The basic and primary functions of drawing are to establish lines, divide planes and create meanings. It may require high skills and experience – as in technical or detailed realistic drawing – and may be quite difficult to master. But there is also a different and a more common kind of drawing: automatic scribbling, plotting multiple lines and circles during meetings, phone calls or while waiting. These are not deliberate gestures; they result from the natural need to express, to calm down or remain active in some way.
In his most recent works, Michał Smandek confronts works of art with nature. He chooses two extreme creative methods, which are parallel and concurrent here. First, he documents manifestations of natural phenomena, giving the impression of conscious actions. Second, he interferes with the landscape in such a subtle and delicate way that it is impossible to tell if we are dealing with the work of man or of nature.
The blurring of the border between performance and documentation results in a more objective approach to the shape. Without knowing anything about the intent, purpose or awareness of the potential author, we focus on the formal side of the drawing on sand. Smandek indirectly postulates a rejection of the modern excessive production of objects as works of art for the observation and appropriation of situations with “a high coefficient of art”.
In addition to documenting drawings found in nature (made with or without the help of the author), Smandek also proposes machines for drawing and plotting lines in space. He uses heavy materials, their properties and physical principles, to create sculptures that are situated between the drawing tool and the drawing itself. This time the role of the author is clear and obvious, but the outcome would not be possible without the natural phenomena that maintain the actual shape of the found sign.
The exhibition consists of the Radius Work series of photographs (Sahara, Morocco) and Knife Work photography (Gobi, Mongolia) – elements of the Manual Rest project – and the sculptures Tightener, Hard Worker and Halfdrawer.