Layú is a solo exhibition of new works by Polish artist Magda Skupinska. The show’s title translates to “Land”, a word originating from Isthmus Zapotec, an indigenous language spoken on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the southern part of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The body of work offers a window into the process and exploration of organic materials, which the artist was exposed to when relocating her practice in the Pacific coast of Mexico over the last year.
Extending Skupinska’s investigation of the natural world and its phenomena, the exhibition presents a series of works created with two main organic materials – palm and corn. Skupinska used ground corn as the pigments of her paints in its four original colours (white, yellow, red and blue). For the basis of her canvases, leaves obtained from palm trees were woven by five women from the Zapotec community in Santo Domingo Albarradas – a traditional craft passed down from generations, solely among women. This technique is not only a collective activity; it is organic, meticulous and closely tied to nature – all expressions that point to Skupinska’s oeuvre. The essential character and process of these two plants are a translation of Skupinska’s artistic inquiry in relation to community-based crafts through her recent consideration of Indigenous cultures. Drawing from modernist traditions through her biomorphic shapes, Skupinska’s body of work stimulates the basis of our being and pays homage to the rituals and traditions of indigenous cultures. In a sensory environment of texture, colour and smell, the works as a whole highlight a closer reconnection to nature through familial intimacy. Acting as visual totems of memory and nostalgia, each painting seems as though it possesses a forgotten narrative of the natural world that we are inherently part of, and one that the artist insists on us remembering.