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SILENCE AND CONCENTRATION OF ZIACH, by: Jan Bart Klaster,
HET PAROOL, newspaper, The Netherlands, 25 mei 1994
Photography has gradually gained its own, full-fledged place in the arts in the Netherlands. Indeed, on several locations there are now more or less fully-developed institutes where the phenomenon of the photograph is protected and shown to the public. The Nederlands Foto Instituut opened recently in Rotterdam, where the emphasis is chiefly on documentary and journalistic photography (until the 6th of June 1994 there is an exhibition on view with work of Leo Erken, Gilles Peress and Paul Raes).In Sittard, Limburg, the Nederlands Fotomuseum has been established a bit longer in Het Domein and centres its attention on “photography as an art form”.
Krystyna Ziach (1953), a Polish artist residing in Amsterdam, enforces the objectives of this museum with a retrospective of autonomous photoworks and installations.
Ziach is originally a sculptor and an art historian. Once in the Netherlands, in 1979, she switched to photography without, however, getting out of touch with her roots in sculpture. Ziach largely uses her own photo archive to make works that are often monumental and weighty in both senses of the word. Sometimes she investigates space with constructions in which mirrors or reflections are often incorporated. Initially Krystyna Ziach served as her own model, using herself to examine the expressive, decorative and emotional possibilities of the body. To this effect she painted her body parts with large brush strokes and a free touch in patterns that were sometimes repeated in the background or would, on the contrary, be in strong contrast with the body. Her work not only pivots on this formal investigation of the human body, the art of painting and three- dimen-sional space, as this would soon make looking at and pondering over the work a rather tedious business. In the course of the past ten years (hidden) meaning has gradually entered into and become more prominent in Ziach’s work. She proves that her autonomous sculptures cannot readily be turned into a clear, cut-and-dried narrative. It sticks out a mile that Ziach is talking about eroticism, about touching, approach, fear, pain and pleasure, but what is really happening needs to be conjured up with the help of our own imagination. Initially Ziach’s photoworks were hanging flat on the walls and space was examined with the help of painterly means, the way it was done before by Dürer, Da Vinci and Malevich. At a later stage the photographs were combined with black frames and mirrors which were placed freely in the room. Melancholia, memories of a past gone by, of a loved one, these are subjects which have been successful in art from time immemorial. It all depends on the way in which the artist is able to give shape to the inherent feelings. To do so Ziach enters the twilight zone of dreams and nightmares, but also the mystical atmosphere she found in the Zen gardens and temples of Japan. The dominating elements in the resulting works are a great silence and concentration. A rain puddle in Paris is also the eye, the mirror of the soul. A colossal Buddha in Japan which simultaneously serves as a temple, is cut in half and in the space thus created a dark, romantic water unfolds itself (for this work Ziach made parallel undulating lines in fine sand, in the way they are also made in Zen gardens to create sacrosanct beauty).
Mirrors reflect cloudy skies twofold or threefold. A row of houses in Poland stands uncompromisingly and obliquely in the room and returns in reverse in the mirrors on the floor; those mirrors are then shaped thus that a large empty white square remains (a memory gap?). These are fascinating, never-seen images.
Het Domein also shows Suite Rimbaud, a joint project of the artist Richard Bouwman and the poet Rien Vroegindewey who translated a number of Arthur Rimbaud’s poems. The texts (in French and Dutch) combined with seven beautiful lithos constitute the edition Delirium. Other drawings and paintings of Bouwman have been added for the exhibition.
Translation: J.M. Keulers