TAYLOE PIGGOTT GALLERY is pleased to present Pneuma, an exhibition of sculptural works by Polish artist Xawery Wolski, on view from December 10th through January 30th 2022. This exhibition, centered around a large-scale installation of shimmering knitted wire Globos, presents multiple iterations of his artistic practice – the artist’s airy knitted wire sculptures, beaded sculptural dresses in a variety of earthly materials, and ceramic hinged vessels he calls Retablos. A reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition will be hosted on Saturday, December 18 from 5 to 8pm; all are invited to attend.
The artist describes his Globos, knitted wire globes,as “the opposite of minimalism.” At once illuminated balls of light, phosphorescent jellyfish, and cell-like microorganisms, the inanimate balls seem to breathe. Hundreds of shimmering transparent globes create an immersive experience, akin in many aspects to a room full of Ruth Asawa sculptures, but all aglow. “It’s like nature, the cells expand in space, taking over the space and making it beautiful,” the artist notes. “Intriguing, different, but not like taking possession of the space.” He leaves room for breath, air, life.
Titled Pneuma, the Greek word for air, breath, or spirit, the exhibition honors the soulful meditation inherent in textile arts. The time-intensive process involved in the knitted works, from inception to installation, reflects the artists’ generous feelings about time, his devotion to slow processes and meticulous craftsmanship. Each piece, knitted by hand over hundreds (occasionally thousands) of studio hours, is the opposite of machine made. And with each loop of wire, he touches upon his oeuvre itself, thematically connected with the arc of his entire career.
Fresh out of art school, Wolski was engrossed in a project involving thousands of hand-formed terracotta chain links, which he eventually fired into clay chains and presented piled on the ground. These links are alluded to today in monumental bronze chain sculptures which stretch toward the ceiling. The very first dress he created was “a long time ago,” in Perú, woven of hand-formed terracotta beads. He had visited the pre-Columbian graves of Inca warriors and was inspired by the lasting idea of the garments they were buried in. The body becomes dust; the armor of adornment holds the shape of the long-passed soul within for centuries. “The idea of the absent body—there is an existential background to all these works,” he says. “The dresses [I make] are spiritual tunics, or armor for a knight.” He never makes utilitarian dresses for wear—they remain themselves solely objects of art, ones that subvert the ancient realm of weavers whose aim was to wrap, to cover, to adorn. He works, rather, in the employ of art, and beauty, and ideas.
Xawery Wolski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1960 and currently lives and works between his studios in Poland and Mexico City. He has recently returned from a long sojourn in Mexico City to his native Poland to overhaul his childhood home into a studio and public exhibition space. He was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts (Warsaw), the Academy of Fine Art (Paris), and the Institute of Higher Education in Visual Arts (Paris). The artist has exhibited his work in countries throughout the world and has been awarded residencies in Asia, South America, Mexico, the United States, and Europe. As he travels, he continues to collect the natural products of each country as inspiration for his art.