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MA – Dimensions of Emptiness / Artur Masternak

Opening: November 5, 2021, at 7:00 PM

Exhibition open until November 30, 2021.

Curator: Michalina W. Klasik

The exhibition is associated with the 11th Polish Print Triennial in Katowice.



“Where there is nothing, you will find everything,” – this is how the Chinese poet Su Dongpo describes emptiness. According to this statement, emptiness is the foundation of everything, constituting both a transcendent existence and non-existence. In Far Eastern art, it’s not just the forms that matter, but also the background, the spaces in between, leading to the celebration of emptiness. These, in turn, form the basis of Japanese aesthetics in the concept of “MA” – a term meaning “in-between space,” “interval,” or “pause.” The Kanji character for “MA” (間) is derived from two symbols, “door” and “sun.” Originally, this character consisted of a pictorial symbol representing the “moon” (月) – not the modern “sun” (日) – beneath the symbol for “gate” (門). This ideogram, depicting the delicate moment of moonlight shining through a gap in the door, fully expresses the two simultaneous components of a sense of place: the objective, given aspect, and the subjective, perceptible aspect. This narrow space symbolizes potential, openness, and freedom. Emptiness has been with me from the very beginning. The space of emptiness is filled with potential for imagination and sensory experience. Shyness before the emanating power of the blank sheet of paper, often associated with emptiness, frequently challenges the initial impulses of all concepts and ideas. How and in what way to fill the existing emptiness without indoctrinating it with content, form, and message? The paradoxical act of filling emptiness reveals its inspiring force, stimulating the thought process, eventually becoming part of the message. Emptiness penetrates, fills, and surrounds my works. Cut-out shapes, on the one hand, serve as a silent memory of form, on the other, they specify it. They constitute a contemplative experience, difficult to define, of a fragmented whole. The concept of “MA” now makes me look at my works in a new light, exploring the potential of silence not only within them but also around them. It constitutes them in a new dimension of perception and experience – the dimension of emptiness.

Artur Masternak


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