The Fern Flower – exhibition by Michał Jeliński

Kwiat paproci - wystawa Michała Jelińskiego

Michał Jeliński

We gladly invite you to ‘The Fern Flower’ – an exhibition of photographs by our member Michał Jeliński. The opening event is scheduled at 4.30 pm on sunday, November 12th at Kolonia Artystyczna gallery, Dębowa 3 st., Zalesie Górne. Following sunday, on November 19th at 5 pm, a meeting with the artist will be held. The exhibition will be open until November 24th.

Please note that the gallery is open to public friday to sunday from 1 to 8 pm. Should you wish to pay a visit at a different day or time, please contact gallery staff.

Gallery location and telephone numbers:

Michał Jeliński’s homepage:

Below we present sample pictures and an essay on the exhibition by Marcin Bogdanowicz.

The fern flower – overcoming solitude


“Solitude is holy, simple, untainted and most pure of all human things. Solitude does not want to deceive anyone, nobody flutters, nothing hides, nothing makes up. It is quite naked and without ornaments, does not expose itself to public and does not seek applause.”

Francesco Petrarca, De vita solitaria


There is a polish tale called ‘The Fern Flower’. It is a story of a young and nosey boy, who hears the old folk of his village telling the story of fern flower and sets out to find it. Despite the common knowledge that ferns never flourish, it is said that on Midsummer Night – the shortest of all – in each forest a single fern flourishes. It is well hidden and the way to it is a hard and perilous one. The flower is inconspicuous at first, seems small and ugly. Once picked up however, it unfolds into a fair and radiant chalice.  Hardly anyone has ever seen the flower, nevertheless it is said that once found, it fulfils even most wondrous wishes. Through his art, Michał Jeliński invites us to seek for our own fern flower. But what does that mean?

In a certain way, each human being is solitary. Even though we are essentially social and we live in a society, though we create nets of contacts and support relationships, there is a particular part of humane existence we cannot share with others: our inner life. Ironically enough, it is the inner experience which is the purest and strongest, which Petrarch described beautifully in a quotation above. Inside us, there are no masks and there is no one we could deceive. Feelings resonate in our souls in the strongest way we will ever learn. Birth and death, sorrow and joy happen in our minds, but no effort would allow us to directly transmit an inner experience to another person – this is the intrinsic solitude of humane existence. Our eternal longing is to overcome this solitude.

Intellectual communication does not fulfil our longing. Once outspoken, words sound lifeless, stripped of the intensity of inner sensation. Logical communication’s flaw is its one-sidedness. Logical message demands to be comprehensible in and of itself, without receiver and independently of him or her. But what would happen, if one decided to fully depend on another, to speak in uncertainty, putting all hope for being understood in the receiver? The act of communication will occur only if the receiver has experienced something similar to what is being transmitted and the speaker would use words or phrases capable of re-arousing this feeling or emotion. Outspoken words, once bare and stark, would flourish promptly in the mind of another, just as they touch his adequate memories or experiences. Such is the way of poetry.

Michał Jeliński’s ‘The Fern Flower’ uses the language of poetry. The exhibition resembles a collection of poems, but images, not words, are the means of expression – and just like words’ in poetry, their purpose is merely to transmit the essence. Jeliński has shot frames of reality which touched his inner experience, yet he didn’t dominate photographs with his own personality. Instead, he searched for the universal experience within himself, not seeking artificial objectivity but stripping layer after layer of passing emotions, feelings, tastes and knowledge, aiming right at the core of his own humanity. Looking at the images we get an impression, that the author had backed away and let the pictures mirror what was left of himself ‘without himself’.

The author has left a mark on his art – it cannot be avoided. After all, it is only his own humanity he could explore. This is why we are able to get to know Michał Jeliński in a way unmatched by even the longest talks. His inner world, embedded in photographs, is left open before us. As we are able to receive his art only through our own inner world, a journey into his photographs becomes a journey into ourselves. Jeliński’s accomplishment is that he doesn’t impose his feelings on the viewer. Overcoming the personal, he created art available for everyone, leaving enough space for each of us to set out on a journey of our own experience and interpretation. Thus the image is in viewers hands.

Notwithstanding image’s ‘availability’, the act of receiving photography is one of great effort. It resembles a journey to the fern flower, of which the tale says: ‘the way to the flower is very hard and dangerous (…) numerous fears distract you, defend and fence off the way; extraordinary courage is needed to get to the flower. It is said, that the flower itself is hard to discern, it seems to be tiny, unattractive and unobtrusive.’ These are the barriers that dwell inside of us. However, it is worth trying, as ‘once picked up, the flower becomes like a chalice, radiant and fair’. Should the viewer repeat artist’s effort to grasp the experiences embodied in the images, they would both overcome their intrinsic solitude and… grasp their common fern flower.

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