A Fragment of the Whole. The Traces of Japanese Aesthetics in the Works on Silk of Selected Polish Female Artists

Magdalena Durda-Dmitruk, Ph.D.
(Collegium of Art Education, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw; Polish Institute of World Art Studies)

Silk – mostly associated with the tradition of the Far East which particularly cherished its practical use, at present is also successfully exploited by artists working with different media. Silk is eagerly used by female artists as a basis for paintings and embroideries. Like a film, it records photographic visions or creates ephemeral spatial installations.

The aim of my presentation is to point at the traces of the presence of Japanese aesthetics and tradition in the works on silk created by several artists living in Poland (Joanna Stasiak, Małgorzata Malwina Niespodziewana-Rados) and in France (Ewa Kuryluk, Gabriela Morawetz). I discuss the references to selected aspects of Japanese aesthetics and art: both in reference to form and composition (e.g. fragmentariness, asymmetry, flatness, re-scaling, active role of emptiness, understatements, simplicity, naturalness, minimalism), and to categories and notions, e.g. mono no aware, yugen, shibui or wabi sabi.

Each of the female artists admits her fascination with Japanese culture and art. They choose silk as a medium with full awareness of its origin and centuries-old tradition, but they also work with it because of its specific qualities.

Appreciating the advantages of the fabric – its semi-transparency, shine, fleshiness, airiness and two-sidedness – the artists use silk to record fragments of everyday life, traces of memory, stories about evanescence and transformation. They are also connected by similar sensitivity and poetic, ephemeral and minimalist way of imaging and intuitiveness of artistic recording.