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The hand-stitched painting of ML Poznanski
la-peinture-cousue-main-de-ml-poznanski - ARTACTIF
June 2024 | Reading time: 23 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the entry of ML Poznanski into the stable of the young Lo Brutto Stahl gallery, rue des Vertus in Paris.

There's a lot going on in this fabric painting, but it's like it's being revisited by a ghost in the window. Full of bars or scars. Of suffocation and great gulps of freedom. The Parisian art gallery Lo Brutto Stahl has just added artist and stylist ML Poznanski to its stable, whose striking works of art for sale it showed at the end of 2023-beginning of 2024. I do not know. Tight wires, live panels. Sensation of confinement or on the contrary burst of light... I loved discovering. Reading his article in Artpress this month, I believe that art critic Guillaume Oranger does too. “This winter, ML Poznanski’s solo exhibition at the Lo Brutto Stahl gallery in Paris, Children of Omerta, signaled all the maturity of his late debut,” he writes straight away. Referring to the painter living in the stylist, who first created her label Panocticum, after having developed her taste for textiles by joining, here at an early age, at the age of 17, the Fine Arts section of Central Saint Martins , in London.

A little biographical point? ML Poznanski was born in 1984 in Hull, United Kingdom. She now lives and works between Warsaw, London and Antwerp. As well as studying Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins, she also studied Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. Coming from a multidisciplinary background involving theater, music, performance and clothing making in his youth, Poznanski's painting work brings a political dimension to a more complex physical encounter with techniques of sewing, embroidery and hand dyeing subtly incorporated into his pictorial compositions. The laborious process of making constellations from the fragmented fabric, collected informally from his grandparents in Warsaw and then galvanized with a palette of diluted earthy colors, imbued his images with a vague memory of personal experience and fictionalized reality . The painted figures typically evoke feelings of longing and loss, decontextualized from history and narratives through the material order in his work. Poznanski explores the mechanism of collective memories and the structure of individual consciousness by staging and deconstructing the banal existences of objects and stories to situate and move in time and space.

The work of ML Poznanski (don't ask me what the initials ML mean, I haven't found the answer anywhere, so if you know, I'd like the info) begins in a studio in Warsaw, where linen scraps are collected from the ground, before being hand-dyed and sewn to create canvases. Nothing new under the sun, only the growing pain of metamorphosis. Before the paint reaches the canvas, the measure of hours cannot be counted and is buried in the folds of the fabric.

  “Making paintings is intertwined with the artist's parallel engagement as a clothing designer; these threads constitute the weft and warp of the larger work. In the making, there are severed hands, and sometimes there is a severed face. There are a lot of nosebleeds and above all there is a refusal to give in to dictates: to speed, to systems, to silkiness,” writes author Clodagh Kinsella superbly. “As if childhood is where everything is polarized, and everything that happens afterward will be dictated by the images that are posed at that moment. Something from this subjunctive position, familiar to the artist, will find its place in the work, which will be forced to return to the image bank of childhood and adolescence, despite the potential terrors that could lurk there. (teenage parties in tones reminiscent of a Monster energy drink). Strength is the most astonishing quality of dyed linen, whose threads hold paintings together despite the ever-present threat of centrifugal forces. And despite the centripetal forces, for the work maintains a tension: sometimes it seems as if the sewing dictates the scenes in the paintings, the threads weaving stories; and sometimes the very sketched appearance of the scenes defies premeditation, becoming something only on the canvas. Through the folds of the canvas, something is given and retained. Connections are not entirely encountered by bodies in space; the planes of color only isolate, and the fourth wall breaks. The figures fall into an origami universe. The folds of matter enclose the folds of the soul. »

ML Poznanski's work reminds me of elements of the aesthetic and artistic approach of other contemporary artists who explore memory, identity and materiality through their work. I think of Anselm Kiefer who, like Poznanski, incorporates textured materials and laborious processes into his works to explore deep themes related to history, memory, and spirituality. I think of Louise Bourgeois, who shares with Poznanski a fascination with the process of transformation and the exploration of emotions and personal experiences through art, often using textiles and sewing. But I also think of Doris Salcedo, who explores collective memory and the impact of violence and loss through sculptural installations often integrating textile materials and sewing techniques, creating a tactile and emotional dimension similar to that of Poznanski. Finally, I cannot ignore Kiki Smith, who addresses themes such as the body, femininity and spirituality through a wide variety of mediums, including sculpture, drawing and printmaking. His use of organic materials and artisanal techniques can indeed sometimes recall Poznanski's approach.

The art critic signing the very factual article in Artpress magazine conscientiously noted four modes of manufacturing pictorial space in Poznanski's work based on the observation of the works of art for sale seen at the gallery Lo Brutto Stahl art. Three of them would therefore correspond to a first mode. They were made of sections of fabric sutured to each other: once vertically, with a clearly visible suture participating in the rhythm of the pictorial space, and twice horizontally, on the contrary going almost unnoticed.

“According to a second method of production, strips of fabric, this time with wavy edges, form a syncopated space which seems, in Untitled (2023), to intersect two images, as if the second was what the face which saw occupies the first. The two images appear to the viewer alternately, in a sort of flashing, ultimately playing against each other. In Big Hands, Big Heart (2023), on the contrary, the cutouts encircle the components of a simple, united image, which the suture harmonizes. »

Guillaume Oranger places in a third mode of production the paintings where “the fabric is gathered into fine folds sewn at their base, forming relief, a dent in the surface. The fabric then seems to expose its own nature, in a nod to the curtain thus drawn in front of the image; it evokes, more poetically, the quivering of a body of water as the wind passes. This third style accentuates, at the same time as its textile nature, the inaccessibility of the painted image, now equipped with recesses, shadows, engulfed parts which require the viewer to adjust their distance to pierce through like a fog. »

And finally, “the fourth way of making the canvas, this one used only once in the exhibition, is even more surprising: the center of the painting is almost “normal” (almost, since wavy strips are still sewn there, discreetly, horizontally), while around it, the image is painted not on woven wire but simply stretched. The table produces the effect of an emanation of the wires from the center, quasi-solar radiation. The rays, therefore, of this work, Untitled (Play) (2023), present characters fixed there like ghosts, the shapes of one of them extending into the center, where they appear denser. This technique, if it still distinguishes two regimes of the image, this time seems to place them in a relationship of complicity rather than competition. »

Since I recently spoke to you about the return to favor of textiles on the contemporary art market, here is yet another wonderful example that I warmly invite you to discover!


Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: Portrait of ML Poznanski - Lo Brutto Stahl gallery


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