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Music of the Spheres

Duża Scena Gallery / UAP
24 Wodna Street, Poznań, Poland
Opening: March, 7, 18:00
The exhibition is open from 7 March to 1 April 2023

For a long time, music was not so much a concept defining the audible harmony of sounds, but primarily a mathematical science of proportions, one of the liberal arts. In a broader sense, it was perceived as order—in both the anthropological sense (musica humana) and in the cosmic sense (musica mundana). This order was an abstract, soundless form that was the subject of philosophical considerations and mathematical calculations.

The title of the exhibition Music of the Spheres refers to the concept that dates back to Pythagorean times, linking the mathematical order with the constant movement of celestial bodies, as a result of which harmony is created—a melody that, due to the imperfection of human nature, is inaudible to us. This inaudibility of cosmic harmony and its simultaneous inadequacy to the inner harmony of man is a kind of tragedy coined by philosophers, which is confirmed by the extraordinary manifestations of everyday life. These include moments of shivers at the sound of music, sudden revelations (moments of a sense of greater sense), and purposefulness of events, so-called twists of fate that question the human sense of randomness. The connection between sounds and numbers as perceived by Pythagoreans was supposed to result from the statement that the principles of mathematical order are the principles of all things. All things, including the human soul— the human interior, which is subject to constant calculation and seems to have its unique geometry—are to be subordinated to the logic of the cosmological principle, according to which the universe is the same at every point.

Artists whose works directly or indirectly refer to issues related to space, order, notation and geometry have been invited to participate in the exhibition. Through their abstract and rhythmic nature, their works fit in with the Pythagorean way of thinking about the universe, where the same algorithm functions in relation to the human microscale and the cosmic macroscale.

According to one theory, the innate ability to hear the music of the spheres is lost over time, out of habit, just as people living near railroad tracks stop paying attention to the clatter of trains passing by regularly. It might seem that mantric, repetitive drawing and painting activities induce a state of sensitive consciousness, which allows the artists to re-align themselves with music that is inaccessible to others. Do they hum the melody of the spheres heard in the rhythm of the compositions they create when developing the planes of images? Joanna Imielska’s drawings from the Ostrava series are intertwined with the fibres of the exhibition material, filled with original signs-symbols embedded in astronomy. Their composition is rich with graphic matter and has a clear structure subordinated to the inventory of planets. Andrzej Leśnik’s paintings are structured in a similar and completely different way. The observed reality is reflected in the microcosm of harmonious zigzags—non-movable geometric elements, permanently reinforced on the plane of the canvas. The vapours of colour loom from their pure blackness. Rhythmic, diagonal forms in the portrait entitled The Holy Mountain by Łukasz Patelczyk are the horizon of the massif reflecting the starry, black sky, distant and free from the artificial lights of human settlements. It resembles the world emerging from darkness, which is the starting point, the mythical beginning, to which Agata Michowska’s film Genesis alludes. The process of creation written down from the last to the first letter and read by female and male voices becomes a symbolic inversion of time, constantly returning to the moment when the world was brought into existence in the form known to us. Out of the darkness emerges a large-format landscape from the series entitled I Will Describe the Suns at Night by Katarzyna Szeszycka. It is a record of the mood in the first phase of the process of regaining harmony, coping with a crisis, and resilience, that is, a state in which a person finds the strength to regain vitality. The tension of forces between seemingly contradictory concepts: ravage and creation, destruction and building, appears in Sebastian Krzywak’s paintings. Using layers of matter, imposing and erasing forms, immersive matte and mirror gloss, Krzywak creates a suggestive image of a double surface: the starry sky and the sea shimmering in the reflection. Anna Tyczyńska moves within the category of a mirror image through black, large-format photography having a minimalist form. A large mirror, which collects images from the surroundings, introduces the idea of a photographic print, a literal ‘photograph’ of reality, and its transfer to the printout surface to the meta-level. The image in the mirror is created simultaneously with what stands in front of it. Each time it appears differently and cannot be reproduced. The constancy of the dark matter of the ground against the ephemerality of the reflection is as mysterious here as the emanation of dark light in Tomasz Wendland’s photographs. The record takes a completely different form here, capturing an incidental phenomenon: thick darkness emerges in a lit room. The pulse of light in the negative, the dynamics of which expresses hitherto unrecognised energy, seems to reveal to us a completely different, hidden dimension of life. Oliwia Szepietowska’s photographs from the series entitled Fibres – Nebulas are also supposed to reveal a surprising aspect of everyday life. Small formats, reminiscent of scientific visual notes pasted in a report on celestial spheres, are a record of proof of the validity of the cosmological principle. According to this principle, from the human perspective, the world is a reflection of the universe, and the fibres coming from the body are no different from structures formed in distant galaxies. Contrasting the dark representations, Agata Michowska’s white plaster sculpture resembles a root or a growing coral reef. The title Transformation of Moon Bones into Constellations, forming a more or less ordered structure, bases its uniqueness on the dichotomy of flexibility and stability, softness and hardness, pleasure and coldness. Finally, the exhibition features a sound installation by Oliwia Szepietowska, which is a Mystic Chord extended in time and intensified. Does the momentary sonic rapture, stretched to the limit, retain its mystical properties? The moment of sonic pleasure, momentary alignment with the harmony of the world, becomes tiresome when it does not pass. What is mystical and ecstatic proves to be present in the absence.

Noticing that musical sounds are closely related to real numbers, Pythagoras laid the foundations for the theory of music. The idea that the distances between the planets correspond to musical intervals, and that the structure of the cosmos is identical to the structure of a musical work, initiated the development of exact sciences. Music of the Spheres is one of those ideas in which the tension between exact sciences embedded in numbers and the mystical overtones of quasi-scientific considerations is clear. The exhibition invites us to both these experiences, leaving the audience the freedom to choose their interpretive path.

Oliwia Szepietowska

Invited artists: Joanna Imielska, Sebastian Krzywak, Andrzej Leśnik, Agata Michowska, Łukasz Patelczyk,                         Oliwia Szepietowska, Katarzyna Szeszycka, Anna Tyczyńska, Tomasz Wendland

Curators: Anna Tyczyńska / Joanna Imielska

Notes about the artists:

Joanna Imielska, Sebastian Krzywak, Andrzej Leśnik, Agata Michowska, Łukasz Patelczyk, Oliwia Szepietowska, Katarzyna Szeszycka, Anna Tyczyńska, Tomasz Wendland

  • Author: o.petrenko
  • Published on: 07.03.2023, 14:19
  • Last edit: 07.03.2023, 14:19