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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 9, 2008
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Poetic Parables
January 9, 2008 By M.H.    
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Piotr Kurka's exhibition Whatever Happens to Us Doesn't Belong to Us Anymore is a kind of a poetic parable told through a series of works on paper and a sculpture entitled The Ice Skater. When he's not sculpting, painting or creating objects, Kurka is a philosopher and cultural critic. During his time with Poznań's Koło Klipsa group (1983-1990), he created spatial arrangements in the spirit of Italy's transavanguardia.

The works now on display at Cracow's Zderzak Gallery are dreamy paintings in which vast, empty spaces are populated by doll-like figures. Duplicity, reflections, aquatic symbols and enormity all typify Kurka's work and they are all in evidence here. Breathing and timelessness are integral parts of the composition. The artist says Zen philosophy has taught him "not to value time too highly," but on the other hand he is interested in "the past that lies beyond the horizon of our own memory, that past which is closest to the epiphany of a child's imagination."

The word "happens" that appears in the title is the key to interpreting the exhibition. "Happens" denotes the two metaphysical notions of accident and gift. Accident implies that a human being is merely a fleeting entity that needs to build its existence on ethical actions and through contemplation. Gift refers to the state of grace which makes all this possible. This momentary state, achieved through enlightenment, cannot be triggered or repeated by an act of will. Nor can we can hang on to it. Our lives, then, are not really ours.

Cracow, Zderzak Gallery, 3 Floriańska St. open through Jan. 26.
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