Sight is quintessential to the concept of a picture. Eyes are extended arms, they feel the landscape, objects, faces and other bodies. “To see means to love … To learn to see is to learn to love” writes Krzysztof Karasek, quoting Wolter in his essay on the physics of Newton, defining man’s bewildered perception of the world.
To see means more than just to look. Everybody looks but not many see. From looking comes the rhetoric of the concept of landscape. From seeing emerges its reality, physicality, an ensuing fragment of palpable detail transforming to a conscious detail. The act of seeing is at the same time an act of drawing close, an act of “erotic” feeling in the face of feint signs, or symbols of the body of the landscape. The eye-hand envelops it, stroking. They tell one another that they live inside each other.
What does Janina Osewska see in the landscape registry or the book of existence? That she sees, there is no doubt. Is it painting, sometimes the illustrated surface of a picture which she has divined. Is it not some secret code of symbols which cannot be decrypted? And if these are sign and script, she does not only select but perhaps adds her signature? In her photography, somewhere deep underneath, there are secret meetings with symbols and icons, touched, rippled or escaping. In this meeting the word uses the body, and both these statements yearn for the third state, to sound, to music. Are not the reflections of light from water ripples music? Were not the tips of Chopin’s fingers once moved by the light playing on the water?
In her photography, Janina Osewska writes to us in her ciphered alphabet of nature. We are carried away to that to which we are condemned. But we don’t understand her writing, her speech nor for what she is sighing and feeling. What and with whom she plans to share her empathy, nor with whom or what she yearns to join and become one, we don’t know. Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz in his verse ‘The Old Poet’ wrote:
Look how the clouds speak to us
and we don’t understand
Areas speak to us
developing trees speak to us
and we don’t understand
And that’s how it is
Water, ice, the earth, sand and mud, mist, light, grass, seaweed, stones, pebbles, frogs, leaves, shells, trees, a snake and even boats resembling resting lovers speak out to us from the photographs of Janina Osewska. We don’t understand. They speak out with the form and surface of the strange signs with their hidden reflected letters, ghosts, streaks, pipes, folds, drops, furrows, cracks, wrinkles, faults, prisms, rags, lumps, granules, trails, scratches, icicles, the grain of wood, stripes, shots, seams, knots, fluorescence, straight lines and structures. But we do not understand. And that is how it is.
Sometimes the author spells out from the darkness in the scheme of the first page, like the illuminated first letter of a wise mediaeval book.
On every object pictured, every sign is a trace of existence, resonating with shared feeling. The author understands. If she were asked how she cared for herself, she would surely answer that she learns from empathy. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:
Everything beckons to us to perceive it,
murmurs at every turn, “Remember me!”*
The trace is the figure and the metaphor of Janina Osewska’s books. Everything is important, suffering rejoices, laments and dances in every second. In each there is life and death. Janina Osewska would like to fathom that dance – that sign that exists in every movement. The book of existence – her language.
*Rainer Maria Rilke, Es winkt zu Fühlung fast aus allen Dingen from Later Poems, transl. James Blaire Leishman, The Hogarth Press Ltd., London 1938