The Past Is A Good Teacher

  • As in all history of art, an artist learns from other artists. The past becomes a teacher, an example and a source of inspiration, and masters are quoted by young students or admirers. This happens in contemporary art as well — just think of the artwork by the Brazilian Vik Muniz, or the portrait of Kate Moss/Marlyn by Banksy. In regard to street art panoramas, thanks to Unurth I discovered the work of Jola Kudela, an artist who uses the history of art as his main subject.

    His love for the art of the Renaissance brings him to create new versions of famous paintings, revisiting them in his own personal way. Botticeli, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna and Michelangelo, but also Tiziano are his models — he chooses iconic paintings to make these recognizable for most of the people. The dialogue with the original has to be clear and direct. This project started in Paris and then moved to the district of Praga in Warsaw, where the majority of his stuff found a location. What is also interesting is that Jola acts as the artists did in the Renaissance, inviting his contemporaries to take part to the artwork as models, asking local people living in the same district, to be saints or dukes for one day, or even the Virgin or Jesus Christ.

    Another artist who plays with history is Žilda. In his project Fragiles Fabulae he reinterpreted myths and old fables, inspired by paintings and engravings of Murillo, Caravaggio, Füssli and many others. All these stories live now again in the streets, brought back into contemporary life.

    Both artists underline once more how public space can be turned into an open air museum, where art teaches without any claims. Every artist gets inspired by someone else, but his copy is never passive — he gives us a new version of a work seen through his eyes. As the philosopher Edmund Husserl said, “all our sensations are influenced, we see everything through our history, our experience”. It is like watching the reality through new glasses, and no doubt we really like the view.