text for the Plain field exhibition, made in cooperation with Krzysztof Mętel and Mateusz Piestrak in March 2022 at Pani Domu gallery in Poznań

I like browsing through books. I collect illustrations from them and use them in my paintings. In this way, illustrative motifs can wander – from a sheet of paper, where perception takes place in in the same amount of time it takes to turn a page – onto the canvas that functions in the architectural space, stuck to the wall, in a state of eternal openness to being perceived. What is small becomes big. The north meets the south – in the Middle Ages, books were illuminated in northern Europe because the climate was not conducive to wall painting, which, in turn, flourished in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. In the north, paintings were closed in leather-bound volumes, while in the south, they were integrated with buildings and the space inside them in the form of frescoes. There were two different types of painting, different types of perception, conditioned by latitude and depending on the landscape, sunlight and diet – everything that made up the neurobiological structure of the creators of culture who, after all, inhabited their bodies, always unequally privileged in accordance with the nature of this world.
I would not like to inhabit books. This is why I extract illustrations from them and try to integrate them, enlarged, with my surroundings. I mean, I would literally not want to live in a leather-bound volume but I would also not like to live in a fictional, literary world. Fiction is there to complement reality, not to produce it. And the one who illustrates must submit to history, reality and the sociocultural context. Artists, like gypsies, move with their historical and cultural fleet across the field, the shape and fate of which they cannot decide. In the end, they are assigned – like criminals – those who are called curators to cooperate with them.
On my canvases, a negotiation is going on: whether to present or to illustrate; whether to tell a story; whether to be tasty or raw; whether to brag; whether to point a finger; whether to laugh; whether to be serious; whether to do a lot or a little; whether to be cynical or kind? What is this language? What is the difference, as Francis Bacon asked, between a painting projecting a problem directly onto the recipient’s nervous system and the one that also communicates something, but follows a roundabout way of illustration? How is it possible for us to see something and understand the meaning of it? What is it like with perception – do we see the world as if we are staring out of a window? Or perhaps the world just obscures what is essential and true, as Giacometti suggested with his sculpture Pointe à l’oeil (Spike in the Eye)? It is a question about the vector of vision, the direction of our being – do we push or withdraw, and how does the world relate to it?
Ultimately, it is always about producing affect. To take care of a painting = to transfer it to oneself. Another nice metaphor. And painting? It is probably there to (unfortunately) expose oneself to being seen, and (worse) under the guise of modesty. Crafting things – anything you like to watch, listen to, wear, and so on, is an option. It is there for more than existence to happen; it is there for something extra to happen. So, you may make things, and you may not, and it seems impossible to figure out which is better. So, we choose between existing and existing with a tiny plus (which can be, for example, painting a picture on canvas).
Creating is not necessarily the same as living your life. When I create, I do not experience, but I rummage in the foundations of what I have already experienced. Always squeezed between action and meaning, I work to produce this existential surplus of mine, looking for an unattainable, as it seems to me, compromise, which is a nice place between creation and life. Where is it, if not at work? It can be said that paintings are like projections on curtains, or that they stare at us, or that they have a presence, or that they prevent us from seeing something, or that they make it possible to perceive something. For me, paintings are an excuse to do a job that gives me hope that someday I will find out how I should live.
Alicja Kubicka
fragment of text for the Hasteful retreat exhibition at State Gallery of Art in Sopot, which took place in May 2022 Painting  – it is just one of the languages one can employ to search for answers. A medium convenient for me, incidentally more so than writing, for instance, or music, or anything else – neither better, nor worse. Whereas an exhibition – it is an opportunity to hear comments and opinions on my work, to see myself (along with paintings lurking from behind my back) reflected by those who have come to see. And with every such situation I get to experience, I learn more about how much one should say concerning what is displayed. The everyday practice of issuing sentences shows that the mind creates synopses similar to space-time tunnels in the universe; a story told many times is synthesized and retains only those elements which are absolutely vital for it to convey its sense – like in the case of a fairy tale. It is easiest, I suppose, to talk about art, about anything really, for two people of different nationalities using a language that is foreign to both of them; then the sense is contained within the weight of their clumsy accents, misused descriptors, forgotten vocabulary – in their inaptness. Francis Bacon curiously and rhetorically asked: “what is the difference between a painting projecting a problem directly onto the viewer’s nervous system, and one that also communicates something, but follows a circuitous path of illustration?“ He openly admitted that he didn’t know what it really was (I, of course, don’t either). But with his work he suggested that the answer lay in the work, or that the work was the answer. He also taught us that a painting can represent something, and be about something – but they are two completely different things.-Alicja Kubicka
The award of the 3rd Triennale of Pomeranian Art in the Painting category goes to Alicja Kubicka for her courage, intransigence, momentum and consistency in releasing her own idea of painting 'immersed in painting'. The artist works with the medium aware of its own historical and artistic ballast, conceptually and technically rewrites it in a way that gives it new strenght and freshness. In her large and small format paintings, the recent graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk plays a peculiar game with the history of painting and its conventions, imaging, perception and psychology of seeing. Despite her young age and short presence on the artistic scene, she is mature - ideologically and methodically - creating images tasteful in colour, not devoid of a sense of humour, freedom and lightness. Kubicka's love of painting can be seen in the content and form of her visual representations and the sensitivity of working with colour. The works submitted for the Triennale - Pictura, Pictor Optimus, Adoration of the Lamb and DIY, all from 2018 - were painted unpretentiously, efficiently and with fantasy. The aura of Kubicka's artistic individuality emerges from her works.
Michał Jachuła
texts selected from catalogue for the Painter's toolkit exhibition, which took place at Municipal Gallery bwa in Bydgoszcz in May 2018

What’s there to find out while making one’s way through the “Painter’s toolkit”

I work mainly with acrylic paint and try not to give up on that. This choice imposes a certain limitation on the artist, to be interpreted as a positive quality, giving heaviness to the field of formal research and providing the painterly production with meaningfulness. This very medium brings a peculiar, anti-anecdotal sort of deliverance – a contrary utterance, feeding itself on an anecdote, but refusing to finally become one (as for me, ideally).  Painting requires an anecdote, because anecdote serves as a pretext.  
Among various impulses driving my output, there are iconic visual themes rooted deep in our visual culture, such as the central tableau of the Ghent Altar of van Eyck brothers, the first photographic still life by J. N. Niépce alluding to painterly tradition of this genre, or a frame taken from the movie “Blowup” by M. Antonioni. On the way of appropriation and subordination of these images to the language of my painterly gesture, I try to wash the narrative out of them in order to reach the source and condition of their impingement, or, to put it another way – their timelessness. 
I investigate what causes certain images to be remembered, absorbed by and affective to the viewer – in other words: what makes images “serve” (because I take it as undeniable that painting serves something). I find it possible that the condition of paintings’ impact lies in the existence of inner pictorial reality, that is to say – window-likeness of paintings (yet, still). Hence my works base on central composition, frontal and symmetrical like the Ghent Altar, echoing the liturgical theatre. I am driven by the conviction that the painterly process and gesture eventually provide the decisive rule of the imprint or, on the contrary, passing over of an image, both by the contemporary viewer and the current of history. I endeavor to build the painting as a sort of tableau vivant – a being which, by its obstinate, self-evident and, in a way, naive presence, reveals itself to the “watcher”, speaking: I am the depiction, I enunciate representation.
Therefore my works carry a twofold load – the painterly matter and the non-visual track of narrative, probably legible for me only. Perhaps this is right, because in the end the anecdote turns out not to have any significance, maybe except for those of the viewers who, in order to respond to the painting, require other stimulants that the visual and seek foothold in the narrative. 
Perhaps, regardless of the strategy of visual communication taken by the artist, it is regular labor over the painterly gesture, the so-called ABC of painting, thanks to which one can achieve the devastating coherence of visual statement. While working on the basis, an unpredictable load of unconscious values “spews out” of the painter. Perhaps it is the corporealness of painting that comes to rescue painting from literality, which threatens it at every turn – it is the physicality to which we owe the impossibility of certain prediction over the final effect. Thus what is beyond the margin of control, I seem to find most interesting - most buoyant semantically, “pushing matters forward”. For that reason, perforce the subject matter of this exhibition is my attitude towards painting, more than what the paintings depict or express.
One of the anecdotes, on which this show and its title are based – “Painter’s toolkit” – came from a trivial situation which imperceptibly transformed into a dominant theme of my work. In June 2017 I completed my graduation work (prepared under the custody of Krzysztof Gliszczyński, Przemysław Łopaciński and Marek Model) at the faculty of painting at the Academy of Fine Art in Gdańsk. By the occasion of our first meeting since, Stanisław Stasiulewicz gifted me a present which was meant to serve me on my new, professional  chapter of life – a cardboard box containing the painter’s toolkit, to which belonged such objects as: a stretcher with primed canvas, a couple of brushes, metal tubes of acrylic paint and a tiny wooden palette. Mr Stasiulewicz groomed me for an examination at the Academy when I was still attending high school and was the first to notice that I was anyhow predisposed for going in for painting. After I moved to Gdańsk, he kept track of my doings and in his own way remained my teacher. Thus his gift I consider as greatest possible, mainly because of its effortlessness and symbolical quality of an avuncular blink. Also, it is impossible to ignore the imposing association with the distinctive aesthetics (though this might be a risky denomination) of Szkoła Bydgoska (Bydgoszcz School), with its wooden cases, cubby-holes and cardboard art. Up until my graduation year I was completely unaware of the Bydgoszcz School phenomenon, which was brought to my attention by the publication entitled “Było nie było”, containing Jolanta Ciesielskas extensive essay upon that matter. Discovering Bydgoszcz School for me was a strong experience insofar as I basically grew up on the ground saturated with the School’s doings not even knowing it and, what’s more, having its co-originator, Stanisław Stasiulewicz, within my reach all the time. It is hard to imagine a more suitable way for me to deal with that knowledge than painting. Obviously I don’t mean putting the history of the School literally on canvas. I would just like to mention that Bydgoszcz School begins to clash in my paintings and I welcome this notice with gladness. The gesture of gifting me with the toolkit, unconstrained and inconspicuous, I embraced as ready to translate to visual language.
The toolkit became a theme echoing among my paintings so lustily, that they eventually became chaffering with and about each other. Receiving the toolkit seems to me as comparable to a snowball igniting an avalanche, that is to say, a starting point of series of paintings about the toolkit, the palette, the paint, the central composition. In result, the focal length of my painting turns towards the category of illustrativeness, with which I manipulate, sometimes saturating my works with literality and at some other time depriving them of a readable benchmark. (...)
Alicja Kubicka
Our body has such a structure that when we look back, we immediately lose sight of the direction and point we are heading towards. Although it disappears (the beginning of the end) from the field of vision, its afterimage remains and overlaps with the memories that shape our memory.
The process of forgetting would therefore be a simultaneous loss of the past and the future, as well as a temporary selection of what is important and what is not.
Living and looking back, seeing the past determines - together with our eyes - the direction of the face, and thus the taste, smells, touch...
The kind of post-modern game of "feeling in reverse" in Alicja Kubicka's works combines the past "time of looking" with the reworked and conscious "time of seeing". It is yet another look at what already happened - and what, in relation to the reacting and feeling body, is in a continuum of "lasting time", as being involved in what is "behind".
Therefore, an important but not the only direction of her search is to reveal the consequences of the dominance of the sense of sight in the history of culture, as well as of the important relationships between visual experience and its content.
By creating, she addresses the problem of self-thematism - in constant deconstruction and reconstruction of modern and post-modern visual tradition.
In her work, what we look at is what Alicja sees and what Others have already experienced before. Also the issues of the medium and self-referentiality, combined with Julia Kristeva's intertextuality, presented by her, allows us, the viewers, to see the reality belonging to the Other, trying to see it through its eyes. By opening up to dialogue in this way, Alicja's imagination re-reads and revives what remains and is important. The disillusioning treatments she used reveal the fictious character of the world se had seen and depicted earlier. In this situation, the image becomes a kind of a game of conventions and does not refer mimetically to reality, but essentially to its image.
A frame from Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup, USA, Great Britain, Italy, 1966.
2. Knots
In Alicja's work, "staring" emanates melancholy. It is only somewhere on the borders of recognition that the structure of a painting reconciles the "physical" with the imagined. The action of going "beyond" - into the unknown - is also the work on the real - so that imagination, by transforming matter, would change its earlier meanings.
By tying time and materialised fiction together, the artist woven the image of the viewer that breathes life into a painting into an excess that arises. She confronts it with a number of experiences reacting to thickenings resulting from the places of "bonds". From exaggerations built by re-trying to combine what has been broken. That which does not remain in the communication of message and understanding, including consent - resistance to power, which, in spite of the rules of life, is realised at the expense of others and their small chances of survival.
So what are these knotted thickenings, cracks and interruptions - that which is empty... in reality, they only seem to be the paint and substrate applied, but for Alicja, they are the "phisicality of the inexpressible". The materiality associated with the memory of images, as well as with the recognised places of events that one can say they exist because they do not exist.
This is similarly reflected in a work by Jeff Koons, Play-Doh. Looking at the installation, we can only see the huge shape of the shapeless, expressive pieces of coloured plastic. Trying to recognise the content in the shape, we go back to our childhood with our memory. To the period of contact with the surface of the space as if it were a plastic mass to play with. Now, having a different body, we realise that in the process of recognition we also discover ourselves, being as inalienable part of the gigantic form.
So Alicja, getting to know the "other side of the mirror", is determined to face the "image" as an area of politics, privacy... of personal dillemas, as well as human dramas. She still is like a child, amazed by the world - as well as  m i x e d  with it.
Jeff Koons, Play-Doh installation, polychrome aluminium 312,4 x 383,5 x 348 cm, 5 unique versions, 1994-2014, Newport Street Gallery, London,  photo by Sławomir Lipncki, 2016
Catalogue, framed reproductions of the artist's paintings, site-specific installation, Colony of Artists in Gdańsk (appendix to the diploma), photo by Alicja Kubicka, 2017
Catalogue, framed reproductions of the artist's paintings, site-specific installation, Colony of Artists in Gdańsk (appendix to the diploma), photo by Alicja Kubicka, 2017
dr hab. Sławomir Lipnicki