June 20–27, 2020
Magdalena Karpińska had started a new series of large-format paintings before the lockdown. She continued her work during the pandemic, in the abruptly transformed context and conditions. The sunshine had suddenly gone – it turned out that the good times were over.
Painted in the evening light, Karpińska's paintings have something of taming anxiety. The whole series focuses on plant care, which for many has become a form of coping with the daunting reality. "Watering I", "Watering II", "Cutting with secateurs", "The glove", "The cobweb" – the titles have the ring of mantras evoking simple and familiar actions that may help bring some peace of mind.
Plant care and gardening help to repress the ever-present sense of guilt that appears when we blame ourselves for passivity, uselessness, and hidden egoism. Taking care of plants, similar to taking care of our body and helping others, may give us a momentary release from that haunting sense of guilt.
The inspiration for one of the paintings is a poster of First Blood – a movie from 1982, the first of the Rambo series. In the painting, Rambo holds a grain sheaf instead of a rifle – at dusk, or in the moonlight, he looks like a romantic sower. In the artist's memory, Rambo: First Blood refers to times when, as children, we all carried an image of the male war in our imagination. The new Rambo – dressed in a "first crop" – becomes a modern-day hero/heroine.