The immediate inspiration for the project was the brain cell, or – more precisely – the recent scientific discovery that the structure of the brain cell, under magnification to a level that was previously not possible, resembles the Universe.
“If the brain cell resembles the Universe, it is easy to imagine that the entire Universe constitutes merely of one single cell of a larger, incomprehensible being. This idea is as striking as it is dangerous, nonetheless it allows us to exceed limits when it comes to scale. Does scaling have any limits whatsoever?”, asks Ostrowski.
Perspective of the fine arts, he defines this as a disorder, a thicket, immensity – everything that leads to consolidation, accumulation and ultimately chaos, which he also observes in human beings.
Three triptychs comprised of colored lithographs depict pulsating networks of biological and mechanical structures which constantly interact with each other, giving the impression that one piece of matter smoothly transforms itself into another and – like a returning wave – shows a reflected image of the original piece on its surface.
Having crafted in glass for the past 20 years, the artist decided to use lithography as a technique which could add a new dimension to larger compositions – a technique which can be somehow sketchy, introductory, guiding.
It is important for this technique to be based on similar methods of creating images. It should make possible expressive, painterly compositions of spots and rhythms on lithographic stones, and the use of paint intended to dilute colors and reduce their opacity should allow colors to be combined as they are in glass. Ostrowski juxtaposes extremes: abstraction and clear representation, chaos and order, organic forms and geometry, light and shadow. In glass he is inspired by Caravaggio – a “painter of the constant struggle with light and shadow” who has always fascinated him.
Piotr Ostrowski’s exhibition „traces” is an experiment based on an examination of various possibilities in artistic expression. Artist’s use of glass as a material is innovative and daring.
His works seem to reflect the ephemeral nature of time, as though its changing nature is imprinted in them. Yet, the interactive process of working with such material does not end with its presentation. The material that constitutes his works remains under stress, and so the risk of damage, spontaneous rupture or breakage is its inherent feature.
The exhibition addresses the challenge of fixing fleeting traces, and their short — lived nature in such fragile and delicate a material as glass. The result is a series of monumental works whose bold structure and innovative presentation style allow for a new quality in communing with glass. The imprints used in them are tangible consequences of movement and of striving; they are what remains after and an event and its presence. They are not relics of the past or reflections of history; they are phenomena present in our everyday environment and everyday life that often go unnoticed, or are ignored because of their ephemeral nature. In fact, these signs become blurred so quickly that they disappear without trace in a wink of time.
In Piotr Ostrowski’s works, time appears to be arrested. Technically elaborate artifacts enable the viewer to experience both the here and now as well as the then and there. The glass forms become a magnifying glass through which movements and events, usually imperceptible, manifest visibly. The overlapping rhythms of signs of human presence on the one hand, and of a subtle echo of fleeting phenomena on the other, form polyphony of space-time voices.
An interesting aspect of the project is the idea that fixing a fleeting sign overlaps with the very process of creation. Time — consuming experiments with glass and striving with the characteristic brittleness of the material visibly affects the way in which the fleeting, the ephemeral is fixed.
The transparent and conjuring character of the material inspires a thought — provoking encounter with reality. It builds a space made up of silence and contemplation; a place of meditation on impermanence, and a transience of time.
Traces is a meeting with a different outlook on glass as a material for artistic expression, combined with noble consonance of substance, light, space and colour.
Piotr Ostrowski, a sculptor and an author of stained glass windows and glass installations, this time managed to build a space of alluded events, transient traces of presence, movement and time, utilizing transparency of his material and masterly achieved colours (deep black, which is encountered in glass very rarely and flickering transparency of red). Abstraction seems to sharpen the reality; it enables perception of this which, in the real world of everyday life, is little visible.
The author is a sculptor; therefore, it is understandable that he has control of the space; however, this time he is dealing with several different types of spaces: external one, which ceases to be in opposition to the internal one, enclosed in a see-through form, with the space delimited by the shield created by the black colour, with mutual reflections of forms.
Immense precision with which all parts of the installation located in several premises were designed and executed results in the fact that the viewer ceases to notice its individual elements and registers the entirety. Walking from one part to the other, from climate to climate, viewers start to become subjected to the illusion which is a feature of painting, but happens rarely with respect to contact with tangible objects. This is an exceptional exhibition that is a must – see.
Traces by Piotr Ostrowski constitute fragile proofs of presence, sunk in glass. But – first of all – this is a completely different look on the traditional material and its potential.
We are entering a different world, which is at the border of the real and the ephemeral. Piotr Ostrowski, a sculptor and an author of stained glass windows and glass installations, a co – author of the design for the terminal in Balice or the European Centre of Solidarity in Gdańsk, built an exhibition out of transparency. And he provided it with a possibility of storage of individual moments. He enclosed in it a space of events, fleeting traces of presence and time. It is a paradox that we are trying to find stability and stop the transitoriness in the fragile material.
This is reality running away towards abstraction, with all the accompanying consequences. However, it is most important that this non-obviousness of forms, the entire geometricity and absence of explicitness only serves exaggeration of reality, perception of this, which escapes us and which ceases to be visible in the mundane whirlpool of events. These are beautifully held moments. We stand still, focused, concentrated on the glass. In the intermingling sheets, so much is happening…
The artist relies on light and glass. And this is sufficient, because he managed to create an aesthetically seductive installation. This installation creates its own world, an enclave of meanings, hermitage where reflection resides. This will probably be most appreciated by people who are far away from the world of art. They will simply find a friendly space which is pleasant to look at.
But there are even more reasons to visit “Traces.” From the moment of entry, out attention is attracted by colours, which seem to be untypical to people who are used to glass and what artists tend to do with it. The intensity of black and its depth is simply striking. Further, we have ambiguous greys – cool, elusive, melting in the space. And finally, there is red. Strong, intense and luscious.
The variety of forms softly becomes the wholeness. It is difficult to build an installation, separated by several rooms, all of which become, in the course of time, elements excellently inscribed in the museum territory. With every step, from the moment of entering the exhibition, we feel how the individual elements influence one another, melt in one another, start a dialogue in the space. Glass fragments, by their transparency, become melted so that they can become united once again. We are inside a work of art. We can see how everything takes place between light and shadow, retained in sheets of glass.
Ostrowski manages to play with space with masterly precision. It is difficult because when one thinks about a sculpture or an installation, one is dealing not only with the environment, but – which is typical for transparent materials – with the interior. Usually, such works are at the border of these two territories. This tension provides them with sense. The opposition mentioned here is invalidated. Instead of it, we have a smooth transfer between the exterior and the space inside, enclosed in a transparent form. And it seems that thinking about three -imensionality was important here. Apart from the obvious external – internal line, there is also the space enclosed by blackness and the space created by mutual reflections of forms. People who are sensitive to art (and to sculpture in particular) will definitely be able to appreciate it.
It is difficult to clearly delimit the author’s range of interests and meanings which were intended to become a share of the public visiting the exhibition. All traces suggested here do not exhaust the catalogue of possible views and interpretations. And this seems to be the most valuable aspect of this exhibition!