Thought Structures I once thought of my works as interiors, as formulas of spiritual labyrinths; but then the very idea of thinking something into something else will make a metaphor of them, and the last thing I wanted them to be was the illustration of an idea. If art is to convey fragility, incompleteness, living by half, Halina Jaworski's art certainly has this quality. In her case, fragility and unfulfilment do not apply to anything definite, but are understood as a permanent state, as, so to say a Malevich-rooted sense of incompleteness. If we accept what John Matheson says about the young artist in an essay dedicated to her, that the foremost quality of her work is its spontaneity we may be tempted to seek in it traces of the parting with her native country at a very young age. This split and unfulfilment may lie at the source of the artist's personality which is apparently shaped by longing which has never been named, nor even realized, but which is nevertheless continually evoked by the fact that although Halina Jaworski lives and works abroad, Polish is spoken in her home at her instance.
I therefore describe no object and illustrate no subject. It is the very idea of thoughts, the structure of them, which is being rendered. In a way, the oldest, most archaic language before stories were invented, before myths, were these coded riddles which came to play the hero role. The temptation of meaning is there, and may even enrich the viewer, but the essence is not in the story, for the act of making images is contradictory; in essence one paints in order to show what cannot be seen.
It is for this reason that I am so attracted to the term labyrinth, because it represents this contradiction. The labyrinth conceals, while the picture, supposedly, reveals; yet this revelation is an illusion. It is about what is not there. The work is then a labyrinth by virtue of its qualities of evasion, concealment and deception, and it is in this aspect that one can relate my work back to my origin as a Jew. In my religion, the image is known to be lying, while the ultimate image is and remains the word. Indeed, in the early stages of my works, words appeared again and again as soldiers defending the picture from its own evils.
When I say that my works are "Thought Structures", renouncing both words and images, this also explains their seriality, for like thought, they are invented in a hall of mirrors where the idea is constantly reflected and repeated; a never-ending process in the long journey between their conception and their formulation. Each work is a part of a whole, and the whole desires an end, but will never find it. You may regard the constituent parts which dwell in each work as the words of an alphabet, the grammar of a story yet to be told in the Messianic days of the Second Coming. This may sound utopian; but then is this not the force behind each work of art?
I therefore put down the road stones, the letters and sentences of an impossible language, In my private life I collect stones and old books and ancient coins. This act of collection may parallel the collection of songs in my works. I don't analyse the song-thought; on this level, analysis is meaningless. From an art-historical perspective, my work relates to those movements such as Constructivism which realised the hazards of "Erscheinung" (Figuration) and by-passed it by annihilating symbols. One can never run away from the metaphor or the symbol, but the failure is worth the attempt, Sons of Adam that we are.
Halina Jaworski, 1991
One of the most gifted students of Günther Uecker's at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf, she made her debut even before obtaining her degree. Her earliest works, executed in the mid-seventies, include linguistic experiments and books. The former were closely linked with her settling in a foreign country. They consisted of comparative notations, for instance, nouns were declined or verbs conjugated in the two languages, and their bringing together created a visual effect. Jaworski's books were different though all were big-sized. One of the first was called In Homage to Strzeminski, followed by the Book of Love more than one metre and a half tall, made of big parchment sheets with pieces of foil coming unstuck, and the inscription "love" at the bottom of each of the opening pages. There were also scroll-books, or "wall books", paintings which fold and unfold like book pages thanks to hinges. Closed or open, they always had the "opposite" leaf unknown to the eye, in which they were reminiscent of printed volumes. Other forms of Halina Jaworski's art includes collages, reliefs, sentimental, ironical and allusive assemblages, and even outdoor action.
Jaworski was never permanently attached to a form or technique. Most important was her comment or message always lurking, almost predatory, behind her formal quasi-games or quasi-experiments. Until 1977, the artist used exclusively white. In 1977, she embarked on a series of geometric paintings. Her use of white was an exercise in ascesis, but there is no orthodox artistic programme in her use of geometry. That is why the Forms form 1978 or the disintegrating Untitled square from 1978/79 were not built for the sake of geometry, but in order to analyse the drama of disintegration (the latter) and to study signs-symbols and their cultural associations (the former). The Forms are a frieze of sign transformations where white, sharp-edged geometric shapes go beyond the areas alloted to them. They are made of non-durable material, which is not without meaning. With Halina Jaworski one never knows where a serious comment ends and mockery or pungent wit of whose implied meaning we are aware begins. In 1979, the municipal authorities commissioned the artist to construct an installation which was to be seen from a distance, notably from the cable railway (Schwebebahn) built about a hundred years ago. The project was launched in commemoration of the merger of the cities of Wuppertal and Barmen. The artist put up a forest of banners, each ten metres high, on the river Wupper. Silvery white, four metres wide each, they were attached to six-metre-high flag-staffs, and each of them had a circular opening with the diameter of one metre. There was as much sublimity and poetry as beauty, simplicity and purity in the contrast between the green trees, bushes and hills, and the white forest of fluttering banners.
In 1981, the artist embarked on a series of polygonal paintings on canvas, the most important in her output so far, entitled "Mehreckige Leinwandbilder", abbreviated by the artist to Ecksy. She began by producing what looks like traditional paintings, with the canvas taut on the stretcher, all fixed by herself. At the next stage she assembled reliefs from the individual parts of these paintings mounted at different angles. As indicated by the title, these works are polygonal, They are asymmetrical and the canvas is not grounded. Portions of it are not covered with paint, so that their colour has remained nobly natural. In places, these works are painted structurally, most often in parallel bands in a single colour, green, orange or blue. Elsewhere, they consist of two uniform colour fields put together in an interesting way.
Her art is free of aestheticism.lt is meaningful and mocks at tradition. She opposes it and offers a new approach to art. Her comment is both tragic and witty. The Ecksy organise space in a perfect way. Poking fun at painting proper, they put forward a proposal for new painting. The Ecksy are at times reminiscent of something as familiar as the Green Eagle, but their flitting across the walls is in most cases quite disinterested. Swift and sharp, or awkward and shapeless, they attract one by their being different from whatever one has seen before. They are not only noteworthy, but beautiful in a peculiar, unique way.
Jaworski's works from the early eighties contain a considerable amount of symbolism. Among them is the Paradise Lost, an installation constructed for the Museum of Art in Düsseldorf. It contains a six-metre high Maltese cross built of four red triangles, symbolising the order, and a blue pyramid made up of the same elements, symbolizing a sarcophagus, with Jacob's ladder and a shrine with an inscription saying, "Come, Mephisto!". The individual components of this environmental composition are linked up not only on a semantic and architectural basis, but they also make up a whole with the architecture of the interior. Her composition from 1982, entitled Arrows and Shields, a Comment on the History of Poland, was likewise meaningful. Symbols of defence were separate from symbols of aggression by a symbol of Christianity, the fish. The Eye of Providence looking from above is a comment full of sadness and irony.
Halina Jaworski's message is as vivid and colourful as her personality. Her means of expression are variegated. Moreover, they never contain any trace of borrowing. The originality of her thinking, and her creative readiness to produce ever new solutions are striking. Satisfactory as her achievements hitherto are the artist is still full of promise for the future.
Bozena Kowalska, "Projekt 5'85/164", 1985
I once thought of my works as interiors, as formulas of spiritual labyrinths; but then the very idea of thinking something into something else will make a metaphor of them, and the last thing I wanted them to be was the illustration of an idea.
If art is to convey fragility, incompleteness, living by half, Halina Jaworski's art certainly has this quality. In her case, fragility and unfulfilment do not apply to anything definite, but are understood as a permanent state, as, so to say a Malevich-rooted sense of incompleteness. If we accept what John Matheson says about the young artist in an essay dedicated to her, that the foremost quality of her work is its spontaneity we may be tempted to seek in it traces of the parting with her native country at a very young age. This split and unfulfilment may lie at the source of the artist's personality which is apparently shaped by longing which has never been named, nor even realized, but which is nevertheless continually evoked by the fact that although Halina Jaworski lives and works abroad, Polish is spoken in her home at her instance.