Steel Life and Venus Without Qualities comprises two works and a single situation. This situation could be an exhibition in itself, but could also be perceived as its mystification. The objects presented seem to be illusory in a twofold manner. They are not what we take them to be at a first glance. Tailor's mannequin is not a real tailor's mannequin, but its form sculpted out of a noble material of marble. Thus, it is not ready-made that became an artwork through the artist's intervention (choice). It is his true product, also in the material sense. The painting is not a painting, although at a first glance it could be taken as such. This perception could be influenced by the existence of a false stretcher of canvas (clearly visible at the back of the painting), the picture-frame and brass plaque captioning the work's title. Even the surface of the painting, when seen from afar, does not shake off this illusion. Only when we move closer, can we see that this is not a canvas covered with layers of paint, but scratched steel that vaguely and imperfectly reflects its surroundings. Steel Life is not the title of the picture-representation, but rather the title of the picture-object that was awakened to life by its creator. Works are what the artist proposes them to be, and not that which they promise during the preliminary inspection. Or, maybe, they are something that seems to be proposed by an artist.

Szczerbowski is not an artist that shakes our perceptual foundations. Neither does he evoke numerous representations, nor refer to emotions. He continues to multiply questions that are not only about art but also about reality itself. Are works shown in the exhibition art objects, their equivalents or even fakes? And, even if they are "fakes" through their conception, are they not given the status of the work of art? Are they less artiful than Duchamp's urinal (after all, they are made not "ready") or 17th century trompe l'oeil (they reflect the world in a less precise way)? Or, maybe they are more artful? Equally vague is the situation arising by presenting objects in a gallery space, almost in a museum-like setting. Is it an art exhibition, or just its staging? If it's a staging, why it is so? Does it happen through the facts - works, or the artist's intentions? In his essay Art And Cognition Robert Szczerbowski writes: "The world is apperance as art proves. By using the arbitrary and the fictitious, art is a kind of universal simulation and artifact, with its array of mystification, with its swelling museums and collections which amass the paraphernalia of alternative realities: equally unreal and unfathomable as the everyday."


by   Hanna Wróblewska

© 2015 by Robert Szczerbowski

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