“Darkness” is the first Polish exhibition of paintings created by René Holm. The Danish artist co-operated with Szczecin art community in 2015, when he painted a mural on the building of the Association of Artists and Art Producers at 27, Wielkopolska Street.
All works shown in TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art combine three elements: forest, darkness and man. The forest is the preferred theme of Holm’s painting – in his earlier works, trees designate a space of shelter in which people create fragile substitutes of the house by putting up tents (exhibition Shelter). In other series of paintings, Ein Gruss Nach Hause, the painter processes photos from an album purchased at a flea market. The photographs from trips to the countryside are transformed into disturbing images with captured memories. The details and faces are blurred, and only the background of the woodlands, mountains and glades remains in the memory…
“Nature does not need thought, only human pride incessantly thinks into nature its thinking.” – wrote Thomas Bernhard in the novel Walking. Holm’s new paintings do not deprive the forest – the place burdened culturally and exploited economically and politically – of the mystery it possesses and has always possessed. The blackness of the forest is the darkness of the secret and eeriness, it is the gate to our imagination, which attributes fantastic moving shapes to shadows. It is not known whether the characters on the canvas find the light in the space of trees or in the depths of their minds. Ultimately, the light turns out to be the same mystery as the blackness of the forest at night.
The exhibition features eleven paintings and an installation created by the artist, consisting of several trees, shrubs and branches spread out on the floor, a few lamps and a three-meter ladder-neon. The things in the gallery space correspond with the objects featured in the paintings, which causes the darkness of the room to penetrate the dark world of images. In order to be able to see the works, our eyes have to adjust to the lack of light, in other words – we have to go out to meet the darkness. (Jędrzej Wijas)
“My works have both a physical and psychological dimension. Natural physical darkness happens every day and, in the case of most people, it helps to calm down, prepare to fall asleep and provide the body with tranquillity and rest. Night is the period between midnight and 5.00 a.m., when, for various reasons, many people cannot sleep. For them it is a psychological nightmare. Meanwhile, other people thrive on darkness. Whilst nearly everyone else is in hibernation mode, they live a totally different life.
For many people, the forest, which has played a major role in my works, is a beautiful, peaceful place to go for a walk – in order to recharge their bodies and souls. But, in the dead of night, that same forest is a place that most people would rather avoid, because we all know, or have heard about alarming accounts of things that have happened in ‘the dark forest’. The dark forest occurs frequently in children’s books, novels and films as a sinister place. The forest has been, and continues to be a place to which people flee in times of war. Why? It can provide a hiding place. People build shelters for themselves, there is generally food to be had and they can make a bonfire to keep dangerous animals at bay or to provide heat for survival.
The dark condition is something most of us to varying degrees have been affected by in our lives, when we suddenly lose someone close to us or lose the courage to live. Or darkness affects our minds, and the great challenge is to return to life and find the light again: the light that makes us enjoy life and to wake up ready for our everyday challenges. Depending their belief, that spiritual light may come from above or below. Then there is the physical light that guides us through the darkness and helps us survive the dark winter, or the light at the end of the tunnel.” (René Holm)