Critics’ Picks

Teresa TyszkiewiczASERET rouge I / ASERET Red I, 1982, assemblage, 26 1/4 x 37 3/4''. Photo: Anna Zagrodzk.

Teresa TyszkiewiczASERET rouge I / ASERET Red I, 1982, assemblage, 26 1/4 x 37 3/4''. Photo: Anna Zagrodzk.


Teresa Tyszkiewicz

Muzeum Sztuki | MS2
Ogrodowa 19 St.
May 29–September 13, 2020

In Hollis Frampton’s mesmerizing 1963 photograph of Lee Lozano, the artist smiles coyly behind a workbench arrayed with screws, cogs, clamps, and bullets—objects that would become the anthropomorphized and hyperreal forms on her large-format canvases. Similar assortments of tools—screws, steel rods, saws, and pins—permeate the work of the multidisciplinary artist Teresa Tyszkiewicz, who passed away earlier this year. Born in 1953 in Ciechanów, she left martial-law Poland in 1982 for France, where she began fastening pins, sometimes covered in thick acrylic paint, cotton, wool, or horsehair, onto canvas, paper, sheet metal, and wood. “This poor object became magical to me,” the artist once said. “The prick, the resistance and the urge to overcome it.” Practiced day after day, the repetitive gesture of pinning produced the tactile reliefs that comprise the heart of this exhibition. On monumental vertical paintings, up to thirty thousand pins—the smallest props in Tyszkiewicz’s dramaturgy of pain—accumulate in wavelike organic forms painted in black, bloody red, blue, or gold.

Rather than inhabit the pose of the artist as engineer or constructor, Tyszkiewicz conducted intimate ceremonies in the erotics of organic matter, wrapping her own body in raw cotton, covering it in a mucus-like substance, immersing it in grains, soil, and cooked pasta. Videos such as Day After Day, 1980; Grain, 1980; Breathe, 1981; and the posthumously debuted ARTA, 1984/2019, follow from the vicissitudes of process rather than a predetermined script. In the latter work, shot in 1984 and edited a month and a half before the artist’s death, footage of Tyszkiewicz painting, pinning, and posing in androgynous garb is juxtaposed with an ecstatic simulated birth scene, her body covered in stringy noodles. In the video’s final moments, the artist’s infant daughter (for whom the work is named) appears in front of a black pinned relief: a condensation of Tyszkiewicz’s dialectics of sensuality and aggression, fragility and resilience.