Joanna Ciechanowska

Broken RainbowBroken Rainbow installationBroken Rainbow installationBroken Rainbow installationBroken Rainbow Poster

Broken Rainbow

Oil on canvas, 2 x 2 metres.

UNIT 24 Gallery, London

Part of ‘FORMAT VI COLLECTIVE’ exhibition in UNIT 24 Gallery, 24 Great Guildford Street, London, 8 Nov- 7 Dec 2011.

‘Joanna Ciechanowska proves with her canvases that scale in painting is clearly no problem for her. Her visual imagery deals in the big contemporary themes of our age. On the one hand there is that of ‘Climate Change’ as exemplified in a series developed from her travels to the Arctic Circle and concerns for the wildlife of the north, on the other, in a number of paintings called ‘Broken Rainbow’ our current universal alarm at global economic collapse. In this she is hardly alone artistically. Indeed ‘Haze’, the recent production by the Beijing Dance Theatre at Sadlers Wells addressed both these themes simultaneously as ‘a creative response to economic and environmental crises’ on a score of Gorecki’s ‘Sorrowful Songs’ in his ‘Symphony No.3’ which poignantly links us once again to Poland.

The version of ‘Broken Rainbow’ exhibited in Format VI Collective stems from the idea of Falling Man, a figure to be seen elsewhere in Ciechanowska’s paintings. From a distance he is outlined as a large but incomplete red silhouette, head first downwards on a transparent loose illegible weaving of large grey letters beyond which is deep luminous space.

This is art which has the virtue of good structural composition from afar rewarded by close inspection of details within. In this respect she is in good company, be it with Raqib Shaw, mentioned above, though mercifully without his kitsch viscerally self-indulgent obsessions or, more appositely, Grayson Perry, the potter in a frock who calls himself Alice, within whose seductive vases one finds the dark secrets of society.

In Ciechanowska’s case the kernel of her picture lies in a small newspaper cutting concerning an unfortunate banker who leaps to his death from a high window. He is indeed the Falling Man who has broken his own rainbow and maybe ours too. We can see him reiterated repeatedly in tiny black figures falling through space within the canvas. Another recurring bugbear of contemporary Western society can be found in little images of Muslims at prayer and standing Imams, the kind of provocative sources Ciechanowska’s art attempts to encourage us to engage in’.

– John Jukes Johnson ‘Only Connect’ , ‘Nowy Czas’ – October 2011.