“I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop”
OBA (Ryszard Grzyb, Marcin Osiowski) exhibition in HOS Gallery, 10.10 – 23.11. 2019 r.

The title of the exhibition is one of the opening sentences of Bohumil Hrabal’s novel Too Loud a Solitude. When the author published his book in 1976, he was the same age as Grzyb and Osiowski are today. The similarities between these artists manifest themselves as a distinctive sense of humour, a sensibility which combines wit with melancholy, and the experience of creative work in the shadow of Communist regimes. The connection between Hrabal and Grzyb and Osiowski can also be seen in their love for books – undiscovered worlds created through literature and philosophy. In the works of each painter, the written word plays a significant role: it inspires them to paint, stimulates their imagination, and provokes them into philosophical contemplation or a more careful observation of the use of language in the everyday life. Because these interests are reflected in the duo’s most recent 2019 works and their individual achievements shown at this exhibition, the paintings feature many direct references to mythology as well as the works and lives of such creators as Georg Trakl, Ludwig Wittgenstein or Plato.

Grzyb has been writing poetry since secondary school, and he believes it to be a form of expression equivalent to painting. In the 2000s, he created images for which he invented the working term “written paintings” as they are based on connecting the visual form with textual quotations drawn from diverse sources. Meanwhile, Osiowski has been recording his thoughts on culture, art, social relations and personal experiences in the form of loose notes, which became the foundation of the artistic action The Milking of Van Gogh last year. Both their individual paintings and the ones created as OBA are inspired by Grzyb’s and Osiowski’s readings. They use the written word as an element of composition. Words appear in various constellations, they blend and intersect, changing fonts and sizes. The linguistic message behind the painted words, and their typographic shape are equally important vehicles of content and emotion. In terms of their formal characteristics and their meaning, the paintings are made from equal parts of words and paint. The words which appear on the surface of the canvas escape literality. Instead, enriched with colour and texture, they are enmeshed in new contexts and messages.

The relationship between the signs’ graphic form and the network of meanings sometimes becomes evident through the titles of the paintings, which are often quotations from other literary works or song lyrics. They perform the significant role of connecting the artists and the audience. Although hidden on the other side of the canvas, the titles are components of the paintings which help the viewer to unveil new meanings of the visual level. They are catalysts for ambiguity, association, and unrestricted excursions of imagination. Both Hrabal’s novel and the paintings presented at the exhibition combine jest with gravity, and realism with magic and surrealism. Hrabal’s book is said to be poetry written in prose. Grzyb and Osiowski’s works are poetry written in image.