on focus
from 04.11.2021 to 08.01.2023

Exercises in freedom

Jarosław Kozłowski and Christine Moldrickx

Jarosław Kozłowski (born 1945) and Christine Moldrickx (born 1984) are more than a generation apart. But René Block, from whose collection the works by Kozłowski and Moldrickx are taken, has never judged “his” artists by their age. The former Fluxus gallerist and international curator values art that is close to life, to the everyday. Although this is quite obviously true of the young, Amsterdam-based artist, it also applies, in a different way, to the doyen of Polish conceptual art.

The words “This is not …” are repeated over and over in a work from 1973 in which Kozłowski questions the reality of a black square. It is no coincidence that this negative formula recalls René Magritte’s famous “this is not a pipe”. But when examining linguistic and logical structures in his early work, Kozłowski went far beyond the Belgian Surrealist’s language pictures. Paying tribute to the importance of language in Conceptual art, he became the “grammarian” of this branch of contemporary art. René Block presented the Polish artist as early as 1985, at the DAAD gallery in Berlin, and his museum on the Danish island of Møen recently showed a work from 2005 that now comes to Nuremberg. Fifteen bowls of pigment fixed to the wall, above them pieces of cloth bearing traces of the corresponding colours, as if someone had used them to dry their hands. Assigned to these works are the names of places around the world where massacres have occurred, questioning the innocence of autonomous art, but also its utopian potential: “There will be no Srebrenica,” etc.

“This is not …” could also be said of all three works by Moldrickx. They resemble everyday objects, but without actually being them. The page from Süddeutschen Zeitung newspaper, soiled with bird droppings, lying in a cardboard box, turns out to be a drawing. The pullover, floating in the space on a coat hanger, is not made of fluffy wool. It is a shirt of chainmail, whose title assigns it an absurd purpose: For Weightlessness. Similarly, a sink fixed to the wall has nothing to do with plumbing. Instead, it is a portal to another world, referred to by the artist as a “liminal object”. Might the plughole resemble the outline of a head? Such ambivalences are typical of Moldrickx’s art, appealing to the senses and challenging the intellect in equal measure.