Throughout August, as part of ‘Culture in Exile’, the Belarusian artist Maria Elena Bonet will be working at Villa Decius on her new artistic project, inspired by the work of Czesław Miłosz, in particular the work ‘The Issa Valley’. Maria Elena Bonet’s creative activities will be centred around the theme of the river, which has appeared in both her previous artistic projects presented at Villa Decius as part of ‘Culture in Exile’: MY RIVER and BETROTHAL TO THE SEA, as well as in the works of the Polish Nobel Prize winner. During her stay in Krakow, the artist plans to delve into the work of Czesław Miłosz and visit places associated with his life.
I am beginning work on a series of paintings based on the literary works of Czesław Miłosz. This is a completely new work in which I will be painting with oil paints. In my last project, BETROTHAL TO THE SEA, I used photography as a tool that had the properties of an alchemical mirror. In the new project, I am using oil paint and canvas as tools to show the inner reflection evoked by the work of Czeslaw Milosz.
I am close to the images and experiences contained in Milosz’s works. The images described in ‘The Issa Valley’, for example, evoke my own childhood memories spent by the river, memories of a time that influenced the formation of my personality. It was the first book I read when I came to Poland two years ago. At that time I felt a kinship and understanding at the level of images, which helped me to settle into a new place.
Miłosz wrote ‘facing the river’, feeling this consonance, I would like to express this approach to life through visual images. – says Maria Elena Bonet about her new art project.
Project co-financed by the International Solidarity Foundation within the framework of Polish development cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.
Maria Elena Bonet
Born in Minsk, she graduated from the Belarusian Academy of Fine Arts. Since 2007, she has been focusing on analogue photography, creating works of art using manual photographic processes such as the gelatin-silver technique, gum bichromate process, tin process, cyanotype. Since 2017, she has been conducting original workshops in manual photography. Since 2018, she has been developing multimedia projects including photography, video, sound and light. Since 2019, she has been represented by art galleries in France and Spain.
In 2020, she was nominated for the State Prize for Fine Arts in Belarus: Art Photography. In solidarity with the censored artist and the victims of government violence in Belarus, she withdrew her candidature.
In 2021, she was the winner of the Month of Photography in Grenoble, France. In the same year, the film My River was selected in the short film competition and screened at the ValdarnoCinema Film Festival in Italy. She also received the Gaude Polonia scholarship from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and came to Poland, where she now lives and works in Gdansk.
In 2022, she was awarded the Cultural Scholarship of the City of Gdansk. She has also started researching the history of analogue photography in Belarus and Poland at the University of Warsaw.