CHAOS IS MY NAME
Sinking , 2021, oil on canvas, 80x90cm
According to Greek mythology chaos is an impenetrable abyss, full of creative forces and divine elements, almost like disordered composition, dark and heavy. A mixture of earth, water, fire and air. In Taoism, however, chaos is understood as something that is not yet fully shaped, but at the same time it is something from which the universe ultimately arises. Chaos complements here with order, like a woman with a man, where the female element is equated with chaos.
Chaos is understood today in rather negative terms. It is associated with anxiety, mess, dirt, war. To me, it has little to do with the image of woman. The way I see it, women have been bringing order to chaos, especially to the chaos of everyday life, for centuries. They take care of the fundamental things. However, it is not for me to judge, as I too am chaos. I therefore prefer the interpretation in which I am the cosmos. I give shape to matter yet undefined, I traverse the world in my “formlessness,” I become harder day by day, life comes out of me.
Nurse log , 2021, 80x70cm + 80x35cm, oil on canvas + embroidery on canvas
The photographs present the exhibition titled Chaos Is My Name which currently takes place at MOS in Gorzów Wielkopolski, and will last till 16th April 2023r.
In her exhibition entitled Chaos Is My Name, Daria Pietryka invites us to embark on a shared journey, which, while raising important subjects, is somehow underlined with darkness and uncertainty. Through her art, she introduces us to the realities of the contemporary world, highlighting step by step the problems plaguing it. Alternatively, it may be perceived as more of a reflection, sifted through her own experiences and gradually revealed to us in a very bittersweet way.
In almost every work Pietryka smuggles a bit of her own private world. It is not a vivisection, of course, but a deep and filtered thought on subjects that she finds important and that in principle concern each of us. In the case of the featured works, virtually each of them contains a reference to the artist’s private life – a book she has just read, the music she is listening to or a story she has heard. But also – and this is important – to the political, social, ideological and economic situation. Reality is mixed here with fiction, fairy tale with nightmare, happiness with uncertainty. And in any case, it is done in a visually striking way. Based on her own visual language, the artist tells us about universal truths that have recently made themselves painfully clear to us – the climate crisis, global armed conflicts, violations of women’s rights or migration and the social perception of the Other. It is therefore an elaborate story about humans and humanity, individuals and community, solitude and sacrifice, but also – crucially, perhaps – about a world made up of opposing driving forces, those of creation and destruction, which maintain the balance of our fragile universe.
The exhibition has been divided into several parts, each reflecting a particular stage of the Wrocławian artist’s work or her fascination with a particular theme. It thus consists of several painting series created over the last five years, which have been presented together in one place for the first time. Three fundamentally distinctive motifs can be singled out here – woman and motherhood, nature and cyclicality, and fears and anxieties, arranged by the artist in such a way as to converge at various, sometimes unapparent points. Of course, one could write extensively about both the exhibition and the painter’s work. However, it is also worth trying to decode the hidden meanings in the works on one’s own. For the truths they contain are extremely universal and all of them touch each of us on a daily basis, which is why we can find a piece of ourselves in each of the paintings.
Snapdragon , 2022, 130x100cm, oil on canvas
Oni, 2022, 140x180cm, oil on canvas
A word ‘Oni’ means in Polish langusge ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘the others’. But word ‘Oni’ also refers to the demons of Japanese mythology and folklore. Evil spirits known for their ruthlessness, terror, associated with disease, calamity and misfortune. Oni in my painting are in a way strangers. I imagine them as fears sitting in our heads. As a rule, we are afraid of unknowns. We sometimes develop stories about creatures or people we do not know, fabrications that often do not translate into reality – therefore ‘they’ become ‘Oni’. ‘They’, we imagine, will bring chaos into our ‘arranged’ lives. ‘They’ pose a potential threat.
The starting points for painting the above canvas were mainly two thoughts that have been accompanying me for some time now. The second one (I will start in a non-chronological manner because it translates into the form of my work) was the refugee crisis that takes place on the Polish-Belarusian border, lasting from 2021 till this day (and I am writing these words in mid-May 2022). The first thought was on the other hand, the fear that a parent feels for her/his own child, trying to keep them safe: Times are uncertain. What if we had to flee from our country due to the war, repressions, climate crisis? What if we were seen elsewhere as Oni?
I am observing as the grass grows , 2022, 73x70cm, embroidery on canvas
Conversations over the Cauldron, 2023, 140x180cm, oil on canvas + embroidery on canvas
GO, 2021, 90x150cm, oil on canvas
The dual nature of experience is sometimes striking, which is why I look at the two compositions (Conversations over the Cauldron and GO) as one whole, a bit like a Ying and a Yang. There is bitterness and serenity, sadness and joy, loneliness and community. Therefore, I will only talk about the works contained in this room from one perspective – the other, perhaps, will reveal itself:
The diptych Conversations over the Cauldron has its roots in the ethnographic Sources Magazine on Polish Radio’s
Channel Two, in chambers filled by women embroidering and singing folk chants, in being together and being with each
other, in a gathering of witches over a bubbling cauldron, in suffragettes fighting for voting rights and in pissed-off women
marching together during the black marches of 2016 and the women’s strikes of 2020. They need to re-
The work I Disappear was created in 2019–2020 (oil on canvas – 2019, assemblage – 2020) and does not belong to the
series Chaos Is My Name. Nevertheless, it is its founding mother. The work was created as part of the series Between Us (2018–2020).