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Gallery 1

Moka after the Rain, 2018-2020, water soluble media on canvas, 60x120_

Maja Godlewska, Moka After the Rain

 

Maja Godlewska

Trophy Vistas
December 4, 2020 – February 13, 2021

Our contemporary visual culture is inundated with images of nature as a flawless backdrop to the seductive lives we strive for, yet this is not a new concept. The notion of an idealized natural landscape functioning as a pleasure destination for the elite class took hold of western culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. What was once documented by etchings and watercolor sketches in publications such as Harper’s Weekly in the mid 1800s is now just a swipe away on our phones and computer screens. The irony of this imagery is that it fosters a deep alienation from the natural world. When we conceive of the environment as nothing more than a sublime backdrop to our lives, we miss the intricacies and vitality of the natural world that not only surrounds us, but with which we are inextricably linked.

Artist Maja Godlewska has spent years and many miles documenting tourists in popular landscape destinations. Her large-scale watercolor paintings function to capture the feeling of a place and offer an interactive experience for visitors to the gallery. Serpentine walls of lush watercolor encompass the viewer and create an opportunity for observation and introspection. This heightened engagement with the work, is something the artist hopes viewers will take to their experiences with the natural world outside of the gallery. Godlewska describes the paintings as “my attempts at creating environments that would invite unhurried examination, for the viewer to follow their meandering form and variegated surfaces. They are my slow, defiant responses to the fast paced insta-consumption of the landscape in the pre-COVID-19 world.”

I share this hope with the artist. COVID-19 has created a pause, in which we find ourselves deprived of our superficial Trophy Vistas. Yet this pandemic offers an opportunity to engage with the environment around us in ways that honor the connection, vibrancy and life that the natural world contains in all its imperfect glory.

ANNAH LEE  DIRECTOR OF ARTISTIC PROGRAMS

8. Wilderness, 2020, exhibition view

Maja Godlewska, Islands, detail, photographed at Maud Gatewood Gallery, UNC-Greensboro

MAJA GODLEWSKA (maja-godlewska.squarespace.com) is an Associate Professor of Painting at the Department of Art + Art History, UNC Charlotte, NC, and received her MFA in Painting, E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design, Wroclaw, Poland. Media include painting, drawing, installation, photography, performance art and hybrid forms. Her critical essays on art and social phenomena have been published in Polityka and in Format in Poland. Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including The Worlds Without Us, APT Gallery, London, UK; The Ultimate Landscape, New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC; Self, c.r.e.t.a. rome, Rome, Italy; and ARTchipelago, French Institute, Mauritius. She has been a recipient of grants and fellowships, including Fulbright Fellowship, NC Arts Council Fellowship Awards, several Charlotte Arts + Science Council grants, Kosciuszko Foundation Fellowship and Tempus Mobility Grant from the European Union, and numerous University Faculty Research Grants. She has had artist residencies in the US, Chile, France, Spain, Iceland, Greenland, Mauritius, Tasmania and South Korea.

Work in the exhibition was partially supported by the Faculty Research Grant from UNC Charlotte and by the Regional Artist Project Grant from the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg.