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Article

Mural as a Living Element of Urban Space: Seasonal Dynamics and Social Perception of “The Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw

by
Aleksander Cywiński
* and
Anita Karyń
*
Pedagogy Institute, University of Szczecin, 70-451 Szczecin, Poland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Arts 2024, 13(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13040117
Submission received: 30 May 2024 / Revised: 23 June 2024 / Accepted: 8 July 2024 / Published: 10 July 2024

Abstract

:
Street art, with a particular emphasis on murals, plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural DNA of contemporary cities. A prime example of this is the mural “Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw, which is dedicated to the renowned Polish artist Kora (Olga Jackowska). This large-scale mural, which combines the artist’s portrait with a chestnut tree motif, visually changes with the season, influencing the artist’s social perception. This study analyzed murals’ functions in social, cultural, and ecological contexts, highlighting their role in informal education and as a platform for social dialogue and integration. Using research methods such as visual analysis and examining comments and reactions on social media, this work aimed to understand how a mural integrates with its surroundings and is perceived throughout different seasons. The results indicated that the mural has become an important element of public space, not only for beautifying the city but also for stimulating social and cultural reflection.

1. Introduction

In the dynamically changing landscape of contemporary cities, street art has become an integral part of cultural DNA, offering residents not only aesthetic enhancement but also a platform for social dialogue and reflection. Street art, defined as a form of artistic activity in public space that combines various artistic techniques (Gunia 2012), is increasingly appearing in cities worldwide. It is an integral part of the “social discourse occurring in urban space” (Laskowski 2012, p. 91). Although street art was initially associated with illegal activities by anonymous creators (Schwartzman 1985; Gunia 2012; Gralińska-Toborek 2019), the original assumptions of illegality and lack of institutional connections are now giving way to aesthetic dimensions (Kowalewska 2013).
Street art is a form of artistic expression presented in public spaces. Its types are diverse and can include graffiti, murals, stencils, installations, and many others. Street art plays an important role in social life and education for several key reasons, which we have defined during the literature analysis and seminar discussions. The key functions for social life and education include the following:
(a)
Democratization of art: Street art makes artwork accessible to a broader audience, regardless of social or economic status. Unlike galleries or museums, which may be perceived as elitist, street art is available to anyone passing by.
(b)
Social and political commentary: Street artists often use their work as a way to communicate with the public on social, political, or environmental topics. Thus, street art has become a tool for raising awareness and stimulating discussion on important issues.
(c)
Revitalizing urban spaces: Street art can contribute to the revitalization of neglected or monotonous urban spaces, giving them new character and meaning. Many cities around the world treat murals and other forms of street art as part of strategies for revitalizing and improving the quality of life for residents.
(d)
Informal education: Street art can serve an educational role, offering people informal lessons in history, culture, or society. By seeing and interpreting various works, residents and tourists can learn about local realities, the history of a place, or current social events.
(e)
Inspiration and creativity: Street art inspires people to think creatively and appreciate art in everyday life. These works can encourage reflection, conversation, and engagement in creative processes.
(f)
Social inclusion: Street art projects often involve local communities, engaging residents in the creative process. This builds a sense of community and belonging and allows for the expression of voices often overlooked in traditional cultural discourses (Trajtenberg 2021; Fiel 2020; Mazzucotelli Salice 2010; Parselis 2020; Gonçalves and Milani 2022; Bengtsen and Jürgens 2023; Perzycka-Borowska et al. 2023, 2024; Leahy 2024).
Despite sometimes being controversial and subject to debates about the legality of some of its forms, street art is an important element of the contemporary cultural landscape. It contributes to the democratization of public space, education, and the enrichment of social life.

2. Murals and Their Functions in Urban Spaces

One of the more popular forms of contemporary street art are murals (Latin: muralis—located on a wall, wall painting), which are most often defined as large-scale paintings created on the external or internal walls of buildings (Susanto et al. 2017; Rahman et al. 2020), “aimed at both ‘diversifying’ and ‘revitalizing’ spaces, as well as conveying a specific message” (Pasieczny 2016, p. 57).
Murals are thoughtful works integrated into public spaces, constituting not only an element of street art but also urban art, as they are most often created in cities or public art, meaning “any kind of artistic intervention and expression in urban spaces” (Moch 2016, p. 19). This work aimed to explore the multidimensionality of a specific piece by examining its impact on urban space and social perception.
A review of the literature on murals as street art and their significance in urban spaces indicates that authors address various issues related to murals. Among them, significant publications highlight the differences between murals and street art (Gralińska-Toborek and Kazimierska-Jerzyk 2014; Abarca 2016) or justify the inclusion of murals in street art (Niziołek 2015). Considerable attention has also been given to the functions murals serve in urban spaces. Murals can fulfil many functions.
One of these functions is aestheticization (Welsch 1996). Murals can transform dull, neglected walls into artistic masterpieces, adding beauty and color to the urban landscape. They also serve as a form of social and political communication. Murals often become a means of expression and are used to convey strong social or political messages, inspiring reflection or social action.
Another function can be related to cultural expression. Murals can depict local traditions, history, and values, helping to preserve cultural heritage. The educational function is extremely important as well. Educational murals can illustrate significant historical events or scientific achievements or raise awareness about environmental issues. Mural projects often involve the local community, promoting collaboration and strengthening a sense of identity and belonging.
Thus, they can function to integrate the community around important ideas or events. Painting murals in areas that are often targets for graffiti can also prevent vandalism. Unique and meaningful murals attract tourists, which can contribute to revitalizing the local economy. Murals also provide artists with a space to express themselves and share their work with a wider audience (see Niziołek 2015, pp. 59–74).
Murals bring multidimensional value to a city, from aesthetic to educational, social, cultural, economic, and even preventive.

3. Four Seasons with Kora: An Artistic Educational and Environmental Challenge

In January 2019, a mural dedicated to the Polish artist Kora was created in Warsaw. The mural was designed so that a nearby tree is part of its composition. The mural’s author is Bruno Althamer. The artwork can be admired at 18/20 Nowy Świat Street in Warsaw (see Figure 1).
Kora, whose real name was Olga Jackowska (born 8 June 1951 and died 28 July 2018), was a prominent Polish singer, composer, and lyricist, best known as the charismatic leader of the legendary Polish rock band Maanam. Her life and artistic career are a vivid example of passion, creativity, and relentless struggle for her place in the music scene, both in Poland and beyond (Kubisiowska 2023).
Kora’s career began in the 1970s when she joined the group Maanam, founded by her future husband, guitarist Marek Jackowski. The band quickly gained popularity due to its energetic live performances and unique blend of rock, punk, and new wave, in which Kora played a key role with her distinctive vocals and stage presence. Their debut album, “Maanam” (1980), and subsequent releases such as “O!” (1982) and “Nocny patrol” (1983), as well as the English-language version of this album, brought the band a series of hits that became timeless classics of Polish rock music (Kubisiowska 2023).
Beyond music, Kora was also known for her social and charitable activities. Always ready to speak out in defense of human rights, especially for women and minorities, she was a symbol of a strong, independent woman who was not afraid to address controversial topics, becoming the Polish equivalent of Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, or Debbie Harry.
Her style and persona inspired not only music fans but also fashion designers and cultural creators. Kora was a style icon known for her eccentric outfits and distinctive makeup, which only amplified her stage aura and influence on the Polish music scene.
In her later career, Kora explored various musical directions, releasing solo albums that showcased her versatility as an artist. Her solo work, although perhaps less commercial, was a testament to her artistic soul, constantly seeking new expressions and forms.
Kora’s illness and death in 2018 were great blows to the Polish music scene and culture. Through her life and work, Kora left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of many generations. Her music, full of passion, rebellion, and independence, remains a living testament to her extraordinary talent and personality, inspiring future generations of seekers of beauty and truth in music.
Kora’s contribution to Polish musical culture is invaluable. As an artist who transcended musical genres, she inspired and will continue to inspire not only musicians but also all those who seek authenticity, strength, and courage to live according to their beliefs. Kora, through her work and a life full of passion, remains an eternal symbol of freedom and artistic independence. Therefore, it is not surprising that her life and work have been commemorated through such extraordinary and unconventional artistry.

4. Research Objectives and Methods

We emphasize that “the issue of murals, or more broadly–street art, is addressed by representatives of various humanities and social sciences” (Statucki 2019, p. 108). Marcus Banks points out that “no matter how narrow and specific the research project is, at some level, every study says something about society in general, and because society is permeated by images, they must at some point become a subject of interest” (Banks 2009, p. 23). However, there are few methodological studies specifically focused on street art (see, e.g., Lynn and Lea 2005; Snyder 2009; Hansen and Flynn 2015; Andron 2017; Fransberg et al. 2023). Their reading allows us to conclude that street art is characterized mainly by the results of qualitative research from ethnographic methods through in-depth interviews to visual data sets (Fransberg et al. 2023).
This work employed a critical visual methodology (Rose 2016). The focus was on the analysis of the mural using primarily compositional interpretation. This was a compositional interpretation within the framework of critical visual methodology. Gillian Rose indicates, “Compositional interpretation is a very particular way of looking at images. It focuses most strongly on the image itself, and although it pays most attention to its compositionality, it also pays some attention to its production. […] In art connoisseurship, a note is usually made of aspects of the social modality of its production: who commissioned it, why, who painted it, and what then happened to it before it ended up in its current location” (Rose 2016, p. 61).
Compositional interpretation includes content, color schemes, spatial organization, light, and expressive content. The aim of the present research was to analyze the function and significance of the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural, which is located in Warsaw. Rose states, “That is, it is crucial to look very carefully at the image or images in which you are interested, because the image itself has its own effects. These effects are always embedded in social practices, of course, and may well be negotiated by the image’s audiences” (Rose 2016, p. 56).
This is also the case with the mural “Four Seasons with Kora,” whose photographs from all seasonal perspectives have been placed on the internet, thus reaching a wide audience. The project also aimed to understand how this mural integrates with the surrounding natural environment and how it changes seasonally. The choice of this mural was not accidental, as its unique connection with nature represents an innovative artistic approach worthy of detailed investigation.
The research methods were defined as exploratory and qualitative, meaning that the goal was to understand the deeper meanings and functions of the artwork rather than to quantify it. This emphasizes an interest in deeper understanding and interpretation rather than simple description or quantitative analysis. It allows researchers to identify subtler, more complex aspects of art that can reveal new perspectives on its value, impact, and significance.
Images of the mural taken at different times were used for the analysis, allowing an understanding of its variability and dynamics in the context of different seasons. Additionally, this analysis used photographic documentation to understand how the image is perceived by observers and how it interacts with the community, as well as how its perception changes under different circumstances. The public’s reactions to the seasonally changing image were analyzed. This was possible because the photographer Łukasz J. Mitkä de Berzé shared photos of the mural online on social media. The hypothesis behind this approach was that aspects of the visual sphere have a significant impact that is worth studying (Bryson 1991, p. 71).
Moreover, an analysis of the content of comments and reactions to mural posts was conducted, referring to the theory of social representations, which assumes a collective vision of a given phenomenon in the cultural sphere. Serge Moscovici, the creator of this theory, defines social representations as follows: “social representations are understood as a system of values, ideas and practices fulfilling a dual function: first, they establish a certain order that provides individuals with an orientation in their material and social world and its mastery; secondly, they enable communication among members of a given community, equipping them with codes for social exchanges, as well as naming and unambiguously classifying various aspects of their world as well as individual and group history” (Herzlich and Moscovici 1973, p. xiii), which strengthens the social identity of the group (Wagner et al. 1999, p. 98).
The advantage of this approach is the possibility of gaining deeper insight into the social and cultural context in which the mural operates. This allows researchers to examine how street art affects urban spaces and their inhabitants and how it can serve as a medium for expressing local identity or conveying important social messages.
In achieving the research objectives, it is important to emphasize that not only the mural as an artistic object but also its interactions with the environment and the audience were studied. Therefore, not only the mural itself and its visual aspects but also its reception, interpretations, and impact on the community and environment are important. In this way, this work can contribute to a broader understanding of the role of street art in the life of a city and its residents and can serve for further research on the impact of art on public space and society.
As Sarah Pink emphasizes, photography is connected to reality in a particular way and participates in its construction. She states, “Photography […] do nevertheless bear some relationship to reality. However the connection between visual images and experienced reality is constructed through individual subjectivity and interpretation of images” (Pink 2013, p. 24). Through visual analysis and photographic documentation, this study aimed to uncover how street art affects the urban fabric and social perception.

5. Compositional Interpretation

Compositional interpretation focuses primarily on the structural composition of the image itself (Rose 2016, p. 61).

5.1. Content

The work is a portrait combined with the motif of a chestnut tree growing nearby. The tree has become part of the work, allowing the mural to react to the seasons and change along with them. The choice of this tree does not seem accidental. Chestnut trees often exhibit rich symbolism in various cultures, and their presence in the literature, art, or folk traditions can have diverse meanings (Wiśniewski and Kiełczewski 2004). It can symbolize strength and resilience, as the chestnut tree is large and solid. Its presence in literature or art often highlights these features, pointing to its ability to survive difficult conditions. In folk medicine, chestnut fruits are used to treat various ailments, making the tree a symbol of health and healing (Ziółkowska 1983). The chestnut tree also has medicinal properties in traditional medicine, for example, it is used to treat varicose veins and other circulation problems. The chestnut tree is also known for its abundant yield of chestnuts, which are a food source for many animals. This can symbolize abundance and the generosity of nature (Wiśniewski and Kiełczewski 2004).
The blooming of the chestnut tree, which is dense and spectacular, often heralds the arrival of spring, making it a symbol of renewal and new beginnings. In some cultures, it is believed that the chestnut tree has protective properties. Carrying a chestnut in your pocket was thought to protect against pain and disease. In a broader context, this tree can symbolize shelter and safety. As a large and long-lived tree, the chestnut tree can also be a symbol of durability and memory. In some places, chestnut trees are planted as monuments or in memory locations, enhancing their symbolism related to permanence and historical memory (Wiśniewski and Kiełczewski 2004).
Each of these meanings can be explored in various contexts through the analysis of this work. It can certainly be said that the mural is a tribute to the memory of the artist, celebrating not only her life and career but also highlighting her unforgettable contribution to Polish culture and music. It emphasizes her strength, character, and courage to be different. Due to its artistic execution and symbolism, this mural has become a point of interest not only for fans of Kora and Maanam but also for street art enthusiasts.
By critically analyzing the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural as a visual representation that changes over time, we focused on various aspects of symbolism and education, referring to the artist’s work and broadly understood ecological and artistic education.
When analyzing the work, it is worth noting how the different elements of the mural may be associated with specific seasons, Kora’s life, and her musical career. Each season, reflecting different stages of the artist’s life and work, offers a unique perspective on her legacy as well as broad ecological and cultural awareness.
Spring: The lush green leaves and flowers indicate a time of renewal, reflecting Kora’s impact on the Polish music scene. The mural in this season represents a new beginning, full of innovation and blossoming, similar to the start of her career.
Summer: The rich green leaves represent the peak of life and thus the peak of Kora’s artistic career. This is a time of abundance, reflecting the wealth and maturity of her output.
Autumn: The colorful leaves that begin to fall are a metaphor for transition and reflection, reminding us of Kora’s lasting legacy. This phase speaks to the cycle of life and art, where every end is a prelude to a new beginning.
Winter: The bare branches against the background emphasize dormancy and the harshness of loss, reflecting Kora’s passing. However, even without leaves, the tree stands strong, mirroring her enduring presence in music.
Incorporating nature into art reflects not only the beauty and complexity of the natural world but also underscores our deep, though often forgotten, dependence on the environment. This connection can provoke reflection, inspire change, and bring aesthetic pleasure. The mural, which changes with the season, can be a powerful educational tool for teaching about the transience of life, the importance of each phase, and the eternal influence of cultural icons such as Kora. Antonio Vivaldi’s musical work “The Four Seasons” comes to mind, capturing the essence of each season through sound.

5.2. Color Scheme

Color is a key component of the compositional structure of an image. In the case of the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural, colors in the composition serve many different functions and add depth to the interpretation of this work. Hue, saturation, and value are essential elements in color theory (Rose 2016, p. 64) and play a crucial role in the creation and interpretation of visual works, including murals.
Hue is a basic color, such as red, green, blue, etc. It is the first aspect of color that is noticeable and serves to identify colors in the most basic way. In the context of a mural combined with nature, hue can play a key role in conveying the theme of the work. In the case of the discussed work, the hues change under the influence of the changing seasons. The symbolism of colors also seems important. Different colors can symbolize various aspects of nature or emotions. For example, the greening dominating the mural in spring is often associated with growth, nature, and calmness, while the oranges, yellows, browns, and reds that dominate the mural in autumn can symbolize energy, passion, or danger. The way colors are combined can influence the public’s reception of the mural. Harmonious combinations, such as shades of green and blue (spring) and green and white (summer), can create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. On the other hand, contrasts, such as red contrasting with the bright shades of the artist’s face (autumn) and black and white, can not only attract attention and add meaning through symbols but also emphatically highlight important elements of the entire composition, especially in the context of the changing seasons.
Saturation refers to the intensity of a color with respect to its brightness. In the case of the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural, the colors in spring, summer, and early autumn are often highly saturated. In the mural, saturation can affect how “vivid” or “natural” the depicted elements appear. For example, more saturated greens can make vegetation look healthier or more vital. In spring, early autumn, and summer, color saturation can typically be described as lively and full of energy, while in winter and late autumn, the dominant color or colors are of low saturation. The colors are more subdued and muted.
The value determines the brightness of a color. Colors can have different values, ranging from very light (close to white) to very dark (close to black). The primary value of the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural (Kora’s face) is very light. However, the part of the mural created from nature changes depending on the season and weather. Value is essential in composing an image because it affects how elements are visible in different lighting conditions and the overall atmosphere and depth of the image. It seems that in the mural, values are used to create the illusion of depth, accentuate certain elements, or build emotional tension.
Hue, saturation, and value are three components of color that work together to create visual dynamics in a work of art and can be used to convey different moods, themes, and emotions. In the context of a mural combined with nature, such as “Four Seasons with Kora,” the appropriate choice of hue, saturation, and value significantly influences how nature is depicted, the feelings the mural evokes, and the overall impression it leaves on the viewer. The use of realistic colors directly sourced from nature makes the mural more natural and realistic. This also gives the work a dynamic character. The colors that appear and change with the season significantly affect the atmosphere and mood that the mural evokes. Bright, warm colors present during spring, summer, and early autumn make the space more open, friendly, and energetic. Dark, cool shades that shape space in late autumn and winter can introduce elements of mystery or melancholy.

5.3. Spatial Organization

Rose states, “All images organise their space in some way, and there are two related aspects of this organisation to consider—the organisation of space ‘within’ an image, and the way the spatial organisation of an image offers a particular viewing position to its spectator” (Rose 2016, p. 66).
The location of the mural is significant, especially in the context of this work, which seems complex. On the one hand, the spatial organization in the context of the artwork placed in the urban space must be considered. A mural in an urban environment is adapted to the specific architecture and surroundings in which it is situated. Its perception depends on the viewing angle: whether seen close to or from a distance, from the street, or from a nearby building’s window. All these aspects influence how we perceive the mural and what message we derive from it.
When the mural is presented on the internet, it somewhat loses its direct connections with the specific place and sociocultural context and becomes a more “universal” work of art. Photographs of the mural focus on its variability under the influence of seasonal changes and the details associated with this dynamic. In the urban space, a viewer has to wait a long time for noticeable changes related to the seasons. Every day and every day, the mural may be slightly different, but in spring, one will not see the mural in its winter or autumn version. Online, the viewer can control how and when they view the mural through photographs, giving them greater freedom of interpretation. Additionally, the viewer can immediately observe the dynamics of the changing work influenced by the seasons.
In urban spaces, murals can encourage viewers to interact, for example, by taking photos or sharing them on social media. Online, the mural can be accessible to a wide audience, changing how it is perceived and understood. Depending on who is viewing the mural and in what context, various emotions can be evoked and interpreted in different cultural contexts, both local and global. Analyzing the mural “Four Seasons with Kora” in the context of its spatial organization, both visual and social, reveals the diverse ways in which it is perceived and interpreted, changing based on context and media.

5.4. Light

The intensity and direction of light can also change depending on the depicted season, affecting the mood and perception of time in the mural. The mural can manipulate perspective in such a way that the viewer feels immersed in the scene or compelled to change their viewpoint depending on the depicted season. This is achieved through painting techniques that create the illusion of depth and the specific arrangement of elements in the mural.
Rose noted, “The light shown in both still and moving images is clearly related to both its colours and its spaces” (Rose 2016, p. 78). The light in the mural depends on the season and the time of day, and this significantly influences the expressive content and reception of the work. Natural light not only affects how colors and shapes on the mural are perceived but also adds dynamism to it. Daylight intensifies and changes the perception of colors on the mural. Morning light imparts warmer tones, highlighting the warm colors of the image, while afternoon light brings out cooler shades. The tree incorporated into the mural casts shadows at specific times, adding depth and three-dimensional information to the image. These shadows change and shift depending on the sunlight angle, making the mural dynamic and variable throughout the day.
Light also emphasizes certain aspects of the mural, creating strong contrasts (such as Kora’s lips and eyes) or softly illuminating the entire face. This affects how the mural communicates with the viewer and how it harmonizes or contrasts (depending on the season and time of day) with its surroundings. Therefore, light is of crucial importance; it is not only an aesthetic element but also functional and symbolic in the context of the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural.

5.5. Expressive Content

Expressive content is understood as the combined impact of the subject matter of the image and its visual form. Therefore, “what may be needed is some imaginative writing that tries to evoke its affective characteristics” (Rose 2016, p. 79). In public art, such as murals, expressive content plays a vital role in engaging the community, conveying cultural narratives, and creating spaces for dialogue and reflection. The affective properties of an image are features that evoke an emotional response from the viewer. These properties are extremely important in visual art, as they often determine the impact of the work on the audience, allowing for deeper emotional engagement and influencing the interpretation and evaluation of the image by the community.
Thus, the artist (Bruno Althamer) used the affective properties of the mural to convey specific messages and ideas that were close to Kora’s heart. The emotional reactions elicited by the mural help people communicate deeper meanings that may not be immediately apparent on a purely intellectual level. Mural reactions can vary depending on the viewer’s cultural background and personal experiences and values. A person who is perceived as moving or controversial in one culture may not experience strong emotions in another.

5.6. Analysis of the Post Regarding the Mural

The subject of analysis also included reactions and comments under a post from 28 September 2019, on Kora’s (2019) Facebook page. This post, featuring the photos we analyzed, has the following description:
“Mural for all seasons, just like Kora and Maanam’s songs
#happy_moments_are_butterflies” (Kora 2019).
The post garnered 3.8 thousand reactions and 96 comments and was shared 255 times (as of 19 April 2024). Since the presented post essentially focuses on the mural, we assume that all reactions refer specifically to it rather than to the photos themselves or any irrelevant architectural elements in the background. By analyzing reactions and comments, one can reconstruct social representation.
The reception and reaction of the audience to the photos of the mural posted online are reflected on the comments. It is worth noting that the reception is decidedly positive. For most people, murals have sentimental value. The audience appreciates the concept, subject matter, and execution. People express admiration and fond memories associated with Kora. They appreciate the mural as a beautiful tribute and work of art that integrates well with nature, especially the way the tree complements the mural in different seasons, creating a dynamic hairstyle for the painted image. Comments on the mural depicting Kora Jackowska express deep respect and admiration for the artist and the work of the mural’s creator.
The comments also included emotional statements highlighting personal connections with Kora’s music and how much she meant to her fans. Some see the mural as a symbol of her continued presence, with remarks about its beauty regardless of the season. Others recognize the creativity behind the concept, expressing that it is an appropriate tribute to a beloved figure. There is a sentiment of gratitude towards the artist and those who came up with the idea for this memorial.
People also share their reflections on how the changing seasons affect the perception of the mural, given its different backgrounds and atmospheres, which seems to be an intentional interplay and interaction of art with nature. Some commenters note how the integration of work with the changing landscape evokes a sense of transience, which can be perceived as a metaphor for the artist’s life and human life in general.
A few comments mentioned her battle against cancer, suggesting that the mural also evokes memories of her struggle. Some people express interest in visiting the mural, asking about its location. There are occasional mentions of negative opinions, but they are rare compared to the overall sense of appreciation.
The comments span four years, showing that the mural continues to resonate with people over time, creating a consistent social representation. Some responses are expressions of thanks to the artist and the idea itself, implying that the community highly values both Kora and the mural. The comments revealed a strong sense of nostalgia and emotional connection, as well as admiration for how the changing tree added life and variety to the mural.
It is clear that the mural has become an important place of memory and tribute to artists, which is especially important for fans and city residents. Some comments include personal memories and longing for Kora, showing that her legacy is alive and meaningful to many people. The mural and the reactions to it demonstrate how art can create a lasting space for the shared experience and remembrance of outstanding individuals.

6. Summary

Street art often carries deep cultural and educational significance, reflecting not only the memory of notable figures but also conveying important social and ecological messages. The mural featuring Kora, inspired by “The Four Seasons,” is undoubtedly an excellent example of such socially necessary actions. This artistic work not only honors the artistic legacy of a great Polish artist but also highlights the variability of nature and the necessity of caring for the environment, which seems crucial in the context of climate change.
The mural “Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw was analyzed in terms of its impact on urban space and social perception. This work examined the mural as a dynamic cultural element that integrates with the natural cycles of the environment and plays a role in the ecological and cultural education of city residents. By presenting the mural as a living artistic installation, this study emphasized its ability to interact with the audience and adapt to changing environmental conditions. “Four Seasons with Kora” was analyzed for its unique feature—its seasonal variability, which affects the aesthetic and emotional experiences of viewers. The mural changes not only physically but also socially, as documented both in person and online.
This study used a qualitative approach, including visual analysis and observations, to explore how the mural affects viewers in different contexts. The methods employed allowed us to propose the following hypotheses: (1) street art can influence ecological and cultural awareness, (2) the mural has become a platform for education and dialogue, and (3) it integrates the community and promotes an understanding of the variability of the natural environment and the cultural heritage of the city. In conclusion, an affirmative answer to the above leads to the following conclusion: the mural, due to the number of people who observe it, potentially represents an opportunity in the socio-educational dimension for the development of an open society.
In conclusion, the “Four Seasons with Kora” mural is a significant cultural element that engages the public in reflecting on the variability of nature and the impact of art on urban life. The work indicates how street art can transcend the boundaries of traditional aesthetics, becoming an active participant in education and social life. This demonstrates that even in an indirect form, as a graphic representation, the artist can influence social life.
Due to its size, i.e., an area of several dozen square meters, and therefore the impossibility of covering it with a plexiglass plate or moving it to a gallery, it is an object that is particularly vulnerable to destruction, e.g., by vandals or air pollution. This fact adds another potential dimension to this work of art, which may indicate resonance with its surroundings (Pawłowska et al. 2023).
To conclude, if we were to ask, following William J.T. Mitchell (2005), what this image in the form of a seasonally changing mural wants from us, a possible answer might be: to remember that although everything passes, it returns, even if in a changed form. Its function and significance serve as a kind of memento akin to Stoicism.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, A.C. and A.K.; methodology, A.C. and A.K.; software, A.C. and A.K.; validation, A.C. and A.K.; formal analysis, A.C. and A.K.; investigation, A.C. and A.K.; resources, A.C. and A.K.; data curation, A.C. and A.K.; writing—original draft preparation, A.C. and A.K.; writing—review and editing, A.C. and A.K.; visualization, A.C. and A.K.; supervision, A.C. and A.K.; project administration, A.C. and A.K.; All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author due to the sensitivity of the research.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Figure 1. Four Seasons with Kora by Bruno Althamer. Photographer: Łukasz J. Mitkä de Berzé.
Figure 1. Four Seasons with Kora by Bruno Althamer. Photographer: Łukasz J. Mitkä de Berzé.
Arts 13 00117 g001
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Cywiński, A.; Karyń, A. Mural as a Living Element of Urban Space: Seasonal Dynamics and Social Perception of “The Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw. Arts 2024, 13, 117. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13040117

AMA Style

Cywiński A, Karyń A. Mural as a Living Element of Urban Space: Seasonal Dynamics and Social Perception of “The Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw. Arts. 2024; 13(4):117. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13040117

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cywiński, Aleksander, and Anita Karyń. 2024. "Mural as a Living Element of Urban Space: Seasonal Dynamics and Social Perception of “The Four Seasons with Kora” in Warsaw" Arts 13, no. 4: 117. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13040117

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