"(...) Art shares similarities with logic, mathematics, and, as well, science. But whereas the other endeavors are useful, art is not. Art indeed exists for its own sake."
Joseph Kosuth's words written in his famous manifest article "Art After Philosophy"(1969) correspond to the art trend and thought of Maria Wasilewska's interests and artistic intuition. Her research, where she abandons traditional matter of art, numerous inspirations, which the artist finds in the world of science and philosophy, and also attempts of "touching" what is immaterial and absent, all these constitute the core of spiritual elements in her art.
Means to achieve this are the use of light (but not as the source of lighting) as the matter of art and carrier of its own existence. This is also an attempt of the dematerialization of sensations and impressions which we go under.
Creations of pictures in the illusory space and also creation of the space itself, together with possibility of destroying them by the use of a simple action, for example, by the momentary termination of projection.
Psycho-philosophical attitude in such a perception of a process and participation on a greater scale in it includes automatically in perception of the work of art other layers of consciousness such as dreams or spiritual life.
All the means mentioned here constitute the notional character of art, which, in my opinion, is the most important condition for the every artistic output reinforced by the creative thought and achievements of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Kosuth in the 20th century.
The kind of art described here, which uses light as the specific matter and artistic technique, has its own followers and continuators, for example, deceased Antoni Miko³ajczyk or James Turrel, whose experiments must be close to those of Maria Wasilewska's. Maybe, the French artist of Polish origin, Piotr Kowalski could be a good example, too. What is common between Maria Wasilewska's works and those of John Turrel's? Maybe the starting point - interests in physical phenomena. And what differentiates these works? The independent means of expression and unique love and space recognition derived from Maria Wasilewska's interests in sculpture and her own experience in that matter of art.
Space, which is created and named by her 'time-space continuum' (drawing from notions of physics and philosophy), and also the relative reception and feelings attached to it make the work of Maria Wasilewska genuine, which I would call spiritual because it evokes such emotions. Classifying this kind of art as the visual art only would cause oversimplified categorization resulting from misunderstanding of a message.
The purity and precision of the measures taken, the perfect form and consequence render Maria Wasilewska's realizations excellent visual artistic installations. The methods used always lead to a profound thought. The contextual character of this art shows that the every use of a straight line, a geometric figure or even their deformations may serve other aims rather than aesthetic. The element of thought association changes a matter into an idea.
Returning to the citation at the beginning of my review, Kosuth resigns from traditional means of art such as painting, sculpture since they force "a priori concept of art's possibilities" (Art After Philosophy). Moreover, they make it impossible to break away from painting and sculpture tradition which limits the comprehension of art. Such an attitude is indispensable when we do not want to produce only the objects of art but make some steps further in search for it. All what happened in art in the 1970s originated from this philosophical thought. (...)
The analysis of Maria Wasilewska's art is a pleasure for me since for a long time I have been observing her ambitious searches and aspirations. She is an artist who raises high standards for herself, also the intelectual ones. It is a great pleasure to see her following her own intuition. She continuously makes perfect her methods and technique. The experience she gained lets her improve, step by step, the impressions I described at the beginning of this article. It is not an easy or known way and if she follows it, she is always condemned to loneliness and a limited audience.
The minimalizm leading to the use of the necessary means, asceticism and the lack of all the decorative elements ennoble this art and its assumptions. Someone, knowing only some of her works, could protest at this point since her project "ITERATIONS" is the most decorative world which can be followed by none of our imaginations. But, here, I find the proof for the once taken way of thought. The kaleidoscope is a simple children toy and at the same time the cosmos of unrepeatable sight sensations in uncountable number of events. The world of fairy tales and dreams, and the complete projection of the interior are all to discover, as the artist points out herself, the "overproduction". Her presentation is the self-made surrealistic machine, a kaleidoscope (a massive metal tube) which is turned around automatically producing these "wonders" or rather it "generates" (trying to use a modern language) them. In the final effect we see the huge kaleidoscope pictures transmitted by the video camera and a projector everywhere.
Is this a rattling toy or rather a philosophical entrance into the "cosmos"? As far as I am concerned, the second solution is an answer especially when I am surrounded by these pictures over my head and under my feet in the darkness.
Let us imagine the stopping of the tube and the picture for a moment (what actually happened during the exhibition) and next the long time continuity, which could last forever.
I was under the great impression of the event in two different situations based on various spatial solutions and uses. The second version of the project was called "PAUSA". These presentation cause a great impression thanks to their "purity" of a method; it eliminates all that could disturb the participation and the proper reception as well. Their unrepeatable features, like in the next work of the artist, when we go onto the steel mirrors on the soft floor with unconscious steps at the same time deformating it. They create the new effects of mirror reflections: hanged over our heads the horizontal lines (in fact, bars) in darkness are seen because of the use of luminescence phenomena.
I disclose here the secret of the basic method used but there is no other way to express my admiration for the method itself. I value most the methods applied as I am a sculptor myself. It must be mentioned that the works described here are accompanied by the discreet sound of swoosh of serve or the rattle of a broken glass in a kaleidoscope. (...)
The last work by Maria Wasilewska (ARTICULATIONS) results from the newest experiments concerning the use of light and illusion elements; it is an attempt of polemics with the reality.
This work is located in two adjacent gallery rooms which have been transformed by the use of sight-acoustic interventions. It is an introduction of a viewer into the world of imagination, when the space and its elements arrange a "theater" without obvious semantics. This is the theater where a viewer becomes active.
I will stop here in order not to disclose the work of its secret which guarantee art derived from spirit.
Maciej Szańkowski, 2008 r.