The Danger of Approaching the Limits

Rodriguez Gallery, Poznan, 12.10–14.11.2018
Curator: Aleksander Hudzik

The exploration of all kinds of limits takes place in the shadow of catastrophe. Michał Smandek has been sculpting tensions for a long time, but this time he gives them a very specific form. In his new series of sculptures, he has created constructions that remind us of the instability of our times. While examining the limits of the material he uses − steel − he also asks about the burdens that, literally, all of us have to carry. In order to understand the essence of his explorations, one needs to get acquainted, at least roughly, with the most important motifs in the practice of this artist.

Smandek is a traveller who, during his journeys, used to photograph fairly exotic landscapes merged with the aluminium tent frame standing amongst that space. He brought such pictures from his travels across South America. The tent frame is a meaningful figure, both for the traveller and for the sculptor. It provides a substitute of home for the first one; although the tent-shelter can be converted by nature’s perils into a tent-grave. For the sculptor, it provides a field for observation. Flexible arches bend under the forces and pressure of wind, or a person present inside the tent. This way, they provide a ready sculptural installation.

Michał Smandek has already presented sculptures based on tensions and loads in steel or other materials, but now he has decided to go a step further. He reduces the metal frame to the minimum, so that steel becomes not even an illustration, but rather a medium pushed back to the background, reflecting the forces that it is exposed to. In order to achieve that effect, he makes steel thinner, squashes the excessive layers of material with a hammer, to leave just the necessary minimum to sustain the pressure. Where will Smandek end up, led by his drive to constantly bend and stress, balancing on the verge of catastrophe?

Aleksander Hudzik

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