Zofia Rydet

Artist Zofia Rydet, recently rediscovered by the Warsaw based gallery Asymetria, created a fascinating series of photomontages titled “The World of Feelings and Imagination” from the 1960s-70s advancing surreal and Dadaist motifs, while she also worked in photo reportage inspired by the meta-national show “The Family of Man” which came to Warsaw in 1955. Rydet’s motifs such as the “Mannequins” and “Threat” have an obscure take on the post-war period in images where a soldier in a uniform more reminiscent of World War I (and therefore enhancing the stylistic reference to Dada) makes his appearance in abandoned alleys and ruins, his body de-collaged into a crippled ghostlike pose.

In other motifs Rydet invented a peculiar travesty by applying ‘masks’ of a woman and a man with eerily deformed faces to the bodies of female and male protagonists positioned in oppressive domestic milieus and in nostalgic rural scenes, which seem to be taken from Rydet’s reportage work. In some cases the stone-faced introvert female mask is attached to a male body creating a subtext of androgyny in social milieus, which seems too geographically remote and anachronistic for such manipulations of gender masquerade. These works have a truly unfamiliar atmosphere where sensations of tenderness, violence and alienation are kept in an impenetrable balance.

Rydet’s work owns “a certain kind of understatement, an unexpected transition of vision. Inspired by that naïve iconography and simple minded narration, by primitive religiousness and atmosphere of folk adages and the memory of war – we enter the world of her own surreality.” (Ursula Czartoryska)