Anna Orbaczewska’s works originate in photography. However, the artist’s assumption is not the photorealistic rendering as such. On the contrary. It is rather a disbelief in the objective vision. A constant search for the accurate picture of what she has seen, experienced and recorded.
The inspiration in photography is plain to see here at first glance. The leading motives of the paintings elicit the images of a photographic account of family holidays – the loved ones, children, pets set against picturesque landscapes in their background. Ordinary situations, clichéd frames but somehow still intriguing. Yet they make us also feel somewhat embarrassed.
What appears to be embarrassing is the sense the images had been peeped. Captured by accident, from a hiding place, from a distance. We are peeking from behind of completely oblivious characters. The people in the pictures keep staring at something visible only for themselves. They behave naturally, often somehow clumsily, as they are not posing. They seem to be immersed in a private world, without knowing they are being watched.
We find intriguing the naturalism and the voyeur’s perspective, which arises the embarrassing but so very human curiosity of somebody else’s life. It is enhanced by the mood of the works - intimate, nostalgic and full of suspense.
For the paintings are pervaded with a kind of unexplainable anxiety. The artist highlights that its source lies in the photographic archetype – the photograph with ‘Barthes’s wound’, which downrightly reinforces the painting transposition.
Thus, she paints realistically, tangibly, sensually but only to some degree. Eventually, she obscures the captured vision – unnaturally lights it up, enhances contrasts, smudges the lines. The real picture becomes blurry on the outlines, gets abstract, completely disappears at some parts.
Yet once again Anna Orbaczewska arranges her paintings in the cycle titled “Then”. Although the title sounds ambiguous, somehow it naturally brings back memories. These, however, tend to be blurred, fragmentary, obscure – as the images in Orbaczewska’s paintings. At the same time, the artist emphasises that even the perception of the moments recorded in photographs continuously changes.
In her painting, Orbaczewska expresses these subjectively perceived changes. Nevertheless, she does not settle for her own perception. She also questions the point of any superficial and homogenous interpretations of reality. She frequently refers to the factors imposed on us – the perspectives predetermined by culture, the social system of roles and norms, which ultimately do not define the real meaning of life.
Perhaps that is why she finds inspiration in nature? And in children as well. Perhaps for the sake of their unique, naïve perception of the world and the sensitive, outwardly natural, primal code of conduct ?
Nature is a separate subject of the latest Orbaczewska’s paintings – seaside landscapes, sky-views, or a study of a rock ‘emerging from the sea’. The mood of the works is rather different from the figurative ones. They are permeated by peace and contemplation. These paintings ease the existential anxiety. Nature appears to be here a place of respite, the very much wished-for secluded spot, a retreat.
Gerard Richter emphasised that ‘Seeing naturally does not satisfy us, therefore we are painters’, and the idea is unquestionably essential to Anna Orbaczewska.
The artist seems notorious in her habitual return to the very moments captured in time. She transforms them, multiplies, enlivens on canvas, and accordingly deconstructs, reduces to abstract terms and synthesises. She does not trust the objective perception. She constantly reworks her emotions, feelings and thoughts evoked by a certain moment. And simultaneously she aims at reaching the source, the core of her experiences. A common ground for ‘then’ and ‘now’.