The exhibition “What after / What for” features a new fragment of the constantly expanding contemporary art collection of the Zachęta Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts. This year’s selection covers an area that used to be given relatively little importance in contemporary art, focusing on works connected with environmental thought in the 21st century. The subject of human interference in the fate of our planet is currently clearly exposed in all aspects of life. In art, it is manifested by questions about the purposefulness of creating works in the context of the further existence of the world. This thought is based on principles such as the importance of seeking harmony with nature and the awareness of Earth’s diminishing resources.

Since ancient times, fine arts have helped us to find answers to difficult questions about the essence of humanity in the context of the history of our planet. Increasingly, what we produce mimics the natural environment. Current technological progress and the processes accompanying the production of artificial materials raise questions about our dependence on the organic world. New materials imitating nature often become its inseparable, integral part. The boundary between human products and chemical or physical fragments of our natural environment is slowly blurring.

Following Aristotle, who said that sensual experiences provide the foundation for knowledge based on reason, we set out on a journey between what is visible and empirically verifiable, and what is abstract and unknown. According to the ancient philosopher, the world is an inseparable combination of ideas and matter, which, as the atomists added, consists of the same primal substances. In principle, forms cannot exist without matter, and matter without forms would be pure chaos. Therefore, can man have any influence on Earth’s fate if any attempt to come up with solutions must necessarily end in using its natural potential? New materials fascinate us, but they too come from what has been available since the beginning of life on Earth.

We use art to express our views, ask questions, influence our future. Art identified with the creation of meaning breaks the relationship between a work of art and physical material, shifting the emphasis towards the conceptual side. As we are guided by the desire to understand the world, various views and ideas through art, we remain thinkers who believe in a life in harmony with nature, one that could be the source of human wisdom, beauty, reflection and inspiration for creative work. Yet we are still faced with a great infinite space, which may be daunting. From the perspective of our globe, space travel and extraterrestrial exploration continue to seduce our imaginations. We keep looking for alternatives, we want new paradises, microcosms, safe havens, areas unspoilt by human interference, often unable to see that there already exist solutions leading to a happy life. We experience the surrounding reality, but not always in every dimension. This incessant struggle with one’s own creative perception of the world leads to intuitive knowledge of the essence of life, while the signal left by an artist’s work is but a preliminary yet valuable stimulus for further dialogue with the nature around us. If there is no “paradise lost” in another universe, perhaps it still exists in the unexplored potential of the organic world?

Logotyp, na białym tle z lewej strony zarys godła Polski - orła w koronie. Po prawej stronie napis Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
The purchase of works for the collection of the Zachęta Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts was co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage from the Culture Promotion Fund. Name of the task: Development of a regional collection of contemporary art in Wrocław in 2021

Logo Wrocław Miasto Spotkań. Na białym tle czarna podłużna ramka. W niej z lewej strony na czarnym tle białe słowo „Wrocław”, a po prawej stronie na białym tle czarny napis „miasto spotkań”.
The public task called PROMOTION OF THE CULTURE OF WROCŁAW THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF A REGIONAL COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN WROCŁAW IN 2021 is co-financed from the funds received from the Municipality of Wrocław

Logotyp Dolnośląskiego Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych. Na białym tle, po środku czarna kreska przebiegająca od góry do dołu. Z lewej strony z kreską styka się przekrzywiony czarny kwadrat. Z prawej strony napis małymi literami w czterech rzędach „dolnośląskie towarzystwo zachęty sztuk pięknych”