IDENTITY OF PLACE

Janusz Plota. A restless artist in a constant search. Seeking the truth within himself while feeling a need to systematize, understand and give a name, to conquer and tame the space around him. His attitude towards himself and the surrounding world, a relationship full of contradictions, tension and disquiet, of difficult options, but also with some moments of calmness and harmony, flashes of understanding and of “embracing the whole” – can be seen clearly in his artistic work. The multimediality of his works goes together with his painting, more traditional one although being subject to constant fluctuations – depending frequently on his non-painting activity which has to do with the programme he has adopted at the given stage of his work.

In his painting, after a period of hot browns, reds and asphalts with a strong brushwork, and first of all a great number of signs, a tangle of humans and animals (often fragmentary), a time of calmness has come to him both at the formal and pictorial level. Into his colour palette are introducing themselves increasingly colder hues indicating a distance from the world outside and his own emotions.

The sole presence of cool greys and blues goes together with Plota’s departure from his previous “horror vacui”, with the less striking now multiplicity of forms, all this being replaced by a clear organization of the canvas, by calmness, and by an expression by means of a few signs of a content that used to be bursting out of the frame. These signs-symbols did appear in his earlier works too, but now they are free of a thickness of lines and patches, they speak more clearly and distinctly-directly as it were – but never saying all. Indeed Plota is a master of understatement. Following the direction indicated by him we come across pieces of coded information, while Plota’s sign idiom tends to suggest rather than to explain and leaves a margin of mystery for the searching viewer. Using some objects, being signs or symbols he recalls, like the Proustian magdeleine, the atmosphere of places and times which after leaving always remain somehow on the plate of our memory. His need and aim appears to be a systematic picture of memories, feelings, experiences which he converts into a logical course of events, presenting their sum, a synthesis captured in a frame. The repeated putting of paint, painting over, as well as an inclusion of fragments of previous works or other elements such as fragments of a calendar – produces a symbolic heaping up, an intentional production of a multi-layer work suggesting as it were the uncovering of layers of earth by the archaeologists.

With Plota’s specific language, ways of figurating, his code of lines, his signs (meanders, triangles, ziggurants, pyramids) borrowed from cult symbolism or ancient architecture, he gets the effect of a collage and then creates the objects in which these trends intermingle as they do in the medieval polychromy or in the baroque illusionism. Plota creates objects made up of small things of daily use, and by painting them over and gilding he turns them into objects of art. He is engaged in a subtle play blurring the border between painting and objects, the latter always placed in a concrete space and time.

The painting language of Plota, kinds of pictograms, is linked to his non-painting activities. The same climate of poetry remains in them. For him this line of his art, less visible to many because of its ilusiveness, is probably more important that his painting. By the way, in his traditional activities we could see a wish to get out of the arrangement: canvas – frame.

His efforts to achieve a combination of various branches of art can be seen in the work: “Column1000 – Arche 2000, The Discovered Art”. This is an attempt to get a city record. Column is an element of architecture used by man for ages, an element being part of the structure and also giving a building its look.

The anonymous column is for Plota the starting material which, having been covered with his pictographic code, gets a feature of individuality. It becomes a complete work in which the ancient is allied to the new.

Being an archaic construction organizing space around man it is something of a symbol of the origins of human civilization, independent of mother-nature although coexisting with it.

So Plota’s  researches deal with the dilemmas concerning the relations between culture and nature, which the combination of man’s work and the processes in nature. He places his interest in art, in locations apparently inaccessible because of the passage of time, but now the archaeologists bring them back to us. Plota draws also on his own experiences, without giving up the universal achievements of culture he seeks his own identity, his own place, marked by a sum of his experiences.

His early attempt to leave traditional painting produced his tapestry “Pocałuny” with a sketchy abstract compositions.

In his further non-pictorial efforts Plota tried to get into man’s inside, but outside time and space, the categories from which mankind, although being a priori attached to them, tries to escape sometimes. Installations, space objects with the use of X ray photos are perhaps an attempt to put into a code human existence with its whole complexity, an attempt to find man in the non-real space, a metaphysical one, being beyond here and now. But at the same time there is a search for invariable, steady values. The X ray pictures together with performance actions made up the show at the EL Gallery in Elbląg.

An installation of X ray pictures was also held at the exhibition ”The Bible in Art” at the National Museum in Gdańsk.

Janusz Plota is the creator of the Transit Art idea. It was inspired by the media and mass culture, a spreading danger breaking frontiers and barriers between people. But by functioning at many places on earth, by its similarities it brings understanding between people in the field of art.

In Janusz Plota’s work, as in his private life, one feels the need for concrete reality, but a reality rooted in tradition of the cultural context with all its variety and multiplicity. By solving the problems, by conducting a dialogue with himself he arrives gradually at the complex identity of time and space in which it is his destiny to live.

Magdalena Olszewska