‘Becoming is being, multiplicity is unity, chance is necessity.’
– Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 2006.
In the introduction to their 2011 article titled ‘Processing Process: The Event of Making Art’, Jack Richardson and Sydney Walker describe art-making as ‘an event of movement through relationships between all things and people as they come into contact’. Art is understood here in Deleuzian terms as a process-event: an action that occurs over time and contains within in it the essence of its conditions of becoming. According to this position, an artwork is not a spatio-temporal end-game (the object), but is seen instead as an embodiment, or byproduct, of its process. Art is therefore defined as a manifestation of the human relationship to ideas. The art-viewer’s experience in this context is one of sensation – a moment from which it is possible to gather a sense of what the artist was feeling and thinking throughout the act of creation.
With these thoughts in mind we turn to the exhibition Fluidity: Actual Entities & Occasions of Experience by Toronto-based multi-media artist Andrzej Tarasiuk. For his first solo exhibition Tarasiuk will showcase twelve abstract-representational watercolour works on paper, (each 5′ x 15′), displayed as free-standing sculptural installations. Through their relatively large scale, free-form S-curve shape, and unified compositions, the works convey a palpable sense of energy and flow, embodying the artist’s long-held fascination with materials, metaphysics and the spiritual realm. Tarasiuk’s approach to fabrication is hands-on and process-based, combining observation, experimentation, and play with careful attention to detail. The work is fresh and optimistic, freely sourcing from both the tangible world and stream-of-consciousness thinking, while striving to maintain a balance between intentionality and intuition. Intuition in fact, is used by Tarasiuk as a tool: a method for enabling himself to let go of control and perform instead as a medium through which to transfer energy and experience in unforeseen and enlightened ways.
By treating the concept of fluidity as an aesthetic that can be frozen and manipulated at the artist’s will, the works in this exhibition continue Tarasiuk’s investigation into a re-centralization of the existential. The nature of existence is addressed head-on and reality is treated as an inherently dynamic and ever-expanding process. The works embrace contradiction and ambiguity, both in their own multi-modality (activating the gallery space as both painting and sculpture at once) and in the way their content actually speaks to an outright rejection of physicality. By representing a perpetual redefining of both itself and the space it occupies, the repeated use of the water motif functions as a perfect metaphor for life in a constant state of flux. As viewers, we are invited to navigate our way around each piece and enjoy the way that our perception changes as our position does. This viewing experience challenges the common perception that there is a separation between objects and the energy that surrounds them. The works ask us to consider our mind’s insistence on viewing reality as a static state.
Born in 1980 in the city of Gdynia, Poland, Tarasiuk spent his childhood on the Baltic sea engaged in free-play amidst many still-unearthed remnants of WWII. In keeping with his own personal history Tarasiuk has seamlessly integrated political commentary into each of his pieces. Upon close inspection, viewers will notice that each composition includes strategically placed and carefully disguised silhouettes of children at play from all corners of the globe – including those whose everyday lives are embroiled in circumstances of injustice, poverty and war. These figures function as a tangible representation of hope, while simultaneously embodying an acute sense of adaptation and a letting go in the face of adversity. In their abstraction and merging into the rivers of flowing shapes and colours, the figures occupy only the negative spaces, appearing as Zen-like impressions of the human condition. Like echoes or ripples of reality, they paradoxically deny a human-imposed structure on the world by inherently rejecting the illusion of their own physical state.
Tarasiuk’s sensitivity toward both his subjects and his materials is matched only by his clear and close attention to the experience of the viewer. The work is immersive, thought-provoking and pleasing to the eye. Keeping in mind the principle that energy cannot be contained, created, or destroyed, Tarasiuk’s work refuses to limit itself to an existence predetermined by physical boundaries. Instead, it communicates a unity in everything that defies the destructive tendencies of unchecked anthropocentrism. It conveys an empathy for the natural world and a longing for a return to peace and harmony between humans and nature. Specifically, Tarasiuk problematizes the human connection to the earth as one that is too-often violent despite its potential to be full of grace. Never resting in the negative for long, the work also conveys a deep romance connected to art-making. The visible brush strokes, tactile nature of the water-treated paper, and the human-scale of the paintings themselves, all convey a vision of the artist working tirelessly alone in the studio as as an empowering act for remaining humble and aware. Art is viewed by Tarasiuk as a way to decentralize the human experience by pointing towards a greater and far more significant energy flow that runs through us all. In this way the artist’s role is that of a vehicle for the transmission of experience; striving to represent spirit through substance.
As a whole, the works in Fluidity: Actual Entities & Occasions of Experience operate under that conditions of a trajectory. With a practice that includes drawing, painting, sculpture, performance and installation, Tarasiuk has always maintained a unity in his use of fluidity as a metaphor for representing the unrepresentable. A practice that is aware of itself as a trajectory will understand that each physical manifestation of an idea is but one event on a long line of processes. Under this approach there are no foregone conclusions, only opportunities for indulging our curiosities and encouraging contemplation. If he has it his way, Tarasiuk will cause us to embrace the inevitability of not-knowing so that we can begin to understand that the only unyielding structure in this universe is that which is perceived from within the confines of the human mind.
words by: Alex Bowron