Art Opening: Maria Flawia Litiwin | The Lowest Relief
602 East Hastings
Vancouver, British Columbia
In this new body of work, Litwin uses wycinanki (pronounced vih-chee-nahn-kee), a Polish paper cutting tradition, to weave layered stories with personal memories, social history, symbolism and mythology. Each work stems from a significant autobiographical detail in the artist’s life. Yet the illustrations are stripped of overt personal narrative. The focus instead is on quintessential life experiences—those as simple and complex as birth and death; as fleeting or all encompassing as love, alienation, pain, fear or passion—that transcend gender, geography and culture.
Whimsical but touched with dark humour, the complex cuts, colours and patterns draw the eye in. Through these intricate details, one’s mind is eased into the absurdity of memory. In this space the recollections of the artist become a jumping off point for the experiences of the viewer. The fantastical vignettes—with elaborate costumes from Polish folk to Canadian plaid, animal and human actors, from a murder of crows to an armed attacker or a gentle lover—unsettle and disturb as they delight.
Maria Flawia Litwin is a visual artist who grew up in both Poland and Australia —figuratively straddling the Iron Curtain. She spent the last eighteen years living and working in Toronto. Encounters with communist and consumer ideologies within social and educational structures made Litwin sensitive to the fluid and shifty nature of belief systems. She is particularly concerned with the way changes in ideology manifest themselves in her figurative and literal environment. Marxism, feminism and humour greatly impacted her art production. Although trained as a sculptor, Litwin’s work is not medium specific and takes the form of textiles, data collecting, performance, acting, video photography, and fiction writing. Litwin holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art & Design and a Master’s degree from York University in Toronto.
Katherine Dennis, a Vancouver-based curator and researcher, has worked with a range of institutions, from historic houses to public museums and independent galleries. Her practice bridges disciplines—exhibition making, public programming and visitor studies—and places, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Currently, Katherine is Adult Public Programs Coordinator at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Research Associate at Pivotal Research Inc.