In Autumn 2015 Xawery Wolski transforms Gallery Elena Shchukina with a selection of his sculptures, drawings and installations.
Despite having exhibited widely, including at the National Gallery of Art, Poland, the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico and the National Gallery of Jakarta, The Course of Infinity: Space, Time and Light is Wolski’s first solo show within the UK. He has transformed the Gallery Elena Shchukina space with a selection of his sculptures, drawings and installations.
Since leaving Poland at the age of 23, Wolski’s work has developed from a single idea, a question, an absence. His body of work is inspired by his studies of genetics and heavily influenced by his time in South America, where he began to understand space and light.
There is an internal conflict visible in his works: the creative artist with a classical training challenged by his contemporary ideas. There is also a sense of restraint in his works, a reminder of his restricted childhood under communist rule, a society very different from the society that he experienced during his time at Art School in Paris.
This exhibition aims to immerse all senses, both physically and mentally, ensuring that the visitor carries an emotional reminder of the exhibition away with them. This aim connects with the years that Wolski spent travelling – learning from his surroundings, but losing a part of his identity in each place. He states, ‘I don’t know if anyone really returns home.’
In this carefully curated exhibition all objects relate to one another, linking the past to the present and the future and creating a dialogue between the works. A beaded work cascades from the wall, its endlessly falling circles inspired by rosary beads – thus paying homage to Wolski's Catholic upbringing. This piece – a symbol of a past civilisation – connects time and history using natural colours, making it visually appealing.
‘The Shawl’ is a three-dimensional work based on a knowledge of, and use of, earthen clay. The artist’s finger prints are visible in each handmade bead, the imprints a symbol of the energy used to create this highly emotive work. ‘The Shawl’ is an example of Wolski embracing a traditional material from which he creates something very contemporary.
Back in Poland, the artist's father conducted scientific research into the cross-pollination of plants for the government, and these studies into nature are a clear influence on Wolski’s work. Many of the pieces incorporate seeds and fibres. The influence of minimalist sculptors including Brancusi and Judd is also apparent in these works. The bronze chain sculptures, which he presents in the Gallery, are painted white, hiding the underlying metal and obstructing one’s understanding of the piece. The chains, a symbol of strength, seem weightless when presented in white. His sculptures often take the simplest form, allowing for traditional techniques and modern ideas to merge wonderfully together.