"DeProfundis," 2005, oil and tar on canvas, 55" x 79".
RICHARD WLODARCZAK, "Faith and Reason," Sept 19 - Oct 22, 2005, Art Works Gallery, Vancouver
Practical Art History or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser by Jim Finlay.
Finlay Fine Art Wealth Management.
Chapter 21. The Case of our Man in Havana.
Tantaene animis caelestibus irae? (Are there such violent passions in celestial minds?)
Last fall I was invited to an opening at The Havana Restaurant of new works by a local painter named
Richard Wlordarczak. The Havana, thankfully is continuing it’s tradition of offering an exhibition space
to established, as well as emerging artists and that commitment to the visual arts has enhanced the cultural
sophistication, vulnerability and diversity of fine art in the city.
Roma Invicta 1 Richard Wlordarczak
The title of his show Roma Invicta (unconquerable Rome) alludes to the inevitability of militarilistic and
imperialistic expansion of empire necessary to create order and stability. Pax Romama. (Roman peace)
Richard Wloardczak is a history painter; he paints the indeterminate and unstable residue of disaster. His
work is visceral and unapologetic. He uses traditional as well as non-traditional materials such as tar and
stalks of rye, in concert to reference the present in terms of the past. The incongruity of media is made
more immediate by his use of a non-representational image making technique, which is devoted to
accident and unpredictability.
He intentionally destabilizes hierarchies of visual language to abandon them in a condition of
indeceidability and paints the remembrance of the ruin of destruction and catastrophe demanded by the
totality of military conflict. The ambiguities of truth, lies and ideologies struggle to coalesce in a context
of indeceidability as the viewer is forced to survive in a world without redemption or the heroic.( Much
the same way as a prisoner in G. B. Pirenasi’s Carceri series.)
The impact of catastrophe is overwhelming and absolute such that nothing appears to have been touched
as his images constitute a specifically traumatized understanding of the world which cannot be accessed
by those who did not experience the apocalypse. The viewer is subsumed by the inevitability of disaster,
which ruins everything all the while leaving everything intact. We are drawn to view and review his
images as necessary for processing the experience of trauma associated with the initial disaster. Even as
the act of reproduction dissipates the specificity upon which memory is based, by reproducing things we
ensure that they will not be forgotten. Thus the experience of the disaster is only truly experienced by its
He paints the latency of the experience of shock (without the awe) to force the viewer to process the
intensity of an otherwise unendurable experience. He demands that we do not forget and insists that
memory survive, to remind us of what has gone before.
Wlodarczak’s images announce the paradox of the archive as we will only know what is meant by the
archive in times to come as the past can only be recovered if it is experienced in terms of loss and ruin.
The archive reminds us that violence will persist as there can be no conflict without the archive.
When I think of Havana, (Our man in Havana.1959) I also think of other such exotic far away places as
Rio de Janerio (Flying Down to Rio.1933) and Brazil (Brazil.1985) as states of mind,