When beauty arises out of complexity, it is sometimes hard to be able not only to appreciate it but also comprehend it, which might be the case while looking at Vernal, a series by Polish artist Urszula Kluz-Knopek (b. 1985). The concept of “there’s no return to nature” developed by Donna Haraway, has been used to interpret the series, with the assumption that the relationship between culture and nature cannot be undone. Haraway even presents the term natureculture, defined as the “result of implosions of the discoursive realms of nature and culture”. This implosion is what can be detected in Kluz-Knopek’s work: all the elements involved are highly recognisable, but their interaction proves to be unusual and at times disturbing, also for their peculiar eroticism. It seems that we cannot observe nature any longer without a cultural understanding of it: having in mind this particular dichotomy is a key to understand Vernal.
The series features staged portraits and still-lifes in which the artist is also present. The interactions staged between the subjects is what makes the series captivating with a supernatural touch; The massive use of the colour white seems to address purity, but its flawlessness results in the unnatural, as if giving a sense of ‘paradise lost’ and of irretrievable innocence.