was the result of a col­lab­o­ra­tion between myself, TASTE Shop and Noo-Stu­dio. It was pro­duced in TASTE Stu­dio, dur­ing March 2014 res­i­den­cy and ran between the 11th of April and 13th of May 2014, in TASTE Shop’s exhi­bi­tion space in Tian Zi Fang (Shang­hai).

The “MA” exhibition is based on the idea of complimentary contrasts:
  • West­ern and East­ern cul­tures and values,
  • ele­ments — lin­ear and shad­ing, mono­chro­mat­ic and gold,
  • tech­niques — hand drawn and digital,
  • art his­to­ry con­text — past and present,
  • com­po­si­tion­al ele­ments — amor and hor­ror vacui.

Fus­ing both these east­ern and west­ern philoso­phies was a strong basis and metaphor for the over­all res­i­den­cy and exhi­bi­tion. Hence, I chose to study the con­cept of “MA” — a japan­ese word that trans­lates as “space” or “pause”. I employed this to influ­ence my aes­thet­ic and as a method of con­struct­ing con­trast, weav­ing ‘visu­al inter­vals’ into the com­po­si­tion, which high­light oth­er care­ful­ly select­ed components.

The direct inspi­ra­tion for the art­work came from the video “Urban Butoh” per­formed by Butoh dance mas­ter Atsushi Take­nouchi and direct­ed by Jor­di Arque. Choice of Butoh sup­port­ed the on-going theme of dance preva­lent in my work and com­pli­ment­ed the study of “MA”. With its’ unique form of expres­sion and pow­er­ful visu­al impact of its styl­ized ges­tures Butoh intro­duced fresh and fas­ci­nat­ing themes to my practice.

MA Exhibition | Hand Drawing Surface Pattern & Illustration Design | Karolina Szymkiewicz
MA Exhibition | Hand Drawing Surface Pattern & Illustration Design | Karolina Szymkiewicz
MA Exhibition | Hand Drawing Surface Pattern & Illustration Design | Karolina Szymkiewicz

Specif­i­cal­ly for TASTE exhi­bi­tion I have devel­oped a mixed media tech­nique incor­po­rat­ing dig­i­tal print and real gold leaves with more tra­di­tion­al pen­cil draw­ing. I’ve always been inspired by the Renais­sance con­cept of beau­ty realised in the elab­o­rate depic­tions of human body. I jux­ta­posed these with a more con­tem­po­rary, dig­i­tal medi­um reflect­ed in the pref­er­ence for a hum­ble line. The human body got there­fore sim­pli­fied to strokes and shad­ows. The intro­duc­tion of gold was influ­enced by the desire to main­tain a mono­chrome palette, how­ev­er bring some tex­ture into the work. Gold leaf reflect­ing light­ing addd to the movement.

Side by side I placed the care­ful­ly struc­tured draw­ing with the brush­strokes appli­ca­tion of the gold leaves, con­tribut­ing dynam­ic, uncon­trol­lable, expres­sive ele­ments to the art­work and rep­re­sent­ing abun­dance, strength, per­fec­tion and sophistication.

Fur­ther­more, the colour reflects the mas­cu­line ener­gy present in the art­work and Butoh. Gold ampli­fies the asso­ci­a­tion to the employed in the art­work divine prin­ci­ples of the gold­en ratio and basic shapes — tri­an­gle, diag­o­nals and cir­cles. In Euro­pean cul­ture gold was pri­mar­i­ly used in reli­gious rep­re­sen­ta­tions of medieval altars and icons. In oppo­si­tion, in the East­ern stan­dards of Butoh the dancers per­form naked, stripped of all bound­aries allow­ing full, pure, organ­ic expres­sion. Final­ly, the Han char­ac­ter for “MA” com­pris­es of sep­a­rate Chi­nese marks mean­ing “Door of the Sun”, again allud­ing to the use of gold leaf.I aimed to emphase this con­trast through the use of expres­sive strokes cov­ered in gold leaves against a mono­chro­mat­ic colour range.