January 9 – August 31, 2021
Equilibrium is about finding the perfect balance—the place where different tonal elements come together to create powerful and dynamic paintings. The suspension and tension of two-dimensional forms exist quite comfortably in Leszek Wyczolkowski’s series of paintings and prints. Simple compositions such as Decisions, in which two partial rings follow each other until, as anticipated, becoming circular; bars or lines are composed, overlap, and flow over the curves. In the painting Nominations, a subtly disconnected arrangement contributes to the sense of movement.
There are several variations on the theme of equilibrium in this exhibition. In these most recent works, the artist strives to establish a balance between a blocky, simple, rectangular mass and more complex, vivid forms suspended above and below, as seen in the largest work, Discussion. The quickening of visual energies between the black and white shapes is what matters here, not some problem with balancing part to part across the surface of the painting. The black shapes, and the white ones, instead insist on their independent spatial equivalency, each wanting to be the figure to the other’s ground, fighting for supremacy in the viewer’s eye.
At first glance, shape and space predominate. The monochromatic paintings appear deceptively uncomplicated; the reduced colour palette and minimal presentation seem to downplay the importance of the artist’s touch. With the extended viewing, these works require, however, they reveal a remarkable subtlety, a quality that stems from Wyczolkowski’s innovative and impassioned approach to painting materials and techniques. In Composure, delicate feathered layers balance the globe or orb. It appears suspended and very still, leaving the viewer in a trance. This airy work has enormous strength, capturing the viewer’s attention.
A column of floating orbs neatly stacked takes us from glowing gold to deep, oceanic blue. Their optically pulsating colours provide structural order and a visual anchor to the individual pieces, focusing our attention on their gradients and transitions. Wyczolkowski does not shy away from colour; we are invited to lean in, the reds in Carnival ranging across multiple hues, amplifying the work’s visual complexity. He has often used a complex layering of mediums, modifying them through dilution or customized admixtures, to achieve the precise surface and optical qualities that characterize his work. Here Wyczolkowski establishes relations between surfaces as complex as those which are defined by curves, using softly blended brushstrokes and hints of colour, as we can see in Progress. There is a quiet layering that is uplifting—almost lyrical. The painting sings through the wispy movement of the brush strokes.
In his print-based works, Wyczolkowski’s familiar geometric abstractions incorporate simplified, organic shapes and detailed techniques, all arranged in embossed squares, with colours that are occasionally echoed in the large paintings. This impulse towards geometric abstraction—including intersecting planes and floating shapes—seems to be Wyczolkowski’s primary interest, continuing the investigation of reductive form and colour so evident in his paintings. A consistency emerges, a focus on process through which negative space becomes an almost indefinable dimension of the work, the dimension against which Wyczolkowski’s forms are suspended and balanced. As the viewer moves from his etchings to his paintings then back again, it is this sense of balance, this equilibrium, that unifies his work. A lot of what, in the etchings, seems like very little— the repetition of the partial ring, for example—is simplified even more in the paintings. Lingering in front of them to take in their luminous, dynamic harmonies is a calm and peaceful experience. As we adjust to their subtlety, Wyczolkowski gives us time to process our newfound tranquility.
Olinda Casimiro | Executive Director