and deformation; as they are performing a rite towards a kind of immortal purification. We are disgusted, yet we want to keep looking as within their, suddenly too familiar, wrenching, lies their transformative power. It is a zone for communal suffering. And its darkness is thrilling. Come forth and follow to the level below. To the level of remains.
In wretched-ness we dance. Hand in hand. Limb in Limb.
¹ referencing Zaliva-D’s song called ‘Kindred Disease’
Group 3, oil on canvas, 110 x 110 cm
Group 1, oil on canvas, 180 x 110 cm
Exhibited at eastcontemprorary in Milan,
accompanying curatorial text by Nina Mdivani
21/09 – 05/11/2022
Aleksandra Sidor resides in a small town by the Polish-Ukrainian border, painting in a shed of her family house. Her story begins in this familial space that she left for study in UK and to which she has recently returned. Yet, her loose figures elongated, stretched by realities imagined by the artist tell many other, far more sinister and ambivalent tales. Questions about a narrator, their reliability, the power in choosing points of view when telling a story is of great importance to Sidor. Works in this exhibition are centered around two stories, they are strangely linked as both are tied to the complexity of human nature. Story of “The blind men and the elephant” – a parable from India – is as old as human species. Blind men touch a thing that could be anything from resin to human flesh, they lack a system of coordinates to place their perception. They think they know what they feel, but in fact their knowledge is limited and illusory. As Sidor’s audience we are likewise perplexed as to what exactly is in front of us. The artist feels the same bewilderment and goes back to her art for her responses, rather than the other way around. Her process directs the scene, what we see is indeed her metaphoric unknowable beast that she attempts to conjure. For some of her works Sidor uses so called skin suit as a model. It reminds of a skinned human, removed from any trace of life, an object without past or future. It is likely that Jack Unterweger, an infamous Austrian serial killer whose life trajectory fascinated Sidor for quite some time, could have been indeed excited by this removed flesh. Unterweger, a darling of Austrian intellectual elite was first a murderer, later ‘reformed’ becoming a popular author of children’s fairy tales written during his jail time. Yet, after writing these tales and release from prison Unterweger continued to strangle women until eventually convicted in 1994. In this story Austrian society became a collection of blind men touching an elephant, deluding itself to know the whole story. An unfortunate and tragic illusion not so different from 2022 as we fail to fully understand larger historical processes taking place as we live. For Sidor trauma of one’s early experiences is intertwined with the larger context of painful Eastern European conflicts and politics of identity. Scars of the two world wars and the Soviet occupation run deep in this part of the world, almost every family has been affected by it in one way or another. Yet, Sidor embodies both her Polish identity as well as her western European experiences and training. Her aesthetics are deeply influenced by somber visions of Lars von Trier, but also are by the emotional charges of Paula Rego and Francis Bacon, absurdity of Francisco Goya, darkness of Paul Celan. As them, Sidor is unafraid to deeply look at the human nature and face multiple possibilities for interpretation. For her these potentialities are not perplexing, but rather sustaining. As an artist she is looking for her truth through her process. Not fully aligned with European poststructuralism Sidor is in search of more encompassing reality, allowing her viewers to pick up elements of her ontology, examine them and put back together. Parables become visual and conceptual devices meant to lead the way.
Partly, oil on canvas, 150x150 cm, 2023
Useful organs, oil on canvas, 150 x 120 cm, 2023
Flashback , oil on canvas, 210 x 140 cm, 2023
Fading , oil on canvas, 200 x 160 cm, 2023
Midday breakdown in a public space, oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm, 2022
Itchy, oil on canvas, 80 x 70 cm, 2022
Tempting Saint Sebastian: oil paint on panel, 33.5x24 inch, 2021
Breastfeeding a grown man in heaven, oil on canvas, 39x39 inch, 2021
Mother Figure, oil paint on canvas, 2020
first painting: 8x8 inch
second painting: 12x10 inch