"The artist, in creating art,
involuntarily becomes the essence of art itself,
drawing from it and from himself,
pursuing it and himself,
escaping from it and from himself
by creating with his whole self
until he dissolves into
the boundless ocean of art."
Cezary Bodzianowski, 2023
Cezary Bodzianowski's works and actions are subtle interventions into the existing reality. In an extraordinarily intelligent and ironic way, they highlight unintended contexts or point out paradoxes of clichés and habits that we have ceased to notice.
In the case of the objects created by Bodzianowski, he reaches for trivial, banal things, which he extracts from the mundanity of their functioning and gives them poetic shapes and meanings. Found objects, inconspicuous, far from our interest, are highlighted and redescribed by Cezary.
Within the Herbalife exhibition, Cezary Bodzianowski shows objects created mainly from the collected teabags brewed daily, as well as the destructions of sometimes undefined, ordinary objects. On the top floor of the gallery, films are presented - recorded by Monika Chojnicka-Bodzianowska - Love shows the creation of the works, Afternoon Tea, the celebration of tea drinking, and Tea Back a performance from 2011 in Bristol.
Express tea bags have appeared consistently from the very beginning in Cezary Bodzianowski's work. In 1993, in Antwerp, he arranged dominoes out of used and unused teabags, inevitably heading towards tea brewed in glasses. Created during a residency in Belgium, the work was lost in a flood and was recalled by Cezary in 2011 in the work Produit la nuit prepared for the exhibition 'The Other Tradition' at the WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels. In the film recorded by Monika Chojnicka-Bodzianowska, the artist visits a fortune teller who tries to decipher the fate of the lost objects from a glass ball.
Also in 2011, as part of a solo exhibition at Spike Island, Bristol Cezary Bodzianowski walked the streets of the city dressed as a teabag. The performance, ironically mocking one form of controversial contemporary marketing, referred primarily to the city's colonial past, where slaves from the overseas possessions of the United Kingdom arrived on ships carrying tea and sugar. The film, along with other works, was shown at an institution based in a former tea sorting plant owned by the producer of England's most popular tea, PG Tips.
The brew, with its exotic provenance, is now stripped of its colour and, in its cheapest so-called 'express' version, is mundane and banal. From the tea he drinks every day, Cezary retains the dyed teabags and strips them of their brand - the cardboard label attached to the strings. He highlights the object itself, so commonplace that it goes unnoticed, yet associated with some moment of repose, of stopping, of momentary meditation as in Afternoon Tea.
Cezary Bodzianowski (b. 1966) - lives and works in Łódź. Between 1988 and 1990 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, and then between 1990 and 1994 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In 2004 he received the Paszport Polityki award. From 2011 to 2012 he was a DAAD Artist in Residence fellow in Berlin. The Museum of Art in Łódź awarded Cezary Bodzianowski the Katarzyna Kobro Prize in 2014. Bodzianowski's works and events have been presented as part of: The 10th Gwangju Biennale (2014); the solo retrospective exhibition This Place is Called the Hole/This Place is Called the Hole, Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (2012) and Museum of Art in Lodz (2013); 'Bodzianowski, Konieczny, Warpechowski, Uklanski', Museum of Art in Lodz (2011); 'Le Promesses du passe', Centre Pompidou. Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris (2010); 5th Berlin Biennale für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Berlin (2008); Flying Helmet The World as a Stage, Tate Modern, London (2007). Cezary Bodzianowski collaborates with the Foksal Gallery Foundation and Milan's Zero gallery.
Cezary Bodzianowski, Herbalife, 2023, exhibition view, Foksal Gallery Foundation, photo Marek Gardulski