Vernissage: November 14th 2019 (Thursday), 6:00 P.M., free entrance
The National Museum in Szczecin–The Museum of Contemproary Art, 1 Staromłyńska St.


Despite the many announcements of its death, the medium of painting has not only survived but flourished, at least if we are to judge by the countless exhibitions given over to paintings and the astronomical prices certain canvases have earned at auction in recent years. There are a variety of explanations for why such an ancient medium continues to attract so much attention, ranging from persistent nostalgia for the unique handmade object to theories about commodity fetishism. While there is no doubt some truth in such sociological explanations, it also seems clear that the continuing popularity of painting corresponds to a deep need for the kind of experience that painting alone can offer. Since prehistoric times, since the time of the wall paintings of Lascaux and Chauvet, humans have been gravitating to spaces with vividly colored walls. This signifies not only a hunger for images, but also an attraction to colored surfaces.

In her radiant, subtly textured abstract canvases, Joanna Borkowska connects to this long-standing phenomenon, while also contributing to the vitality of contemporary painting. To look at one of Borkowska’s paintings is to encounter an immersive experience where no single part of the composition dominates any other. Building on the all-over technique pioneered by Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman, Borkowska creates edge-to-edge planar structures through patterns of marks and fields of color. Her process draws on the physical properties of her materials, and in doing so discovers poetic connections between events in her art and larger structures in the world. Details in her paintings, which reward close scrutiny, evoke phenomena of the natural world such as river systems and the veins of leaves, the star-filled night sky and the patterns left in sandy beaches by an ebb tide. This fractal, micro-macro aspect of her art is at once phenomenological and metaphysical.

Access to this experience only comes with patient, sustained looking. It’s important to recognize how Borkowska’s paintings stand in opposition to the obsession with speed that characterized so much of modernism, at least since 1909 when the impresario of Italian Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, announced: “We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed.” In our current high-tech culture, the obsession with speed permeates every moment of our lives. Borkowska’s paintings, which are the opposite of an Instagram image stream, invite us to decelerate our visual world. As such they belong to the growing “Slow Art” movement, articulated in books such as Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed (2004) and Arden Reed’s Slow Art: the Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell (2017). In a recent essay for the magazine “Tate Etc” titled Slow Art in an Age of Speed, Jonathan P. Watts cited a 2017 research study showing that visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago spent an average 28.63 seconds looking at artworks. Attuned to the natural world and to the history of abstraction, Borkowska defies such rapid visual consumption by making slow paintings for durational looking, something we have always needed, and now perhaps more than ever.

                                                                                                                                                             Raphael Rubinstein


Joanna Borkowska ‒ an abstract painter born in Poland, lives and works in New York and Warsaw. She studied political science at the Jagiellonian University, the University of Oxford, and Paul Valéry University of Montpellier, France. She earned her doctorate in 2004 from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where she lectured on the history of political thought and international relations from 2001 to 2007. In 2006, she published a book, Catharism: A Dispute Over Medieval Dualism. In the fall of 2007, she left her academic position in order to develop her artistic work. After debuting in 2009 with a solo exhibition in the National Museum in Szczecin, she has exhibited in Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, Spain, and the United States, as well as throughout Poland. She has been an artist in residence at Matadero Madrid – Contemporary Art Center, Art Omi in Ghent, NY, and Residency Unlimited in New York City.

Raphael Rubinstein ‒ a New York-based poet and art critic whose numerous books include Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990‒2002 (Hard Press Editions), The Afterglow of Minor Pop Masterpieces (Make Now) and The Miraculous (Paper Monument). He edited the anthology Critical Mess: Art Critics on the State of their Practice (Hard Press Editions). From 1997 to 2007 he was a senior editor at Art in America, where he continues to be a contributing editor. He is currently professor of critical studies at the University of Houston School of Art. In 2002, the French government presented him with the award of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2010, his blog The Silo won a Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and in 2014 it was given a Best Blog Award of Excellence by the International Association of Art Critics. 


 MNS w swiecie powolnego malarstwa zaproszenie small



Joanna Borkowska. In the Realm of Slow Painting 


The National Museum in Szczecin–The Museum of Contemporary Art
1 Staromłyńska St.

November 15th 2019–January 5th 2020

Vernissage: November 14th 2019 (Thursday), 6:00 P.M., free entrance


Curator: Raphael Rubinstein
The NMS Curators: Magdalena Lewoc, Marlena Chybowska-Butler

Organiser: The National Museum in Szczecin


Joanna Borkowska Frequencies Blue 2013 oil and pigments on canvas 140 x 100 cm

Joanna Borkowska, Frequencies Blue, 2013, oil and pigments on canvas, 140 x 100 cm


Joanna Borkowska Frequencies Red 2013 oil and gold pigment on cancas 100 x 140 cm

Joanna Borkowska, Frequencies Red, 2013, oil and gold pigment on cancas, 100 x 140 cm


 Joanna Borkowska Frequencies White 2014 oil and pigments on canvas 140 x 100 cm

Joanna Borkowska, Frequencies White, 2014, oil and pigments on canvas, 140 x 100 cm