Magdalena Spasowicz was a pupil of Jan Cybis, an eminent kapist. This was the name given to the members of the group of Polish painters completing their studies in Paris, at the branch of the Academy of Fine Arts of Cracow, established and supervised by Professor Pankiewicz. It is thanks to this group that the Polish art of painting freed itself from the fossilized tradition perpetuated by the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. The kapists turned to the tradition of impressionism, represented at the time by the post-impressionism of their idol, Bonnard.
Nowadays, to use Malraux's metaphor, the museum of the imagination is accompanied by the museum of the mind. In his famous essay “Paragraphs of Conceptual Art” in Art Forum of 1976, Sol LeWitt differentiated between conceptual art and visual art. The aesthetics of beauty had already been discussed by Kant, who set the sensual, the visual against the sublime, against that which surpasses our imagination. This new tendency of not engaging the emotions, of indirectly experiencing contact with the real, empirical world that surrounds us which is perceived sensually – art meant not for the eye but for the mind – has met with growing approval. It is neither accident nor some whim of a group of artists. This new museum of virtual reality is imposed on us by the surrounding contemporary world of high-tech electronic media. It is a world of computer ani-mation, electronic editing, a world in which, when looking at the screen, we are unable to differentiate between an image of empiricalreality and the result of technological manipulation. A long time ago Kazimierz Malewicz wrote in his book “Gegenstandliche Welt” that we are coming to a desert: everything that defined the objective, conceptual structure of life and art – notions, images, ideas – is rejected.
It is not, however, true that the natural world can be wholly replaced with an artificial, virtual world of electronic media. This can not be achieved even by the most perfect technology. Nature, for which Jean Jacques Rousseau so longed, is still the object of our longing, the more so as civilization forces it out of our reality. It is worth remembering that the impressionist movement was the first significant gesture of urban man expressing his need to return to the lost Eden of nature.
Few contemporary artists can satisfy this longing. They are few because contemporary man devotes too much time to computerreality to find the energy needed for direct contact with nature.
Magdalena Spasowicz is an example of the artist who succeeded in avoiding virtual reality, who succeeded in finding that seemingly lost Eden, that which is natural for us, which can be seen with the naked eye and which can be described as really existing for us. The more we long for this world, the further we recede from it. Magdalena Spasowicz's paintings are mainly landscapes, sometimes with figures. Usually these figures are not separate from their surroundings; they are an integral part of them, as if inherent to them.
It is a world of sensual beauty, the play of light, colour, and the lushness of nature, which we were unable to subordinate to our technical civilization. A world of nature free from restrictions. The lush, rich nature we often experience only during short holidays; a landscape we admire and under whose spell we fall, deriving pleasure from merely watching it.
Magdalena Spasowicz's art is sensual par excellence. It is the first museum of the imagination not to be replaced by the new museum, the museum of the mind, just as the empirical world is not to be replaced by the virtual world. It is true that today we cannot do without contemporary technology with its media and sophisticated gadgets. It is equally true that there is no need to replace the one world with the other. We need this refreshing contact with nature.
We realize all this while in the thrall of Magdalena Spasowicz's painting – the painting of the lost pleasure of observing, of the pleasure given by visual art.
Jan Świdziński