Lukasz Opalinski 'Indulgence'
An appreciation by Robin Dutt

Clearly inspired by nature, Opalinski finds a literally endless source of ideas. This is not perhaps a new stance. Throughout the ages, creators of all kinds have been drawn to the  fascinating and inexplicable variety of nature and its way of constantly surprising humankind. Try to touch it, it is gone. Try to explain it, it will elude if not confound. Try to tame it and it might wreak a terrible revenge - eventually.

Boethius writes of stars still keeping "their ancient place." The visionary poet, William Blake is celebrated for his work praising the power, wonder and harmonic juxtaposition of nature. "Did he who make the lamb make thee?" he asks of the fearsome Tiger, "burning bright." Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit priest-poet saw the hand of the creator in every element of nature from the speckles on trout to the flash off finches’ wings. He begged, "let them be left, let them be left. Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."

The lure to celebrate nature is bred in the bone for Opalinski and is especially relevant in the times we live in now witnessing the greatest threat to the environment from contemporary humankind and yet the most globally concerted effort to redress the malice and greed which takes the silent planet for granted. Opalinski realises the importance of nature and its increasing significance and translates a boy-like wonder of natural objets trouvés - spiky sea moss thistles, multi-holed gloss-sheen leaves, speckle-grainy feathers and fortress shells into startling, very contemporary and yet very futuristic pieces, reliant on nature as a timeless and unfathomable inspiration.

“(Nature) always changes. It’s always moving and is naturally reborn." he opines. "Nature always finds a way and we can only watch it. We’ve got no influence over it whatsoever - we think we're in control of certain things now but we are far too small to be able to do that." In recognising the omnipotence of the seemingly indifferent world, naturally Opalinski is hinting at the arrogance of man. So, his work is something of a celebration, an appreciation - even perhaps- a tangible, three-dimensional paean to a nameless creator who has from the beginning of time been given countless names. Appreciating the symmetry and asymmetry which is such a part of nature’s essence, Opalinski's work is similarly a harmonic balance of one and the other - once again, a juxtaposition of harmony and at the same time- an efficacious harmonic juxtaposition. An apparent contradiction. In general - and throughout time - whether the relative (although magnificent) crudeness of Stonehenge, the mathematical perfection of ancient Egypt’s lotus pillared temples and gilded pyramids and right up to the sky scraping Art Deco experimentations such as the Chrysler Building or Kuala Lumpar’s Petronas Towers - symmetry has been pursued.

But in Opalinski’s work and part of the reason why his pieces seem so vital and alive, is the fact that he addresses an imperfect perfection which hints at the individuality of personality in even inanimate objects which pay a concentrated and pure homage to anonymous, living sources where each flower is a dancer in the breeze, each leaf a whisper on the wind.

"Creating something symmetrical is natural for human beings because as we look at ourselves in the mirror, we can see that our bodies are symmetrical," says Opalinski.

Starting at an early age, sketching geometrical shapes and cell-like structures - so much the unseen but ultimate reality of what links humanity to all life forms and in fact- all matter. Everything, animate or inanimate is made up of particles which can be reduced to anonymous micro structures. These, the artist originally sketched in the back of his exercise book during lessons, unobserved by teachers or his peers. Perhaps it is thanks to the tedium of these lessons that Opalinski began to commune silently with the nature he saw bursting and being beyond the school room window pane.

In his static-mercurial piece, "Indulgence", Opalinksi addresses several elements that can be identified as his design and creation hallmarks, whether they take the form of celebrating line and form or highlighting seeming perfection and perceived imperfection - these two of course, interchangeable in the eye of the beholder. In essence, in choice of material, in terms of its presentation, like two diametrically opposed entities being brought and then fused together, "Indulgence" is the perfect and emblematic motif that might be said to typify the artist’s personality as well as his purpose. From spreading stems and root-like structures (echoing, perhaps, the Belle Époque or Art Nouveau), the piece evolves into a sleek slab of polished aluminium, more at home on another planet and made for some cyber queen of a superior race. On the other hand, in a most down to earth and natural way the piece suggests a harmonic line between three elements - water, earth and air.
"I think ‘indulgence’ is a self-explanatory word that obviously might mean different things to different people. For me, it has a lot (to do) with self satisfaction, with comfort, with well-being, with feeling - positive and good." And whilst it is surely a given that everything must be open to interpretation, Opalinski is precise about quantifying the essence of the work.

"I see it as a plant that has its roots spread over one particular shape" he says "and although it reminds me of a kidney, it might also be a lily pad. It might just be a puddle of water or oil - or anything…I read it in a poetic way."

Robin Dutt
Art Critic and Author
January 2008



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