Andreea Anghel, Radek Szlaga - UNTITLED (EMOTIONAL ARCHIVE)
The mall had not been frequented for a long time. There were no more crowds of onlookers admiring the shop windows. The cinema, which had been the last hope of the place, was eventually closed. Two artists decided to visit the abandoned building. And they wished to create new works and breathe life into the empty space. The site-specific installation they designed was placed in the atrium in order to reference the classics of environmental art. They believed that their collaborative work would inspire. Shortly before the opening, it turned out that the president had taken the decision to demolish the building. An art gallery was to be built in its place.
The artists did not lose faith that their work and that the story of the mall could be told in another place. They planned to reconstruct the installation. The juxtaposition of their works created a spatial and symbolic form in which each element was rooted in individual experience, and was also an attempt to reinterpret recent history. The installation consisted of multi-part assemblages that were reminiscent of advertising vitrines, using printmaking, found objects and semi-liquid materials. They were surrounded by paintings in which text and narratives about migration or language would appear next to each other (...).
A semi-fictional story as the one written above could be an introduction to the exhibition UNTITLED (EMOTIONAL ARCHIVE). Andreea Anghel (b. 1990) and Radek Szlaga (b. 1979) present at MOS their joint installation consisting primarily of their most recent works.
Andreea Anghel is a multidisciplinary artist born in Romania, currently living in Wrocław. She creates collages, assemblages and installations in which she uses printmaking, found objects and semi-liquid materials. Her recent solo exhibitions include: Well-Upholstered Nightmare at the Zina Gallery, Cluj-Napoca (RO, 2022) and Silver Shining Tears at 3 a.m. (duo with Łukasz Stokłosa) at the Śmierć Człowieka gallery (2021). Her works are in many collections such as MNAC – National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, among others. Anghel was awarded in the Allegro Prize 2022 competition. She participated in the residency program organized by Aici Acolo (Timișoara, RO). She is a graduate of the Studio of Digital Printing and Experimental Techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław (PL) and the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca (RO).
Andreea Anghel’s artistic practice is characterised by the need to experiment in the visual and symbolic layer. Anghel combines ready-made objects and carefully designed sculptural or mise-en-scène elements. She accentuates the manual work and the emotional effort as important features of her work. The artist’s experiments often raise issues of identity, memory and the relationship between the entity and its surroundings. By overlapping layers that are seemingly distant from each other in terms of meaning and history, Anghel creates three-dimensional compositions full of symbolism, which evoke personal memories, often forcing one to question the perception of reality. Light and sound in many of Anghel’s objects give a sense of the uncanny and at the same time create an intimate contact with the art installations.
The artist often uses materials from archival publications and various types of artefacts. The installation developed especially for the exhibition is part of the series called “Emotional Archive” (since 2018). The work includes an ever-growing repository of images and objects collected from many sources. For example, Anghel stems from Soviet propaganda publications in which utopian visions of everyday life and art have been a tool of Russian colonialism. The artist extracts individual elements from them to visualise the nationalist and conservative aspirations of their authors. Many of the works in the series include objects surprisingly reminiscent of shop windows. They are filled with graphic features and the lighting, and evoke associations with the aesthetics of advertising known from previous decades.
Radek Szlaga creates paintings and objects. In his work, he uses a number of materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of painting as a medium. He often puts several layers of paint on the canvas, or several canvases on top of each other, sometimes stitching them together and creating installations from them. Recent artist’s solo exhibitions include Kill Your Idols, Basilica di San Celso in Milan (2022), Diaspo⟨r⟩a, Postmasters Gallery in Rome (2021), Places I Had No Intention of Seeing at Warsaw’s Zachęta – National Gallery of Art (2019), and Places I Had No Intention of Seeing at Museum Jerke, Recklinghausen (DE, 2018). A graduate of the University of Arts in Poznań. He lives and works in Brussels.
Szlaga freely juxtaposes fragments of previously created compositions, which he deconstructs, paints over and reworks, creating painterly installations with various textures. Many of his works show traces of stitching in spots where layers of canvas are joined. He often places figurative and typographic elements in his paintings, as well as more or less readable quotes. A characteristic feature of Szlaga’s works is the intertwining of autobiographical threads and humour, related to, for example, the experience of migration. Personal narratives and commentary style overlap with afterimages of collective memory.
The central part of the work presented at the exhibition is an untitled painting composition from the series “Places I Had No Intention of Seeing” (2017–2023). Szlaga builds it from several dozen elements sewn together which all together form a single pattern. Some of the recognizable elements feature maps of the world, defragmented and treated as a painting base and combined with the matter of previous works. The artist combines elements from the past into one abstract-looking object with a characteristic, rhythmic pattern. Szlaga cuts and stitches pieces of canvas of various shapes - traces of figurative representations he created earlier, stitches them together with the cartographic images of regions and continents. It blurs the identity of the eponymous sites that are difficult to distinguish or the names of the cities and countries that cannot be read.
Text by Romuald