Presence Is A Virtue: Fitzrovia Chapel Falls Home To Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynski's Latest Work

by Christina Donoghue on 31 October 2022

The artist duo Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynski's new performance work Liminal taps into a lacking sense of presence in modern life.

The artist duo Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynski's new performance work Liminal taps into a lacking sense of presence in modern life.

Entering the Fitzrovia Chapel in London last week, the walls had been overlaid with the 'breath' paintings of Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynski, conceived during lockdown in 2020. These art works take the human breath as their medium; a linear golden brush stroke is the physical record of Wilczynski's own exhale as she paints. Exhibited with a timesheet documenting the date and time of each single brush stroke, these ceremonial works are records of the physical yet intangible life force which binds us together, accumulated over 1,000 days.

Towards the end of the chapel, aligning the two Breath-lined walls, is an altar: the temporary home of Brandelli and Wilczynski's latest work Liminal. From afar, the unusual placement of square gold boxes seems to resemble a mystic game of chess, however, what lies beheath demands further consideration.

Carlo Brandelli + Ewa Wilczynski, Breath, 2020, installation view. Courtesy the artists

Acting as a continuation of their transformative spiritual work, Wilczynski and Brandelli's latest venture tackles the idea of performance - a theme woven in and out of their previous projects such as Bound 1 In A Liminal Possibility, 1000 Breath Paintings & Sculpture and Breath - only with a more literal take. Both Liminal and Breath are on show here, creating a dual presence that sits within a historic religious setting, one that subtly invites visitors to contemplate how spirituality exists in today's modern creative practices. This is not the first time the artists have chosen to exhibit in such a space; the duo returned to Brandelli's home town of Piacenza last year, where they chose the 16th century Sant'Agostino Church, Volumnia Gallery to exhibit their 1000 Breath Paintings & Sculpture.

Tying into the above performative works, Liminal feeds upon the themes of energy, connection and interaction which continue to fascinate the artists. However, instead of the duo presenting their findings in 2D, Liminal invites the viewer to interact entirely with the work. I was privileged enough to experience a one-to-one performance with Brandelli and Wilczynski, which is based on their relationship and interaction with the participant. At the centre of the work is a box holding small precious objects created by the artists. Building on the idea of performance and interaction, Liminal invites the viewer to be completely present, partaking in a back-and-forth exchange of placing miniature couture objects - designed by the artists - on a custom-made board. The cold exterior of the board provides a soundtrack for the interaction, mirroring an environment which reflects a dedication to feeling and connection.

Carlo Brandelli + Ewa Wilczynski, Liminal Gesture, installation view. Courtesy the artists

The individually thought-out texture of each miniature couture item helps the racing modern mind to focus. The objects range in size and weight, from hand-sculpted porcelain dolls dressed in draped latex and secured by frictional forces only without seams or glue, to gold-plated items, all of which gravitate towards this physical exchange of objects and the intangible sensations which arise. While the exchange is taking place, Brandelli and Wilczynski are cladded in modest laboratory-style primary blue coats. The reason? To take as much attention away from them as possible. As much as this is a performance, it's clear that Brandelli and Wilczynski are not the ones performing but rather observing, as the viewer becomes participant.

What's unique about Liminal is that it requires one to be fully present in the moment, a rarity considering the many distractions thrown at us by daily life. Even when we think we're wholly present in the moment, we're only one notification away from being distracted again, one niggling thought that can take us out of the concentration zone and into a chaos-fuelled world.

Liminal Breath took place in Fitzrovia Chapel, London between 24 - 28 October.

Carlo Brandelli + Ewa Wilczynski, Liminal



Interview: Carlo Brandelli

18 December 2013
Designer Carlo Brandelli interviewed by Lou Stoppard on 3 January 2014 as a part of SHOWstudio’s ‘In Fashion’ series.

Interview: Carlo Brandelli and Artist Ewa Wilczynski on Their New Spirit Paintings

04 February 2021
Carlo Brandelli and artist Ewa Wilczynski reveal their latest works made in lockdown.

Fashion, Art and Spirituality Become One: Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynski's Works Travel To Italy

05 November 2021
Combining performance art, painting, sculpture, costume and sound, two of the collaborators' impactful works travel to the Carlo Mollino apartment and Sant'Agostino Church Volumnia Gallery this November.
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