Meetings with Japan – artistic output of Aliska Lahusen and Gabriela Morawetz

Joanna Sitkowska-Bayle
(International Association of Art Critics, Paris)

Aliska Lahusen and Gabriela Morawetz are Polish artists who live and work in France. They are both fascinated by the art and culture of other civilisations and they are sensitive to universal symbols, archetypes and rituals. Their artistic road first brought them from Poland to the West and then from the West to the East. My intention is to present the latter part of their creative journey, which for each of them had a very different shape.

Lahusen’s areas of interest are sculpture, painting, graphic art and installations. Her creative output from the 70s and 80s is marked by organic references. In the 90s the sculptures made on the basis of wooden skeletons and covered with sheets of lead are accompanied by paintings most often executed on lead, with the use of deep, matt black paint. The most important element of all works is the material or matter that absorbs or generates light. A series entitled “Mirrors”, inspired by the Japanese myth about the goddess Amaterasu, was created with the use of a traditional technique of lacquerware. It is only one of many examples of the artist’s inspiration taken from the arts and crafts of Japan. The holistic understanding of the world, the attentive balancing of contradictory elements (emptiness and wholeness) and the accompanying search for unity – all so close to the thought of the Far East – are all basic features of the works of Aliska Lahusen.

In the centre of creative interests of Gabriela Morawetz we have a human silhouette. The strongest illustrations for this statement are her performances made with the appearance of i.a. Japanese dancers, which were organised during several editions of Biwako Biennale in Japan. Her works referring to the tradition of the Far East in a less direct way are characterised by a particular visual poetry of impermanence, directing our gaze deep into the painting. The artist most often uses photography as her medium, but she uses it in a non-conventional way. At the same time, makemono that she recently created gives evidence for her growing closeness to the forms taken directly from the Japanese culture.

The oeuvres of both artists, who in their work release an individual and unique expression – at the same time inscribing it into the world of creations from different cultures – are especially beautiful and precious in the postmodern world, with its growing standardisation of tastes and more and more common impoverishment of artistic message.