They Respect Nothing
In They Respect Nothing, Radek Szlaga returns to his childhood memories spent in the village of Ochotnica, situated at the foot of Mount Szlagówka in Gorce, where part of the Szlaga family comes from. A significant object is stuck in Szlaga’s memory: a decrepit Fiat 126p, turned into a chicken coop. Once this kind of a car was the sign of prosperity and modernity, decades later it is taken over by chickens and children. The title of the painting references a phrase often uttered by the artist’s grandparents, the owners of the farm – “they respect nothing”, an expression of older people’s disagreement with changes that seem inevitable. Szlaga treats this quote with both irony and nostalgia.
The image is clearly divided into two colour zones with a light yellow streak at the top – it resembles an old photographic plate, on which two images have been partially preserved. One depicts a childhood scene: a Fiat, chickens, mountains and a mountain road. The second one is illegible; actually it is just an irregular smear of colour. At first glance, the whole seems to be an unfinished painting on canvas and attached paper. However, a few details are quite suggestive and the transparent colours indicate Szlaga’s sensitivity toward the presented subject. They respect nothing is like a photographic film of his memory, with which he shows the changes that took place in the now mythical world of his childhood. The film is in a bad condition; it shows signs of damage resulting from being kept in poor conditions. The artist points out that nowadays, the memories of the past, even those not too distant, are not cherished nor respected. The material and emotional signs of the past that shaped the artist remain only in his memory, but even there they are fading away.