To appreciate Gorski’s pieces it is necessary to understand that she sees the world through displacements: “there is an aspect that I consider very important to my work - the investigation of landscapes taken from a relation of displacement. I reckon that in all the moving I do in life are reasons for me to find subjects to my pieces. My projects have much to do with small or big displacements, that can either be related to a trip or even to a small movement within my own hometown, as long as it is something that triggers my eyes and takes me out of my routine so I can relook at landscapes possibilities”, explains the artist.
I met Laura Gorski in a sunny summer evening at ZKU, her temporary home/studio: a residency in a center for art and urbanistics in Moabit, Berlin. Located in a former railway depot, the house is blessed by an amazing sunset by the porch. At the residence, Gorski shared the common area with many other artists around the globe, where they discussed their production and had open dining and film sessions every Friday.
Summer evening at ZKU - Berlin
We sat at her studio that faced the street for a cup of tea while she calmly told me how she ended up there and all about her pathway as an artist. Laura Gorski works with drawing and it is through it that she sees the world. As she says: “drawing is my language, my tool. I see drawing not only as a structure to my thought but also in the structure of things. In the landscapes I draw I have the feeling that I strip off the elements and leave just the structure that is within the essence of these places”.
Laura Gorski - ZKU studio - summer 2013
When working on her first pieces Gorski used to draw directly on walls and her initial point of creation was the idea of transporting landscapes from a place to another, creating layers of mixed landscapes “so I would bring natural landscapes to the city, detaching and mixing scenes, and also creating a sort of window that would gather real landscapes from many different places”. At these first experiments the artist would bring to urban walls the image of a forest, for example, drawing its structures over the prior neutral surface. As a result, the urban landscape would then contain the forms of nature. Therefore, Gorski’s first pieces would short distances between different realities and re-think the present landscape by adding up a different one, that, out of its context, would also allow a new meaning or a new look to it.
Built Landscapes - Aerial Roots, 2011 | Vinyl adhesive on glass | 250x500cm and 250x900cm | SESC Santo Amaro - São Paulo - Brazil
In 2011 Gorski decided to spend one year in Berlin - and according to the artist this move was a key point to her practice. “I was away from home for one year and this experience allowed me to dive deeper into my work. And it was then that new elements started to be part of it, elements that were different from what I was working with. So I started to amplify my languages and supports beyond the drawing, although it still was the basis and structure for my creations. I started making interferences in books, appropriating book images and drawing over them. I also took my chances in working with video. It was a period of experimenting in which I had the opportunity to add all these elements to my practice - experience which I believe was very important to develop my own view of my work”.
During this year in Berlin Gorski also started to create pieces based not anymore in real landscapes, but now in imaginary ones. In her constant search for new places, she started to create silent fictionary scenes: “I tend to create places where I would like to be, those are element-emptied landscapes, silent and contemplative - they create a time that is important to me, a time that I pursue in my pieces”. Coming from such a busy, visually, sonorously (and literally) polluted city as São Paulo, Gorski black and white drawings invite us, from the busy contemporary life, to experience time of silence and visual comfort, of contemplation and attention.
These then new pieces originated the exhibition Arquipélago dos lugares imaginários (Archipelago of Imaginary Places), curated by Galciani Neves, in which Gorski dives into thoughts about fictional places by the Italian author Italo Calvino to build her own imaginary places. In Paisagem Provisória (Provisional Landscape), a silent atmosphere evolves Gorski’s exploration of the structure of volumes - icebergs, originally - through the drawing. The constitution of these volumetric element in the landscape lead to contemplative black and white peaceful views of the horizont.
Provisional Landscape, 2013 | Acrylic and permanent marker on wall | 275x1010cm | SESC São Carlos - Brazil
“These pieces mean a lot to me, they show a rupture with the reality that used to be so present in my early works. I was still making use of and rebuilding existing elements but now I could do this through a more free perspective in which imagination started to be an important element and parallel or distant realities also had a place in it”.
In the same exhibition Gorski showed her first experience in video - Lufadas de tempo (Time Flurries), that portraits the slow changes on a countryside scene in Portugal. The 20 minutes video shows clouds passing by a mountain and an energy windmill spinning while the light slowly and subtly changes as the day passes by, making the viewer a witness of the passage of time. Gorski pays attention here to all these elements in the landscape, the same way she does in her drawings, creating a similar silent and contemplative landscape that gives time to the viewer.
Time Flurries, 2012 | Video | 20 minutes
Another ongoing project of Gorski that definitely deserves to be mentioned is her interferences in German books creating new narratives and landscapes within them. By painting over and cutting written pages, the artist plays with showing and hiding the original content in order to build her own stories. These manipulated books have also strong connections to the fact that Gorski was, at the time she started working on them, exploring the world of a new language as she was learning German: “and as I was diving into this new language the text was revealing itself to me”. In these pieces, language and word relate to image and the object creating a whole new kind of imaginary to be explored by the artist and the viewer.
Innen, 2012 | Gouache on pages of the book: Einsichten, Martin Buber | 19x25 cm
Finally, Gorski’s main displacement project in Berlin: groundscape - a delicate and subtle work which takes the passengers of the U-Bahn (German underground service) out of their unaware state during the journeys. “I started this series when I was here in 2011. Since I arrived in the winter I was riding the U-Bahn a lot so I start to be fascinated by this indoors spaces of displacement, this underground landscapes and its connections. The many different paths and stairs and tiles and columns were now subject to my drawings. I was really intrigued by the fact that at the same time that these were imposing and beautiful spaces they were strictly functional, exclusively places of passage. I was noticing people pass by them without being really there, without really looking at them”.
So Gorski made her labyrinthine drawings of staircases, tiles and columns, of these invisible underground landscapes. And during the 2013 residence she took back these landscapes to their original habitat, placing the large dimension drawings in the advertisement boards of the platform. This subtle change on the U-Bahn landscape created a certain strangeness to the people who were used to not pay attention to those commercial ads - they were suddenly brought back to the place they were and offered the possibility of really looking and seeing the landscape they were part of.
grounsdcape, 2013 | Print on paper fixed by wheatpaste | 200x300cm each board | Berlin - Germany
Laura Gorski trajectory and the way she talks about her practice, despite of her young age, reveal a very much self-aware artist with sensitive and a curious eye: the eye of a traveller, which is in constant search for meeting things from the first time, trying to recover the innocence and ability of truly looking at the structure of the landscape. When we are out of our natural habitat and comfort zone, our look is sharper, our attention is acute and our minds are more questioning. Laura Gorski’s art practice is intimately related to this state - not only from her action as a creator, but also from what her silent pieces provoke to the viewer. A state which I consider essential for everyone to go back to from time to time - and getting there through Laura Gorski’s pieces is truly inspiring.