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Grażyna Ryba

“We are at a moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein”, and the future will belong more to space than to time – claimed Michel Foucault in 1967, penetratingly diagnosing revolutionary – from the current perspective – changes taking place in the culture of the past century. In the humanities, and therefore also in the history of art, they were dominated by several distinct trends, including a “spatial turn”. It brought an opposition of architecture and sculpture as forms developing in space to static images that had captured the previous discourse of art history. Simultaneously, it initiated a search for the transposition of new experiences into the language of the two-dimensional composition and the conventional space of the image field. Finally, it led to assimilation of painting by spatial arts under new rules, manifested even in the activities of street art. At the same time, there followed a gradual expansion of the domain of art history to take in new media, such as photography, computer graphics and the movie image.

Contemporary art, striking in its diversity and richness of expression, has also undergone a reevaluation of landscape, expansion of limits of the concept and a departure from its previous perception as a genre of painting with a precisely defined nature. The reluctance to categorize, characteristic of our time, has brought confusion and has even, in the common awareness of the average consumer of culture, led to a reduction of the great tradition of landscape painting to sentimental daubs. Yet landscape, which is not just a simple record of the surrounding world but a medium expressing emotions or symbolic contents, sometimes with metaphysical undertones, abounds in interesting realisations, although functioning in different contexts that hinder the overall characterisation of this phenomenon in the art of recent decades.

Today in Poland there are renowned landscape painters who continue the centuries-old tradition (among others, Stanisław Rodziński and Stanisław Baj). At the other extreme one may situate those artists who create landscape compositions using the latest digital techniques (e.g. Ryszard Horowitz). We also cannot disregard images preserved and transposed by means of film, portraits of places used in all kinds of activities in space, or so-called “internal landscape”, discovered in literature and the visual arts again and again.

The metaphysics of contemporary landscape art is still awaiting a synthetic study; meanwhile the present volume of “Sacrum et Decorum” offers its readers several articles devoted to the question of landscape metaphysics, situated on the margin of the issues which are the domain of our journal. A specific introduction to that question is provided by Renata Rogozińska’s text, written from a theological perspective. The article by Michał Haake recalls the figure of Caspar David Friedrich, who cannot be disregarded when discussing metaphysical references in landscape painting. Grażyna Ryba attempts to show the personality of the Warsaw painter Marzanna Wróblewska through her paintings, expressing religious reflection in forms inspired by nature.

The question of landscape in the current volume is complemented by a topic discussed by Marcin Lachowski who, by analyzing the painting of the Lublin art circles centred around the “Zamek” group, seeks to capture the phenomena occurring on the border between the sacred and the profane, and the presence of religious references in the directions of contemporary art.

Another consequence of the spatial turn effected in the humanities in recent decades, and in no small measure contributed to by Foucault, quoted above, is a new look at the phenomenon of regional art. These questions are dealt with in Joanna Wolańska’s article, dedicated to church interior decorations in Switzerland in the interwar period as well as, in a sense, in the extensive text by Anna Siemieniec, published in the “Materials”, and presenting partial results of the Warsaw works of Adam Stalony-Dobrzański.

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