The background of a picture consists of a limited variety of colours, either homogenous or with minimal tonal gradations; the surface of a paper and its folded segments remain slightly visible. Subdued shades of yellow, blue, grey, red and black are prevalent; on it – the juxtapositions of different shapes, cut from paper or painted in black, broad brushstrokes. If geometric abstraction is the first thing that comes to our mind, it means that we haven’t looked carefully enough. These figures and forms do not evade figuration or the imitation of nature, quite the opposite – they are their essence. Each fragment of the picture becomes an exercise in colour, a slow, albeit impatient, investigation into different relationships to the world. Art history remembers such circumstances very well: painting nature exactly as it is seen, those quiet earth tones with a distinct mood. This is where abstraction will prove helpful after all – with its Latin etymology meaning “separation”. As soon as we separate ourselves, stop looking for the subject of a painting or its figuration and focus solely on the colour palette, we will recognize striking similarities to the Barbizon School of painters.
When examined from a broader perspective, Moskal’s oeuvre maintains great consistency – his simple forms and a restricted choice of colours originate from the careful observation of the world followed by efforts to rewrite it as a minimalistic gesture. His works are seldom given a title, as they persistently tell a story about the same thing – ways of seeing and perception – while trying to capture and build a certain mood. It is likely that Walter Benjamin would have used the term ‘aura’ here; every image has a point of reference, some “here and now”, an experience. One could also mention uniqueness and permanence, as well as the celebration of the object and its charm. In one of the works from the series, there is an attempt to capture the moment when a flock of pigeons ascend and rapidly change the direction of their flight – the moment of stopping in mid-air. What is to be seen then? Neither single birds nor any details, but only shapes, figures, forms – forms that can never be repeated in exactly the same way.
The series Cool Grey Meets Neutral Black is another part of a story about seeing, about translating stimuli into simple forms and colours. It can be also understood as an exercise in painting from nature or a test of spatial relationships. Although we are not sure how perception exactly works, the meeting of cold grey with neutral black has surely took place once. Its aura and appeal are what remains today.
[Zofia Maria Cielątkowska]
Mikołaj Moskal, Cool Grey Meets Neutral Black
26.09 – 14.11.2015
Starter Gallery, Andersa 13, Warsaw
Opening was part of Warsaw Gallery Weekend