Suwon Lee & Małgorzata Widomska in 'Window Shopper', curated by Elaine ML Tam
7 July – 9 September 2023
Photos by Mark Bage Not Studio
Window shopper Suwon Lee and Małgorzata Widomska
Kravitz Contemporary x Death of Man are pleased to present Window shopper, a two-person exhibition featuring works by artists Suwon Lee and Małgorzata Widomska. The exhibition takes its title from a suite of formal qualities that the artworks share, but most importantly, the recurrence of the window as a literal and metaphorical device that shapes the virtual act of seeing. Emphasising the tension and idle associated with the figure of the window shopper, the artist pairing questions the seamlessness of vision and the forbiddance of touch: what does it mean to behold but not to hold, a safe distance or mournful separation? The experience of the window shopper is not jubilation in the strictest sense. Sure enough, there is sustained beguilement about that which is beyond the window: a world of appearances hemmed in by a transparent threshold. For above all, the window separates looking from possession and there- upon dramatizes longing. An ouroboric desire here affirms and re-affirms itself; it is precisely the not-having that creates wanting anew. Such is the trial and delight of the window shopper – to entertain this irrational form of thwarted desire through seemingly benign enjoyment. That people smash glass in protestation is no accidental gesture, it disrupts the harmony of illusion and is thus the perfected sign of the disillusioned.
Window shopper draws together photography and abstract painting for their respective abilities to speak to the personal-cultural through retinal pleasure. In casting the viewer of art as a window shopper, the exhibition calls to attention both their situatedness and condition of passionate detachment. Through Lee’s viewfinder we are provided with alternative views onto South American cities which she refers to as ‘anti-clichés’. These depictions are a bid for life against the reduction of these locations to their touristic landmarks, or flattening by their ranking status as ‘the most dangerous city in the world’. Cradled by their horizon lines are vast urban sprawls peopled by light, a sense of immensity in relief that cedes none of its power to postcard-genericism.
In Widomska’s work, the canvas stretcher is often echoed in the composition of a painting; with its uncanny likeness to a window, we segue through a portal into the artist’s remote, intimate memories. Adumbrate quadrangles offer a resting place for primary experience, a snapshot wherein a specific personage, moment or place finds expression in abstract form. Within their parsimonious palettes, only the soft intrusion of a sputtered detail – a broadly scraped stroke or fortified splash – draws the viewer back to the surface for a breath.
The world of appearances shrinks like clingfilm, the window’s edges crispate in a heady rush, a fast withdrawal. After all is lost, it is the lone sentiment registered by light or paint that remains with bullish insistence – be it the foreclosure of memory to the melodrama of a hue, or a record of haze so loyal it is almost tangible. That we are unable to fully grasp it is a mode of protection: protection from the overwhelming richness of an experience that cannot be regained after the fact, and as such is best handed over to beauty. After an afternoon lost in the annals of time, our listless window gazer retires back home, their purchase still firm on gleaming impressions, the dissolute self reflected in glass.
Elaine M.L. Tam
Kravitz Contemporary x Death of Man Private View: 6-9pm Thursday 6th July Dates: 7th August - 9th September (Wed-Sat 12-6pm)
Closed August 5-10 for summer holidays & August 25-28th bank holiday weekend Galleries: Kravitz Contemporary (London) x Death of Man (Warsaw) Address: 17 Soho Square, London W1D 3QJ Links: kravitz-contemporary.com, @kravitzcontemporary & @smiercczlowieka
Artists: Suwon Lee [Venezuela/South Korea] & @magorzata_widomska [Poland]