17.07.2021 - 17.08.2021

The "small forms" of the title are objects of a non-concrete, fluid status. To the eyes of some they may appear as architectural models or monument projects, others will see in them constellations of small sculptures or urbanistic models. These are the results of work with matter and space - aspects fundamental to the creative experience of Michal Sroka, an artist practicing in the fields of painting, sculpture and installation, as well as digital techniques, and at the same time a trained architect. The small-sized objects he creates are hybrid in nature, disregarding all divisions and oscillating between media. They realize the idea of pure potentiality and unlimited possibilities for the emergence of new artistic entities from freely shaped or found and processed or re-constructed material.

It is hard to get rid of the impression that the works gathered at the exhibition were created as the aftermath of numerous experiments and studies of the effects of implementing various methods of work. On the one hand, we will find here forms with a clear, geometric structure, giving the impression of being intellectually devised, on the other - those whose shape was given under the influence of an impulse or even an affect that appeared at the moment of the artist's hand contact with the matter. This focus on testing and experiencing prompts one to look at the exhibition of "small forms" as if it were a laboratory, but in the sense as understood before the Enlightenment breakthrough. Indeed, 17th-century natural philosophers, such as Robert Boyle[1], treated it as an open space where free discourse and exchange of ideas took place. Such a laboratory particularly valued the role of visitori - visitors who could follow the results of experiments and comment on them in real time. The strangeness and ambiguity of the phenomena encountered by these "visitors" meant that their experiences usually took the form of a fusion of sensory and intellectual impressions. The same is true of the works presented at the exhibition, which the viewer can consider both in terms of form and aesthetics, as well as in terms of the meaningful potential resulting directly from their structure. Among other things, they can be read in relation to problems alive in the sphere of architecture, understood not only as an element of shaping urban space, but also as a tool for exercising power and conducting politics. Utopian visions, growing out of the idea of searching for a spatial form that provides residents with a high level of comfort, intersect with associations with Brutalist architecture, reviving specters of the dark past. "Small forms" seen as mock-up monuments, in turn, make us ask who would be commemorated through them and what content the monument would carry. When considering the possible points of reference of Michal Sroka's works, it is also impossible to ignore the meta-artistic thread: the dialogue they enter into with the heritage of the 20th-century avant-gardes.

Natalia Cieślak