Our plans are often limited by various stereotypes, some of which are deeply ingrained. Of course I am not a fan of generalizations but everyday life inevitably influences us. When we listen to the radio, watch TV or read newspapers we fill our subconsciousness with things which in fact we oppose. Living in a hurry and being always on the run causes that we cannot keep a close eye on the way in which media, fashion and public opinion shape our world view. It seems a mere trifle but in fact we can't be sure whether we are right when we say that we are free from censorship because we live in the 21st century. We say so but unfortunately the reality is at odds with the “politically correct” norms. Media are much more interested in the art of artists from Western Europe than of those from Eastern Europe. Once my Dutch friend told me that he could be an outsider in Poland because he was doing well anyway. I replied that I need to work really a lot so that I could keep the status of an outsider. This is just a short anecdote from my life.
I know I don't need to write about all these things because this sort of introduction has little to do with the description of Green Gallery. It is only some sort of reflection connected with the realization of the project. After I submitted the first proposal I had to wait 15 years for the project to be carried out. I would still be waiting if I hadn't met Klara Kopcińska and Józef Żuk from Warsaw Gallery 2b. My proposal for creating Green Gallery in Praga Park was included in their project “transFORM on the Vistula.”
After the project of Green Gallery was accepted by the organizers I started to look for a crew of people who knew a lot about miniature paintings and who could work in a public space. This is when I faced the first problem. It turned out that most of my friends don't make miniature paintings and those few who do make them prefer to work in their studios. As a result, the group I had envisioned shrunk to two people: my friend, Katia Sokolowa-Zyzak from Moscow, and me.
We started the project at the end of June. At first we were careful – we wanted to check how passers-by would react, whether they would accept our work, whether they would be tolerant. We felt anxious because we were carrying out the first such project in Poland. Nobody had painted on the forms of plant life before and that's why we were ready to change the space and realize the project in a place which would be less busy and less conspicuous. To our surprise, the reactions of passers-by were very favorable. People were asking us who we were, what we were doing and whether we would make more paintings. They were saying that this Green Gallery was a great idea. We were 100% satisfied!
I encountered the first negative reaction only a week later, while I was working on several miniature paintings advertising the opening of Green Gallery in Praga Park on the other side of the Vistula. Some lady who was walking her dog threatened to call the police and conservationists. Without much thinking she came to conclusion that I was a vandal and I was damaging the trees. It was a little bit like the scene from this old Polish movie by Bareja in which the cleaning lady calls the customer who is buying meat a lout because every lout is a drunkard and every drunkard is a thief etc. I didn't pay too much attention to this furious lady and as a result I had to spend several weeks writing letters and explaining the situation to the Inspectorate of Environmental Protection. Fortunately we, the organizers, didn't suffer any consequences and the miniature paintings are still on view in Praga Park. Phew, what a relief...
Later I managed to carry out several more actions connected with Green Gallery in Stalowa Street in Warsaw and in Dąbrowa Dolna in the Świętokrzyskie province.
The description of the project:
My idea is based on the traditions of Central and Eastern Europe which are almost completely forgotten. In the pre-Christian times some species of trees were believed to be holy and they were decorated. Even today we can notice the traces of this respect for trees – both in Poland and in other countries small Christian shrines are hung on trees.
I know that the realization of this project will bring people closer to the nature and the art. I think that in the era of concrete, steel and glass it is advisable or even necessary to invest in artistic and ecological actions in the cities. It is necessary to create outdoor Green Galleries in parks, squares and yards. For many people such galleries will be the first and the only way to encounter art.
I suggest making paintings on trees, specifically on the areas where the bark is damaged e.g. as a result of cutting the branches off. These paintings will protect trees from decay and they will show people that trees are valuable.
As I have already mentioned, my idea is not a product of a jaded artistic imagination. It is based on this aspect of our culture which is almost completely forgotten.
The contributors to the project of Green Gallery will be artists who can make miniature paintings.
The project in Praga Park has been realized by: Katia Sokolowa-Zyzak (Russia) and Linas Domarackas (Lithuania).
Text by: Linas Domarackas
Translated by: Krystyna Szurmańska