16.11 - 3.12.1999
I am looking for such means of expression that allow me to "describe" the world and understand it in depth. What I create points to specific features of my imagination and artistic intuition. Art manifests itself not only in finding new means of expression or the search for original solutions, but sometimes in the deliberate reduction of its means in order to magnify expression and evoke the layer of meaning hidden under the surface of the picture. Photography conceived in such a way is to influence imagination by means of sets and series of photographs which reveal symbolic meanings. (...) In the works from the series called "Traces" and "Figures" I evoke rich sensuality and violent passions like never before. Man's fate is conceived here as the inseparable antinomy of the body and soul. It is the tragic perspective, leading towards death, decay and destruction of what materially co-exists with the cult of life in all its manifestations. The constant antagonism between Thanatos and Eros, despair and happiness, suffering, darkness and light - the apotheosis of youth and the fear of destruction, of being torn apart between the vision of lasting existence and passing away... These elements are ever present in man's earthly existence - they form the main ingredient of my latest photographic works and paintings. Works from the "Figures" series are related to nudes, but very much camouflaged, difficult to recognize, coming close to abstraction.
(...) He is not the first artist to use the human hand in his imagery, or as he himself puts it, in his "discoveries". But his photograms "discover" something else and in a different way. The author - a photographer, painter and art historian - has a very specific approach towards creating art. Art is not the means leading to some pragmatic ends, but a way to be in a different way in... and to live differently in... Because he is not satisfied with every-day, real, rational recognition he keeps searching for the way to enter the essence of a given phenomenon, linking analytical vision with synthetic reflection. Narrowing the frame to a hand, its fragment or its fingerprint lines is the search for the traces of specificity, of what is its original discriminant, its "differentia specifica" which is thought to be the discriminant of art among other artistic objects (artefacts, to be precise). He does not identify his passion of creation (discovering in photography and creativity in painting) with the happiness of creation because creation may also be a hard-laboured effort, even a nightmare... Similarly the fruit of the effort of creation or discovery does not have to be prettiness, and even if it is beauty it is rarely confirmed by appreciation. Salij uses mostly shadows in his photographs, he employs light only to a small degree, or rather employs its remnants, its gleams... Essential reality is rather hidden and we can only glimpse it, reveal it only partly... We rather believe in it than get to know it. We accept many truths on someone else's authority. But often, recently more often than before, we do not believe in them completely and we look for truths on our own. Such an attitude is absolutely necessary where art is concerned. Salij has been a believer in this attitude for a long time and his works are authentic traces of his extremely personal journey towards art. This journey does not take place on a comfortable motorway but on a path the artist treads and creates in a thicket of the unknown. Only from time to time he met great artists on his path and delighted in his meeting them, but he has been going farther alone, without a guarantee of getting to... That is why I believe that his art, visually rooted strongly in the concrete of the reality photographed, possesses symbolic qualities which become symbolic in its indeterminacy. Salij and his works constantly deny that photography is an objective image of surrounding reality. It is not the photographic camera that takes pictures (although such is often the case), but a human being who uses the camera in order to register his reflections on reality and his interpretations of it. (...)
(A fragment of a review: "For Olek Salij", in: Gazeta Ostrowiecka 52/1999.)
translated by Maciej ¦wierkocki
Look also - Fototapeta: Aleksander Salij - ¦lady.
Copyright ©1999 Aleksander Salij, Galeria FF £DK