Broken Flowers

November 11 – February 24, 2024
Reception: Saturday, November 11, 2023 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Dana Widawski: Broken Flowers
This exhibition is part of the Pictura Triennial, 2nd edition

Text by Chloë Lalonde

Dana Widawski (b. 1973, Berlin, DE) uses kitsch to reflect in a humorous and ironic way on our western society and culture, straddling the line between criticism and curiosity. The exhibition at Art Mûr, Broken Flowers, depicts Dana’s ceramic works from the last four years, and portrays couples and their interpersonal, psychological and social dynamics.

The underglaze tiled paintings, Pan and Pysche and Venus and her magnificent cock, engage themes of nudity, tenderness and violence portrayed in classical literature, from Greek mythology to Shakespearean tales. Each incorporates a male figure as part animal, often much smaller than their female counterparts, thus highlighting the distinctive ways they remain out of touch in their relationships with their partners.

Parodying contemporary stereotypes and absurdities, Dana overshadows the craftsmanship and historical value of such finely crafted decorations dating back to the Rococo era. Two porcelain dolls mounted on magnetic coils say “I” (“Ich”) to each other as they see-saw to and fro, call each other names and instigate stereotypical exclamations. Often lying in the subtle details, English and German colloquialisms, and atypical or even ironic preservation methods, Dana’s manipulation of form, function and material creates thought-provoking spaces that prompt further introspection.

Stewalin, a smooth and resistant casting agent usually used in the creation of moulds, is paired with defective porcelain figures in Dana’s sculptures, recalling marble slabs and robust in comparison to the delicacy of the porcelain figures contained within. Moulds and casting allows for a seamless reproduction of an object, yet defects arise. Here, Dana begins with the defected pieces, bringing the material that aids their creation to the forefront. Don’t Stop Running Horses, Cancelled Culture No.1-4, and Shit Happens, pair porcelain figures with solid blocks of clay and ceramic. Bound by the materials that these sculptures are made out of, their simplicity and beauty contrast the delicacy of the knick knacks held within.

Tribute to Beethoven embeds childish music boxes playing a rudimentary rendition of Beethoven’s iconic Für Elise in the vandalised, anonymous busts of other composers. Beethoven’s authorship is obliterated by the piece and further torn to pieces in a new composition by Andreas F. Staffel in the accompanying video installation, Shut Up Elise!. In all of her work, Dana challenges established artistic norms by embracing the kitsch, and the iconic, offering a playful commentary on the conventional paradigms of art and culture. Providing hope and comfort, her use and overuse of these ideas can also distort one’s view of the complexities of the world, showcasing its ambivalence.