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Galeria Starmach

Janusz Orbitowski (1940-2017)

2020-03-10 - 2020-04-24


Janusz Orbitowski (1940-2017)

10 March – 19 June 2020

opening: 10 March 2020 at 18:00

curator: Sonia Kądziołka

White allows the object to sound. White, like no other, emphasizes or brings out the form, almost describes the shape of the existing object, sometimes even overtakes it. This seems particularly important in the work of Janusz Orbitowski, for which the whiteness of a relief is one of the more recognizable signs.

The structures themselves could take various forms, but it was the whiteness that emphasized the multitude of constructed shapes. Staggered systems, structures composed of many, small, elementary particles that overlap, grow from one another, multiply in our eyes (almost in front of our eyes) like independent organisms. The artist himself said: 'All my works have an element of organicity' 1. This whiteness, in which individual geometrical forms are embedded, determines their order, but it could also give the impression of sterility. However, the artist did not stop there: in a way difficult to predict, he breaks down rows, systems, schemes, builds tension and drama by introducing gaps or between-places, enhances the impression of the organism's growth.

'White ontology is difficult. Difficult, complicated and far from unambiguous. White asks questions, puts you in anxiety"2, Dariusz Czaja stated in 'Grammar of White. Anthropology of Limit Experiences'. The researcher cited Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'Remarks on Colour' and pointed out that white occupies the most space in his considerations. Czaja even said that 'it almost looks like an obsession. White apparently does not give him peace of mind, it becomes - and from the first notes - a serious intellectual challenge'3. The anthropologist claimed that according to Wittgenstein the whiteness was contained in statements so vague that almost seeking contradictions, he mentioned 'the peculiar cosmos', whiteness may be opaque, but it is not its attribute, it dominates over other colors, deprives other colors of power, and at the same time otherness is so visible that you have to ask yourself the question: is it a color at all? 4


The exhibition features works from very different periods of Orbitowski's work, representing many areas that interested the artist. Repeatability of systems, consistency in exploring the issue of motion, the problem of light and space. Dominants are series of monochromatic reliefs: they are expressive, organic, reminiscent of plants 5, approximate and instrumented details, lyrical, delicate sequences of thin, almost fragile, lines that make the image appear almost flat from a distance. Finally, recessed structures: they are collapsing, falling apart and folding forms afresh. Straight parallel lines give the impression of vibrating, almost unstable ones due to their heterogeneous length.


Orbitowski's works are not free from symbolism in general, sometimes the forms do not exist by themselves, one should just look at the painting called 'Self-portrait' by the artist where the circular form was juxtaposed with a system of rectangles of equal size.

The white reliefs contrast with the artist's hitherto unseen and therefore less-known early works: still lifes, compositions based on the motif of the circle and a work painted during his studies: unique figurative paintings in Orbitowski's work. These early canvases are an important factor complementing the concept of the exhibition, becoming a testament to the consistency in the painter's searching, aspirations to study space and study tensions inside and outside of the image field. In the second room, next to a group of small reliefs, on the neighboring walls, there is a scale model of the installation and a photograph showing the finished work itself from 2005 - this one moment when the white relief becomes a monumental form, completely appropriating the space.

1. Rozmowa z Januszem Orbitowskim, in: Janusz Orbitowski, ed. Andrzej Szczepaniak, Kraków 2005, exhibition catalog.

2. Dariusz Czaja, Gramatyka bieli. W pogoni za wielorybem, in: Idem, Gramatyka bieli. Antropologia doświadczeń granicznych, Kraków 2018, p. 228.

3. Ibidem

4. Ibidem, pp. 228-230.

5. About inspiration of nature there is a part of an essay written by Bożena Kowalska:

Bożena Kowalska, Janusz Orbitowski. Teraz, http://www.artemis.art.pl/janusz-orbitowski-teraz-.html, access: 25.02.2020.)

Translation: Robert Domżalski