As we step into the gallery space, Jagoda Bednarsky’s solo exhibition “Impression Management” presents itself as a tenacious play with human, or rather: artificially produced sensory input. / White glove – Mickey Mouse – pantomime – body language – physical form of expression – entertainment / Bednarsky guides her viewers through her subjective visual world of symbolic reference systems with the aid of allusions that appear associative, yet precise. / Poppy – cultivation – early summer – opiate – abandon / The most diverse levels of reality our world has to offer are brought together in a dialogue that imbues them with new meaning, while the fundamental conditions of our perception are interwoven with a painterly portrayal of reality.
While the individual systems of signs and painterly elements confront us as presumed familiar entities, in the conglomeration they appear odd.
By dividing her canvasses into foreground, middle and background, and the varying degree to which each appears flat or to have depth, through her play with illusionism and abstraction, Bednarsky places each of her pictorial objects in a state of limbo, floating between autonomy and contextual awareness. / Temperature measuring device – illness – heat – warning –semiotics / Familiar associations, memories and definitions are activated and at the same time disrupted. / Post-It – pastel hues – milk – urgency – efficiency – memories / Time and again, the artistic associations cause stereotypical systems of representation and depiction to collide.
Traditional painterly shapes, such as gestural abstraction and floral ornamentation, and art historical derivations merge into a symbiotic fabric with cartoonesque techniques of representation, pantomimic forms of expression and her individual artistic subjectivity. / Garfield – lasagna – coffee – laziness – cynicism – cartoon / Through this tactical game with familiar images and formalities, Bednarksy allows her paintings to appear as active agents, as “managers” of our emotions and affect: quite in-keeping with the exhibition title. / White – cream-like blob – curtain – arrangement of folds – representation / While this synergetic process of creating new contexts of perception begins on the canvas, it is further escalated through the object-like qualities the paintings possess, and through the way in which they are staged in the space.
On the ground floor, oval paintings line the gallery walls. / Oval canvasses – mirror – narcissism – self-awareness – visibility – Roy Lichtenstein – “mirror series” / Bednarsky employs the reference of the mirror, or, to be precise, Roy Lichtenstein’s mirror, as a medium of self-awareness and farsightedness in order to lend her paintings their own self-referentiality. / Shadow play – gestures – light – pajama party – ritual / While Lichtenstein elevated the mirror itself to an object for artistic analysis, Bednarsky’s continually high level of abstraction evokes the self-reflectiveness of her works. / Thistle – thorns – weapon – Scotland – pride – steadfastness – identity / In this way her works begin to reflect their medium-specific self-awareness via their own existence as art and to deliberately perform it. / Pillows – softness – sleep – Dürer – drawing – schemes – self-portrait / Bednarsky thus turns the passivity of the mirror into the active existence of the canvas: Instead of reflecting what has happened and what she has seen, the canvasses demonstrate autonomy in showing themselves and their pictorial objects. / Pizza –pasta – Italy – gastronomy – hospitality – entertainment – leisure – meritocracy / In this way, they manifest a subjective mirror to the world and through employing familiar semiotics evoke recollections, or “impressions” of our cultural memory in order to conflate these in new, hybrid-like meanings and compositions.
If we as viewers already find ourselves destabilized by the gaze of her paintings on the ground floor, our contemplation and understanding unhinged, then things are about to take a more extreme turn on the upper gallery floor. / Umbrella – lousy weather – shelter – medium – ritual /The active self-awareness of the paintings is pointedly spatially emphasized in the presentation of the canvasses as a folding screen structure. / Bat – mammal – ultrasonic – superhuman – vampire – Dracula / Here Bednarsky’s artistic parallel world is not simply associatively hinted-at, but materializes as a distinct room-within-a-room. / Set of teeth – transience – skull – Dracula – Transylvania – novel – literature / Acting simultaneously as painting-image and item of furniture, display surface and screen, the painterly surface supersedes its environment and presents an alternative projection surface. / Fly - parasite – dirt – disease – glimmer – interference / At the same time it opens up an alternative stage, which as an expansive installation turns both into the backdrop and the protagonist of events and holds the viewer captive as an antagonist in this distinct cosmos. / Fish – water – Christianity – sticker – Rome – wealth / Enveloping us, the works direct our gaze, assert certain aspects and hide others, and thus determine what the viewer gets to see and feel.