LAZNIA 1 2010 - Joachim Froese, Grzegorz Przyborek, Ken Matsubara THE ARCHETYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Opening 18.06.2010, at 6 p.m
Curator: Krzysztof Jurecki
Assistant Curator: Anna Szynwelska
What makes the three authors: Joachim Froese, Ken Matsubara and Grzegorz Przyborek, who live in different parts of the world, create artworks concerning the state of culture, including symbolic spaces, in a similar artistic manner? Particularly important here is the state of artistic reflection. Finding the answer is not easy, maybe even impossible. Let’s focus on the photographic and philosophical concepts of the respective authors in order to find an answer to the question: what is “archetype of photography” and how to analyse its problem?
Froese – German culture on a new continent
“Since the late 90’s death has been a dominant subject of Joachim Froese’s works – a German born in Canada who emigrated to Australia in 1991. His Rhopography series (1999-2003) presents still lives as tableaux vivants where dead insects and rotting fruits play leading roles instead of people” to quote Gordon Craig. It is easy to ascertain what inspired Froese’s photography – it was mainly 17th century Dutch painting, but also Spanish and Flemish to a smaller extent. In another series it was Italian Renaissance as well. He approaches the photographed object with a great discernment – magnifying and enlarging it, but above all – symbolising it. It can be said that on the subject of still life, though realised in traditional not modernist way, the artist has created new aesthetical and artistic qualities. It was unbelievably difficult, almost impossible to achieve because of the great tradition of this kind of painting. In his work he searches for inner, mental spaces between the old and contemporary times where the subject of death has vanished from the consciousness of the postmodern man. 
Froese’s proposition is very interesting because it shows how fragile and ephemeral physical existence of a human being is. It also refers to the ancient Greek meaning of “rhopos”, a word that stands for “ordinary, trivial things”. How different is our life from the passing existence of animals and insects? One can search for the answer in the next series Written in the Past (2007) in which the artist uses different aesthetics, certainly of far-east connotations, but just like in the other series he doesn’t use mathematic perspective. He presents chosen situations relating to vast memory storage – to his deceased mother and his childhood. Letters, dishes, towels, crosswords are the main characters of the modest artworks. Tranquillity, parallels and the analysis of simple objects or dynamism proving the graveness of the situation dominate in these works. 
This photographer, of German origin who is attached to traditions of Renaissance and Baroque painting is looking for an answer to the question: “What is life, how to describe its tranquillity or contradicting dynamism?” His works are immersed in his private memory as well as in common, archetypical consciousness. 
Matsubara – Japanese formula of oneirism?
Since the 80’s, Ken Matsubara has been interested in staged photography which at the beginning had qualities characteristic for drawing and painting (Vertical and Horizontal, 1993). At first he analysed or even played with the rules of perspective, revealing its anachronisms or simply illusory facets. His artworks bearing installation features, in which he used glass dishes filled with water, continued to tackle this problem. 
As time passed by his art was becoming more and more photographic (Sleepwalker, 2006) with surrealistic references that could be associated with Grzegorz Przyborek’s works. Dreams constitutes an important matter for Grzegorz. Matsubara is consciously inspired by him when trying to explain current events concerning his private life, including memories and obsessions. He searches for a metaphysical symbol designed to draw artistic and personal paths of future life. The photographs make an impression of motionless objects against a white background. Just like in Zen philosophy or sleepwalking, they show that the impossible turns real or is on the verge of the so-called irrational world. The photographs, devoid of perspective vision are very sophisticated; they present for instance a circle of fire or a glass of water falling apart. These realisations of specific aesthetics are difficult to interpret since they are based on a narrative similar to that characteristic of films, which brings to mind Zdzisław Beksiński’s works from the 50’s. 
Ken Matsubara utilised a more palpable artistic code in his The Knife in the Water series, which was obviously devoted to the famous film by Roman Polanski and is to be treated as a tribute to the artist. 
Przyborek – Mediterranean myths in the shape of “staged photography”
The photographic activity of Grzegorz Przyborek refers to a broader spectre of media possibilities. The ones currently used by the artist join various disciples and techniques by the means of photographic record. Although the attitude he has had since the 80’s is rare in contemporary Polish inter-media sphere. Its most important features are the potential of sculptural thinking and the possibilities given by drawing, which is being taking advantage of.
As far as the formal aspects are concerned, his artistic activity is connected with the category of “staged photography”. However it is necessary to point out that its idea is located in a different position since it is devoid of the aspect of nihilism and it does not attack the basic values of humanism, which are often bound to this kind of photography. Quite on the contrary, in his latest series Cantus Lamentus (2010) the artist refers e.g. to the ideas of Sandy Skoglund, who represents the most important stage photographers in the USA. In this case, Przyborek emphasises the importance of dream sleep, which constitutes one of the basic references and meanings for him. 
In his exhibitions, Przyborek presents photographs, drawings and sculptures utilised during creating the complicated compositions, for which the ultimate stage is a photograph. Mediterranean myths come to life – they concern elemental philosophical questions relating mainly to good and evil (Madonna, Pilgrim, Creator, Demon). Various props – being placed or situated properly – refer to famous works of art, notions and cultural stereotypes. 
Archetype of photography
Strange as it may seem but in a positive sense the works of the three artists: Joachim Froese, Ken Matsubara and Grzegorz Przyborek have been created in a similar style for years. That style being rooted in an approximate spiritual construction and with estimation for classical art coming from a humanistic approach. Such artistic activity emphasising reflection upon death is based on punctum category in the sense of accustoming to it. Just like in the notion of Roland Barthes (La Chambre claire: note sur la photographie) it can be described with a term “archetype of photography”. 
Their style is not subject to any passing artistic fad, although one can distinguish surrealism or conceptualism inspirations. In the case of Matsubara, Przyborek and even Froese, they are expressed by the staged formula. 
By diminishing the importance of mathematic perspective they make it subject to their extremely introvert vision in which they diagnose the state of mind and spirituality of the turn of the 20th and 21st century, searching for unalterable and constant values by means of dream sphere. 
Joachim Froese
Born in 1963 in Montreal, Canada. In the years1965-1991 he lived in Germany and since 1991 in Brisbane, Australia. He studied at the Tasmanian School of Art at Launceston, University of Tasmania (1995, bachelor’s degree) and Queensland Collage of the Arts, Griffith University Brisbane (master’s degree). He gives lectures on photography at the Queensland Collage of Arts, Griffith University Brisbane. He started his artistic endeavours with the cycle Terra Nullius (1993), in which the photographs of Tasmania were combined with smaller parts of shots from Berlin from the period before the reunification of Germany in 1989. Later on, he created more conceptual cycles (Contactproofs, 1995), to obtain an interesting style of “staged photography”, inspired by 17th century Dutch paintings, particularly the “still life” motif (Rhopography, 1999-2001 and 2002-03). The cycle evokes the old Greek word “rhopos”, meaning trivial, small objects. The work Portrait of my Mother (2006) is more modern and simpler in its conceptual form and expression. It consists of 93 pictures connected in a form of a rolled photograph (29m), showing the bookshelves that played a very important role in the woman’s life. Another cycle, Written in the Past (2007) is the essence of reflections devoted to the memories of the deceased mother and his own childhood. This work is imbued with the volatile ambiance and aesthetics of the Far East. His works can be found in collections such as: Neue Galerie Dachau, Germany, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Australia.
Ken Matsubara
Born in 1949 in Tokyo. In 1973 he graduated from Musashino Art University in Tokyo. In the years 1983-87 he lived in New York. He is active in the area of photography and installation. In the 1980’s he created an original concept of “staged photography” (coloured photography) This emphasised the immateriality, elusiveness and ambiguity of presented forms (Polaroid Spectra, 1987). He emphasised references to Surrealism and object with minimal-art elements. During the exhibition Recent Works (1993, Art Site) he enhanced the impact of constructed objects having traditionally geometric or symbolic forms (a ladder or stairs) by presenting them in contrast with expressively painted backgrounds. He stressed the illusion of perspective composition and gold colour of “heavenly” objects, which was presented in his earlier exhibition Vertical and Horizontal (PS Gallery, Tokyo, 1990). In 2005, Ma 2 Gallery in Tokyo held an exhibition Sleepwalker, inspired by a psychoanalytic interpretation of Gaston Bachelard (Poetics of a Dream). The exhibition raised the issues of children’s dreams and ever present memories from the Second World War (Strange Cloud). It was an exhibition on the verge of the world and surrealistic vision, with its oriental sensations in beautifully arranged end exceptionally suggestive visions. The works are present in the collections of such institutions as: International Polaroid Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Goldman Sachs Corporation, New York
Grzegorz Przyborek
Born in 1948 in Łódź. He creates photography, drawings, sculptures (objects) and installations. He also specialises in theory of photography. He is one of the most prominent Polish artists and professors of photography from the 80’s till today. 
He graduated from PWSSP (The State Higher School of Visual Arts) in Łódź (in 1996 renamed to Academy of Fine Arts). He obtained his masters degree in 1974. Since 1976 he has worked at PWSSP in Łódź. In 1994 he was given the title of professor. He teaches at The Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and in PWSFTviT in Łódź. In the mid 80’s he developed the creation of staged photography and sculptural objects, which he also used in photography but treated them in a autonomic way. In the 90’s the style of Grzegorz Przyborek has altered, although it expanded his previous achievements from the mid 80’s. Many photographs evoked surrealistic inspirations. A year scholarship at The School of Photography in Arles, granted by the French government in 1990, had a big influence on his works of that period. The artist paid attention to the very technique of photography that, in his case, is a complicated arrangement. Hotel Europa series was the most personal interpretation of current political events and his testimony of faith in the possibility of spiritual salvation of art and the world. In 1996 he created Thanatos (in black & white and colour versions). It pictured the sign of death by the means of 3-dimensional sculptures exhibited together with photographs. The death appeared in both male and female forms with more or less demonic mannequins. Since the late 90’s he has practiced computer graphics in which he continues to develop his photographic experience concerning the problem of image reality and dehumanization. 
His works can be found in the collections such as: Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, National Museum in Wrocław, Muzeum Ziemi Lubuskiej, Zielona Góra, Stadtmuseum Gross-Gerau, Geremany, Collectiones des Artotheques "Photographie d'Auteur", Lyon, France, Broncolor, Switzerland, Radici-Group, Bergamo, Italy, Fond National d'Art Contemporain (FNAC), France
18 JUNE AT 7 PM 
20 AUGUST AT 6– 9 PM
Municipal Institution of Culture