1. Asymetria / Wolskie Centrum Kultury
Empty Signifier / ArchiveMap →
Vahram Aghasyan, Zbigniew Dłubak, Daniil Galkin, Sharon Hayes, Barbara Kozłowska, Jarosław Kozłowski, Zbigniew Libera, Jerzy Lewczyński, Nikita Kadan, Anna Kutera, Romuald Kutera, Witek Orski, Harout Simonyan, Tomasz Szerszeń, Jan Świdziński curators: Rafał Lewandowski, Franciszek Orłowski cooperation: Jędrzej Kucznerowicz
Looking Glass, 1972/2019, artist’s print, 13x8 cm
An empty signifier is the kind of signifier that, once filled with meaning, has become unintelligible for us. The reasons for this can be related to the loss of social or cultural energy, and may also point to the signifier’s original meaning, lost in the course of historical processes.
The exhibition evokes conceptual empty signifiers, sets, and gestures present in innovative 1970’s Polish art work that art history has wrongly considered peripheral to mainstream contemporary art. It also attempts to indicate a relation between the capital of contextual art and the objects found in the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy archive.
The exhibition takes its point of departure in Objects that Question Other Objects (2019), a work by the Armenian conceptual artist Vahram Aghasyan.
The work’s origins go back to a banner used during the “Velvet Revolution” in Armenia in 2018. During the protests one of the banners proclaimed, “Long Live the Revolution of Love and Solidarity!” – a reference to the solidarity of the protesters as they stood up against an authoritarian regime.
Aghasyan’s banner proclaims, “Long Live the Revolution of Equality and Solidarity,” harkening back to the Anarcho-Communist motto of “liberty, equality, solidarity,” while pointing out its original inspiration and asking about the modifications it has undergone.
The gestures of the featured artists become questions about the contextual meaning of the archive. So can the problems of language be solved today on the level of art only?
2. BWA WarszawaBownik
Circle 1, 2018, inkjet print on archival paper, 150x137 cm
The first graphic arrangement of colors enclosed in a circle (in which selected rainbow colors were arranged in a diagram) was the work of Sir Isaac Newton in 1704. It was an arbitrary selection of eight colors meeting in the center of a circle. Since then, many color circles have been created with various numbers of fields and numerous models of color space. None of these images contain all the colors that the human eye can distinguish, but they comprise numerous colors from which one can compose an infinite number of hues – even those which have never been named and which the human eye cannot distinguish.
Bownik’s individual works within this series evoke peculiar color circles. However, they are not in any way organized or subjected to rules. The interpenetrating colors have not been named and – like in the rainbow – they blend at the edges. They assume subtle shades that merge with each other in unexpected ways. These are not the tones, schemes or arrangements we know from life’s iconosphere and their vibrant, ambiguous nature is emphasized by the coarse paper onto which they are printed.
Each wheel was created by photographing a spinning disk with a photograph or engraving depicting a bird that has gone extinct. In Bownik’s vision, the vivid, saturated colors of bird plumage dissolve and turn into a spinning spectroscopic apparition. The extinct birds have returned to life in mysterious forms – a spectre casting its shadow. Each Circle in the series is numbered, although it’s a transposition – an artistic registration of a specific representative of a nonexistent species. Spectrum birds no longer have proper nouns, just as our vocabulary doesn’t have the names for all the colors of time lost. Time eats its own children, but also eats the memory of them as well.
3. Dawid RadziszewskiŞerban Savu
Have You Ever Been to Abrud?, 2019, oil on canvas, 198x148 cm
The Solar Meditation Temple
At noon, as summer approaches, you feel the sun slipping through the rich crown and lighting it up, making it transparent and bright forever.
Kids in white T-shirts run towards the locker room to sink their heads under cold water, so that nothing remains of the mind darkened by the happiness of the trap.
You’re in their gaze, forgotten by everyone.
So deeply lowered and carried that you won’t remember where you ended up when you have returned to the solar meditation temple. You fell asleep on the bench and woke up to a concert in the garden, frozen in a frozen crowd.
Transfer the light from the hatch onto the children, even if the effort wears out your heart, and let them win, even if you won’t be welcomed in their flushed exhilaration. Whatever kept you still so far (believing that a secret law shortens people by 2 mm every year; the same law, which you don’t like but which has shielded you in moments of intensity, gives you more than it takes away at the noon replaced by the polaroid catch) places microphones and cameras in the simplest movement of the light front. For a few hundred bytes somebody will love you 200 years from now.
Now you can stand up and look for your girlfriend in the hatch park.
She’s lying in the grass, she’s the brutal, abstruse warmth in the passage to summer.
The Light of My LifeMap →
Curator: Jolanta Studzińska
City Space 1976, Design of a spacial form in public space in Chełm, 2015, PVC/acrylic, 78x78x23 cm, courtesy of ESTA Gallery
The exhibition Light of My Life is devoted to the work of Jan Chwałczyk. It presents a unique analysis on the topics of light, color formation, and color perception as defined by a Wrocław artist for over half a century.
Chwałczyk (1924–2018) not only left behind an intriguingly creative body of work, but also a vast amount of theoretical material containing documented studies on vital everyday problems, as well as issues influencing the fields of art and science. The subject of light was undoubtedly the focal point and greatest inspiration in the oeuvre of this exceptional artist and human being. Throughout the years he sought answers to questions about the reality which surrounds us and its fundamental phenomena which, under the blanket of certainty, contain many unexpected conclusions that undermine our conventional perception.
From the mid 1960’s through 2018, he created installations he referred to as Light Reproductors and Shadow Reproductors, including the series This Fantastic Shadow. These simple forms – geometric screens which function as a stage for a non-material, ephemeral and subjectively-perceived play of light and shadow serve as excellent responses to his research.
These objet d’art are subject to constant transformation much like the nature that surrounds us – giving the impression of a living object, while acting as tools to help capture illusions and contemplate our reality’s materiality.
5. Foksal Gallery FoundationWilhelm Sasnal
Untitled, 2018, courtesy of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation
Wilhelm Sasnal, Painting “These paintings are associated with the comic book I’m working on now. When I was researching the history of my ancestors and the kind of life they led, I discovered that women’s folk costumes used to be decorated with oil paint. I thought that I would relate to this by creating rural-themed paintings on canvas. The first painting was Courbet’s The Stone Breakers. Courbet matters to me on account of his dense style, his depiction of everyday life, naturalism, and nature. That’s why I made this painting and that’s why the rural peasant motifs are present. The appropriation of the image is important – the black and white painting based on black and white photography is reminiscent of the past, as if I made two steps back in time, into the past of the past”.
Artur Żmijewski, Gestures, Film and Photography “Gestures are derived from our day-to-day life – from the everyday rage and dislike people have towards others. Both to those different and towards everyone. Violence penetrates everyday life. Everyday, someone threatens someone else with a look, a word, a gesture. – from politicians to everyday people. I noticed that chronophotography works great for capturing the signs of dislike, hatred and violence. And although there is no sound in this paused “film”, vile shouting can be heard. I don’t know why, but shooting all of this is quite gratifying”.
6. Profile Foundation
I Am Asked about NothingMap →
22 Figurative Pictures, 1979, photograph on canvas, 92x92 cm
The multifaceted and diverse use of media in Andrzej Dłużniewski’s oeuvre escapes any obvious classification. His involvement in the neo-avant-garde movement, the conceptualization of his art, his affinity to Fluxus and above all – the scope of his artistic output (both in the field of visual arts and the written word) are clear. His body of work includes paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, sculptures, art objects, spatial installations, and even performance art. In his works, he often combined objects, images, and words, using them to both specify and differentiate each other. He deconstructed and redefined the concept of a painting in a series of works in Image of an Absent Picture (1978), reached the point of absurdity by using multiple, clustered configurations of words in Painting, Replica, Copy (1978), and demonstrated the different variants of a painting in 22 Figurative Pictures (1979) using a series of self portraits within a frame of a non-existent painting. He maintained a sense of humor when it came to the expectations of the art viewer, and was able to remove the viewer’s certainty by posing questions about the relationship between the meaning of words, their grammatical gender and their variations in other languages. By assigning color to gender, he explored the less-obvious relationship between the meaning of images and words, as well as their gender and colors.
Andrzej Dłużniewski’s work and commentary give us insight into his perverse dialogue with the tradition of modernism. His ironic work refers often to the way contemporary art functions and how it’s perceived, while also exploring philosophical and aesthetic inquiries about concepts often not related to art at all. His visual, textual and intellectually-provocative work initiated in the 1970’s continued until the artist’s death in 2012.
7. HOS GalleryThomas Rentmeister
Muda, 2011, various materials, 385x1195x1145 cm, exhibition view from Kunstmuseum Bonn, photo: Bernd Borchardt, courtesy of Thomas Rentmeister
Leigh Robb, a curator at the Art Gallery of South Australia, remarks that Thomas Rentmeister “…selects a set of industrially mass-produced domestic materials and uses them as units or building blocks – from sugar cubes and cotton tips to Tempo tissues, electrical sockets and whole refrigerators.” Christoph Schreier of the Kunstmuseum in Bonn says, “His art is never a hermetic, self-contained work or an aesthetic monad – the identity of the ‘non-artistic’ materials always remain recognizable. He references Minimalism but freshens up its severe stylistic vocabulary with a healthy dash of Post-Pop and Dadaist nonconformity.” Art historian Ursula PanhansBühler meanwhile coined it “Impure Minimalism”, while art critic Magdalena Kröner, writing about Rentmeister in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, notes that “…the irreverence with which Rentmeister combines art and life is the most extraordinary aspect of his work.”
8. Fort Institute of Photography
This Means WarMap →
Racławicka 99 (Fort Mokotów, Building 06)
Landscape with Resting Soldiers, 2019, photography, 100x120 cm, courtesy of the artist and Fort Institute of Photography
Images carry the notion of war – created through media and varying throughout history – from military paintings and photography through to modern technologies. The method of visualizing war had, and still has, political significance in the sense that it expresses the conviction we have about it, and shapes collective imaginations. A particular type of image of war are reenactments created as a kind of spectacle – best watched from a distance, as from a distance the view can be beautiful making it even more ambivalent.
This Means War is the result of the artist observing the phenomenon of historical reenactments in the context of recent social and (geo)political changes, and their shift from a marginal phenomenon to becoming a popular model of cultural behavior in relation to the current historical policy.
Agnieszka Rayss notices that the reenactor – the creators of these cliche images – consciously or otherwise participate in the process of shaping the identity of contemporary Poles and the ways we perceive our common history. As source material she uses popular war images, referring iconographically and aesthetically to the traditions of 19th century landscape and military paintings, as well as documentary photography and film production.
The idea of reenactment affects not only the practice of recreating the war as ethically ambivalent, but also the status of the painting itself. It becomes an aesthetic reenactment – a collage made from notions about classical painting, documentary photography and the pleasant experience of watching a movie. Just as doubts can arise regarding the idea of war as a heroic act created by images, the very images pose the question: “What is it that we are actually looking at?”.
9. JednostkaAndrzej Tobis
Penalty Area, from the A-Z (Educational Cabinets) project, 2018, photography, 51.8x36.8 cm, dedicated cabinet sized 55x40x5 cm, courtesy of the artist and Jednostka Gallery
2018 marked the twelfth anniversary of the commencement of Andrzej Tobis’ work, the A-Z (Educational Cabinets) project. In these twelve years, he has undertaken a linguistic and visual journey through Poland while photographically recreating an illustrated German-Polish dictionary originally published in East Germany in 1954. As part of his conceptual project, all photographed scenes have to be shot in Poland, with over 1000 entries found so far. Tobis’ action is utopian – while it continues, its completion is unrealistic.
Tobis says: “The twelve educational displays presented at the exhibition held at the Jednostka Gallery could have been chosen from the past twelve years of work, but I didn’t want to indicate a beginning or an end to this project. I’m showing the current status – twelve cases as a representation of the previous year for twelve months. 2018 was my most productive year and I managed to find the visual equivalent of over 180 entries. This could be a sign of progress… or just years of practice. This isn’t a summary – it’s an annual report, so in addition to the twelve displays, in a separate “workroom” space you can see every A-Z project find from 2018 as well. There is also a map and text including the entries from the original dictionary that explains what I found and where.
Three years ago, I decided to invest more time and energy into my A-Z – mainly because of the re-emergence of processes connected with Poland’s political transformations. It’s becoming more and more apparent that this conceptual transformation is a permanent state, with only its directions and dynamics changing. It also became clear that the ultimate end of it all will be quite the opposite to a tranquil state of nirvana.”
Andrzej Tobis (b. 1970) works in both photography and painting. He is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow (Katowice branch) and since 1996 has been working at his alma mater while running a painting master studio.
10. Le GuernIrmina Staś
Untitled (from the series Ornaments), 2018, watercolor on paper, 50x65 cm, photo: Norbert Piwowarczyk, courtesy of the artist and Le Guern Gallery
Irmina Staś’s exhibition comprises both paintings and soft objects. The paintings – watercolors on paper and oil on canvas – consist of motifs created from a single fragment, duplicated in a way to resemble a pattern reminiscent of wallpaper or textile. The artist explores the importance of ornamentation – used historically to raise the aesthetic value of architecture and craftwork, while also conveying symbolic content.
This motif continues in her spatial works. By exploring beyond the boundaries of painting, the artist created soft objects using cotton fabrics, thread and thermal insulation material, creating three-dimensional, haptic forms based on arranged ornamental compositions. The textile medium makes her object closer to the viewer.
“The artist’s reflections on color spots and hues are integrated with her attention to ornamental quality, characterized by key features such as sequence, repetition, rhythm, interval and scale. Using a canvas formed from an elongated rectangle, the paintings resemble a frieze, embellished – like an ornament – with replicated body fragments. Breasts, fingers, nails, eyes, and teeth are presented in varying degrees of simplification. Divorced from reality, they obtain an abstract appearance as the forms interlock and merge with each other and create a background composed of a delicate structure that resembles biological tissue.”– excerpt from a text by Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko
These ornamental works composed of seemingly biological, corporal forms carry encrypted messages – ones of love, intimacy, genetic similarities, identity, attraction and the uncertainty of existing in the world and in relationships.
11. LETOZbigniew Andrzej Natkaniec
Bastion, 1991–2011, installation fragment, photo: Patrycja Kucik, courtesy of the artist
Natkaniec’s works – as well as the nature of his artistic practice – surmise a distinctive and hermetic form developed over the years that has become resistant to outside influence and fashion. Creating complicated, extremely detailed installations, he employs a number of motifs (chair, brush, flag, hand, sphere, triangle) that are replicated, thus permuting into painstaking and labyrinthine landscapes.
Natkaniec himself describes his objects as “impractical and clumsy sculptures”, in which their disturbing disorder is intertwined with charming and humorous motifs. The artist’s works become narration for the process of transforming paintings into three-dimensional objects. Natkaniec, using materials widely-known to painters, such as canvas, wood and paper, reinterprets their potential, creating installations that blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.
This exhibition presents a selection of objects from the late 1980’s through the artist’s most recent works in which chronology loses its significance to create holistic and interpenetrating arrangements.
Zbigniew Andrzej Natkaniec was born in 1961 in Opole. He is a graduate of the State Fine Arts High School in Opole and studied at the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Poznań within the Interior Design Department from 1982–83 and within the Painting Department from 1983–87. He received a diploma with honors from Prof. Jacek Waltoś’ painting studio in 1987, and since then has taught drawing and painting at the State Fine Arts High School in Opole.
The exhibition is presented in cooperation with the Contemporary Art Gallery in Opole.
I’m About to Go BerserkMap →
Maria Anto, Zuzanna Janin, Elka Krajewska,
Małgorzata Markiewicz, Kraj M, Małgorzata Malwina Niespodziewana, Anna Orbaczewska, Maria Toboła
ul. Wilcza 29A/12
To Havy, 2019, overglaze paint on porcelain, plate diameter 27 cm, courtesy of the artist
The title of the exhibition is a quote derived from Katarzyna Nosowska’s song titled Mówiła mi matka [My Mother Told Me]. It found its way into the song as one of the many anecdotes that the author cites, recalling her childhood and her relationship with her mother. When writing the lyrics as an adult woman with a grown son of her own, she was accused by internet users of presenting maternal care in a negative light. This highlighted how some women themselves are attached to the myth of the perfect mother.
I’m About to Go Berserk refers to the mother-daughter relationship – its complexity and diversity, the intimacy between two people, the care and shared common experiences – but also their rivalry, rejection and mutual contestation. The exhibit focuses on the development that takes place in these relationships that results from the ever-changing perception of the role of women, the relationships they have with their partners, and their standards regarding family and social life. While examining motherhood, the exhibit also attempts to highlight the more obscure side of the motherdaughter relationship – daughterhood – a term that was introduced into the Polish language thanks to Joanna Miezinska who translated Adrienne Rich’s book Of Woman Born.
In this exhibition, works on motherhood and daughterhood are presented, as well as examples of these relationships in the art world. This allows the viewer to take a closer look at the interactions between mother-artists and daughter-artists, and explore how they both contest and inspire each other. Every woman who has experienced motherhood while at the same having to work understands the internal conflict of dividing her attention between her child and her career, and examples of these difficult, sometimes dramatic, choices can be found in art history. In the exhibition I’m About to Go Berserk, we explore these relationships, as well as situations in which daughters take care of their mothers, supporting them while simultaneously collaborating with them.
13. m²Kamil Kukla
19ROD, 2019, oil on canvas, 60x50 cm, courtesy of the artist and m² Gallery
I have just painted a picture influenced by a peculiar vision. It flashed before my eyes, and for lack of a better term, let’s call it “the patriotic gland”. At first I saw it very clearly because I suspected it to be a vestigial organ in my body. I deduced this from the lack of a pronounced reaction of my body to the stimulus. Someone shouted: “Poland!” – okay, yes, I felt the piercing in my ears, but not much more. And I’ve heard how people get this warm feeling inside – a tingling that spreads from the fingertips to the rest of their body. But I must confess to my shame that I don’t really get choked up at the thought of my homeland, although maybe that’s good because it’s probably not a pleasant feeling. However, as in the case of people experiencing a certain lack of something, the imagination goes into overdrive. The most perverse sexual fantasies are created in the minds of the impotent, while those who are actively promiscuous tend to be restrained in this respect. This is how I understand the distinctiveness of a vision or the sense of higher duty which pushed me to paint this theme, as well as the subsequent ones. I fervently covered the stretcher bars with canvas, so that the “logotypes” of Polishness budding from this primal “patriotic gland” – such as Rodło, Toporzeł or Szczerbiec – did not escape my attention and allowed me to continue my molding, intersecting, entwining, amalgamating and stretching. I quickly discovered that all of them are cast from a malleable source that can be handled with extraordinary ease, a magma.
Summer 2019Map →
Address: Marszałkowska 34/50
Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 100x80 cm, courtesy of the artist and Monopol Gallery
[…] So what does your work process look like? Where do you start?
I start by painting anything, it’s not important what. I don’t start with a sketch or a concept for the painting. Painting is the recording of movement on a 1:1 scale – you work in the field, and think on the canvas. I look at what’s in the painting and decide where to go from there. I try not to get ahead of things, and I’d rather limit myself to one current intention: this particular shape, paint this over, the left half of someone’s face from memory, put this piece of a photograph in this gap between these forms, or repaint half of the image in gray. The intentions are sometimes general, sometimes specific, and that’s how I paint them. Sometimes I modify my intentions while painting. That’s it, and I then start from the beginning. I look at what’s in the painting… Sometimes this process is quick, stroke after stroke, and other times I take long breaks.
At some point, I see that the painting is ready and that I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t actually work on paintings. I am working on myself, on decision making. There is no general rule or philosophy in them. It’s an incoherent but carefully nurtured collection of emotional and intellectual behaviors that makes a good paining. It’s just like a termite mound. The termites don’t have a plan for it because it can’t be stored in DNA, but through the course of evolution they have developed specific, clear instincts based on the actionreaction principle. The many insects in the colony interact with this behavior, and despite there being no plan for the termite mound, it’s formed. It’s complex and it functions outstandingly. It’s organic, evolutionary, an emergence – in contrast to both the planned, Soviet approach as well as any formalistic decoration. This is my way to sneak in between a metaphor and a confection just like between Scylla and Charybdis. All things that come into existence this way are, in a sense, nature. You can see the logic in them, but it’s a logic that has developed by itself in the process of their formation. Nobody thought it up.
a fragment of a conversation between Maria Rubersz and Tymek Borowski, June 2019
15. Olszewski Gallery
Curator: Aleksander Wawrzyniak
Address: Szpitalna 8a/6
Untitled, 1979, acrylic/velvet paper, 65.5x50.5 cm, courtesy of the artist’s estate
In 1807, the British chemist Sir Humphry Bartholomew Davy separated a light, silvery-white metal from clay. The French called this unusual substance argent d’argile, the Germans Lehmsilber. In Polish, two names are used today; the term glin is applied when describing the element in scientific terms, while aluminum is used when the metal is referred to in terms of industry and production. Aluminum is the most common metal in the Earth’s crust, however the ease with which it binds with oxygen made its properties unknown until modern times. When Magdalena Więcek began creating her aluminum sculptures in the 1970’s, the material was still viewed as state-of-the-art in most Communist countries and its use was considered very avant-garde.
The idea of a strong, independent female artist was also perceived as a very modern concept. In 1950’s Poland, however, a large group of Polish female sculptors were working – including Magdalena Więcek – and these women are widely remembered today. The sculptures presented within this exhibit were made of steel and aluminum by casting, welding, polishing and metal sheet bending. Their abstract forms convey architecture’s perpetual essence – intersecting arches recall vaulted Gothic cathedrals as well as contemporary parabolic arches, while many elements – much like suspended roofs – seem to contradict gravity. Themes of flight and transcendence are significantly visible in Więcek’s works from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and are affirmed in the titles given by the artist to the sculptures from this period: Close to the Earth, Take Off, Separation, Volatile, Horizons, Infinity, Sacrum. In this context, her untitled piece from 1967 – a strip of thick aluminum sheet bent into a dynamic loop – can be interpreted as a sculptural equivalent of aerobatics. The pilot making such a loop experiences a g-force overload, and the world, for a moment, stands is on its head.
Curator: Romuald Demidenko
Suns, 2019, powder coated (polyester-epoxy) upcycled steel, Promprylad Factory, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, Courtesy of the artist and Piktogram
The dryness of the mouth and the dust on the skin will become unbearable. The sand will make your eyes itch. Creating from the remains of past production, pasting and patching from what’s left of what used to be whole will be a valuable skill. Green will turn yellow and dry. There will be no baths or water births. Droplets will be rare and valuable. The rising temperature will make it difficult to inhale the thin, dry air. Only the few will have their fragmented rivers, where they will be able to immerse in the cool water. When giving a handshake, sweat will drip down your fingers. In certain instances it will be too cold, in others too hot. There will be no weather forecast, for it will be too difficult to predict anything. Factories will halt production. Days of the week and working hours will no longer be relevant. The cyclic rotation of the planets around the Sun will remain unchanged for the time being.
We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such-and-such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don’t want to enslave other races – we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world our own – suffices us, but we can’t accept it for what it is.
Stanisław Lem, Solaris
17. Pola Magnetyczne
Longue duréeMap →
Nelly Agassi, Nicolas Grospierre
Heliograph producing cases, stacked on top of each other, Zawady, 2016
In Longue Durée, Nelly Agassi and Nicolas Grospierre develop a visual dialogue which revolves around time, architecture, and the physical absence of light. “Longue durée” – the long run – should be seen as a view on things, perceived over a long period of time, and focusing on the longstanding and imperceptibly slow-changing events and their consequences, and understood as perhaps the most fundamental aspects of reality.
In Heliography, Nicolas Grospierre’s new body of work, the photographer abandons one of his favorite topics architecture – to deliver works that could be seen as the antithesis of Cartier Bressons’s concept of the “decisive moment”. It is indeed the long perspective that is essential in Heliography, which could be described as photography without film, without camera, and even without paper: geometric patterns created by the sun over colorful velvet canvases, exposed over a period of five months.
The long run is equally essential in Nelly Agassi’s practice, and her re-interpretation of architecture. In Longue Durée, Nelly Agassi deals with the the biography of the building housing the Pola Magnetyczne gallery. Plein-Air, one of her minimalist yet masterful interventions, revives architectural elements once integral to the house, and which have disappeared: the windows of the gallery space. Marking the absence of these windows allows her to connect with the long history of the house and explore erasure, preservation, and architecture’s capacity to change and be repurposed by its users and by time, while at the same time echoing Grospierre’s Heliography by referring to the absence/presence of light that the windows allow, and which is fundamental in Grospierre’s works.
Born out of the visual exchange between two autonomous artistic sensitivities, Longue Duréee eventually hints at notions of time, memory and immanent change, often imperceptible to the naked eye.
18. Polana InstituteMikołaj Sobczak
New Kingdom Orgy, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 196x140 cm, courtesy of artist and Polana Institute
It’s the year 1536. A handsome prophet is being torn apart with glowing pincers by local executioners. This is happening much to the delight of the bishop, who can now finally return to his city. The man’s corpse was put in a cage and hung high from the cathedral’s tower. Humiliated by the most severe punishment, Jan Bockelson – an Anabaptist prophet, the king of his commune in Münster, and earlier an actor and pander in Leyden – returns as a zombie to take his revenge.
After the bloody pogrom in 1535, some of his brothers and sisters in faith managed to escape to Poland – in those times one of the most tolerant places in Europe. They traveled from Münster to Warsaw where they founded Saska Kępa, bringing with them the knotted willow – now symbolic of the Masovian landscape – as well as the recipe for making gouda cheese, the techniques to create blue and white tiles, and many years later, raising the singer Anna German (her last name is not coincidental).
The zombie of Jan Bockelson, after taking in today’s populism and its processes, intends to revive the ideals of his former commune – naming it New Kingdom. While a ban on private property, the abolition of money, equality for all, and moral liberation all sound like fiction, they can be realized in art.
Mikołaj Sobczak (b. 1989) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in the Studio of Spatial Activities. He received a scholarship from the Universität der Künste in Berlin and has continued his studies at the Kunstakademie of Münster since 2015. In his work, he employs video art, painting and performance. His works have been shown among others at the Musuem of Modern Art in Warsaw, Dortmunder Kunstverein, Bozar in Brussels, and Whitechapel in London.
Tropical CrazeMap →
Damián Flores, Paweł Kowalewski, Mariusz Tarkawian, Ada Zielińska
and anonymous artists
Malibu, Disaster Cruisin’ series, 2018, print on archival paper, 150x100 cm, courtesy of the artist and Propaganda gallery
“Tropical Madness is actually a serious nervous disorder occurring in the tropics as a result of the terrific temperature (of which no Ukrainian heat wave can give the faintest idea) and also as a result of spicy food, alcohol, and the constant sight of naked black bodies.”
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Mr Price, or Tropical Madness
It would appear that deep down inside, we are all a bit racist (and startlingly, often times in full view of the public as well). At the base of our humanity lies a deep-rooted fear of the others from which we derive our prejudices. Assessing a situation depends on what we contribute to it, and its course depends upon the contexts upon which it is built.
In Witkacy’s drama Mr Price, or Tropical Madness the protagonists are confronted with a situation in which they are forced to accept the role of colonizers, while what they want is to be businessmen. In turn, the eponymous tropics awaken in them various uncontrollable cravings which they can’t quite define.
The works presented at the Tropical Craze exhibition behave similarly – it is difficult to believe that they are what they appear to be. They are often many things at once it all depends on the first glimpse which, needless to say, is known to be deceitful.
Special thanks to Szymon Gutkowski and the Mexican Embassy in Poland.
20. RasterDominika Olszowy
photo: Jan Wasiuchnik
Who is Dominika Olszowy?
Volunteer of untruth,
Certified vendor of spring water in ladies’ handbags,
Pseudo-psychofan of Stal Gorzów speedway club,
Europe’s first collector of women’s pre-marital testaments,
Breeder of half-breed Instagram dogs,
Queen of bogus dates of birth,
Fortune teller predicting the past on post-morning television,
The flywheel of an outlawed motorcycle club which crashes art show openings,
The northern star of art-feminist hip-hop,
A manufacturer of funerary cakes with an infinitely-prolonged shelf life,
Interior decorator at a correctional home for unemployed artists,
Ever-smiling PhD student of medicine for the uninsured,
Door-to-door saleswoman of morning coffee stains,
Receptionist at the local haunted house for underage girls,
Night porter in womens disguise working overtime in a used pleather factory,
Shareholder of the funeral home Money Doesn’t Provide Happiness,
Addictive sleepwalker of self-portrait black humor,
Caretaker of black holes in art,
Kleptomaniac of small pleasures,
Hope’s only child.
So BoringMap →
Dalila Gonçalves, Michał Smandek
Al. Jerozolimskie 51/2
Concert, 2019, video Full HD, 6’07’’, courtesy of the artist and Rodríguez Gallery
How do we manage and value our time? Do we get carried away by the frantic rhythm that sweeps through society, where every moment must count and where each action has to deliver concrete results? What if, in opposition to this trend, we decide to slow down this rhythm and focus on tedious activities that are not quite as productive? It may reveal that these moments that allow our minds to have empty thoughts can become more valuable than the productive ones.
Michał Smandek and Dalila Gonçalves allow themselves to waste time. Smandek’s on-site creative process is based on patiently searching for a place and then waiting for the right moment to act. By wandering he synchronizes with nature’s rhythm, allowing himself to either do nothing or only basic activities to pass the time.
In Gonçalves’ work, the concept of time and its passing are initially implemented through the choice of materials – factory products which she obsessively collects – and later, hand-crafts. Through the monotonous approach to her work, she directs our attention to the idea of slowing down, and the need to stop praising global industrialization. The artist deprives the objects of their utilitarian function, and searches for new artistic forms closer to the nature of the material itself.
There are two types of boredom: one which stimulates creativity, and one leading to apathy. They can also be called situational boredom – for example waiting in a queue for an appointment, and existential boredom – a general senselessness. Their causes are different. It’s quite possible that waiting for a doctor’s appointment, a philosopher wouldn’t be bored or a football fan could enjoy a match with extra play time. Philip Zimbardo noticed that what we require and what is commonly misdefined as boredom is actually time we need for ourselves. It’s said that the overflow of stimuli is harmful, but their lack is just as bad. Gonçalves and Smandek know that all art is about the balance between stimulation and relaxation.
22. Serce CzłowiekaJoanna Woś
Untitled, 2019, oil on canvas, 180x130 cm
Joanna Woś grapples with the topics of repression, the substitutes for our needs, and shame and emotional trauma – often drawing from the aesthetics of historical paintings and applying past symbolism in order to criticize current perspectives. In her latest series of paintings, she reflects upon topics related to spiritual and corporal experiences and their relation to a modern human’s sensitivity and anxiety concerning survival in an increasingly uncertain social and political context. Much like in medieval eschatology, she focuses on the soul – emphasizing its duality and suggesting a human possesses two or more souls: one associated with the body and its functions, with the other free to journey and escape the body.
23. StereoMateusz Sadowski
Falling, enlarging, rising, repeating, 2018, mixed media, courtesy of Stereo gallery
Mateusz Sadowski’s fifth solo exhibition at Stereo is a presentation of his latest work. Sadowski’s oeuvre includes photographic series, video art, animated films and photographic objects. In his work, he uses photography as a starting point – sometimes digitally edited, but also modified through physical processes.
Sadowski is interested in creating a poetic message as well as a reflection on the characteristics of this medium itself, and in his recent work aims to give digital photography the characteristics of a single, original piece. Photographs made by contemporary techniques (diasec, dibond, digital printing, etc.) are then subjected to further processing – similarly to how ready-made objects are in the works of sculptors. Sadowski encases the photographic works in resin or plaster and then adds layers of modeling clay and paint as well as phosphorescent dust. As a result, the photographs receive physical qualities extending beyond simply the visual.
CZY TO SEN, CZY JAWA?! NIE, TO SUMATRA!Map →
Curators: Małgorzata Miśniakiewicz, Joanna Rzepka-Dziedzic
Fulgurites, 1995, color photocopy matrix, 401x382 mm, courtesy of the artist and Szara Gallery
Wojciech Kucharczyk (b. 1969) is an audiovisual artist, musician and activist. He has recorded over 100 albums, had multiple exhibitions and concerts around the world – both music and dance performances – and is the author of several books and albums, as well as many other projects. Since 1995, he has run Mik Musik – a record label – and has been making music publishing under various aliases. In 1994, he received his diploma in painting, installation and lithography at the Katowice Academy of Fine Arts and set out on his dream voyage. He has also traveled the world by tracing his finger on a map, has been fascinated by African music, co-created Mołr Drammaz, and traveled to Germany for work once.
In his work from the mid 1990’s, political transformation, expanding capitalism, the opening of Poland’s borders and the development of technology are all intertwined, creating eclectic images representative of shoddy globalization and provincially-perceived internationalism. Transformations of the geopolitical landscape were simultaneous with the dissemination of new communication and reprographic technologies – computers, the Internet, a color photocopier. The black and pink graphics were created based on the white and green matrices copied in negative on a color photocopier – sometimes only in a single copy.
Working on the threshold between analogue and digital, the unlimited potential of mass production is limited here to one print – a metaphor for the state of suspension between locality and globalization, and the familiar and the exotic. The dreams of traveling and reaching once-unattainable places are expressed in Polish with sidenotes in broken English. And much like fulgurites (the result of a lightning strike fusing sand into a hard mass), new forms and structures that result from violent shock therapy turn out to be extremely durable and still relevant.
Parallel UniverseMap →
Luka Rayski, Stephen Wilks
Parallel Universe, 2011, pencil on paper, 59,5x42 cm, courtesy of the artist and Szydłowski Gallery
Luka Rayski and Stephen Wilks have a friendly outlook when it comes to the mundane reality hiding behind what later evolves into a symbol or myth – as well as a vast amount of ironic humor. Their pieces recall great works from art history, but also hold connotations of the everyday meanings of symbols or words. In Wilks’s works, we can find commentary on Francisco Goya’s etchings (as in the presented series of drawings with donkeys), or Marcel Duchamp and his Nude Descending a Staircase, as well as to texts related to mysticism and gnosticism. We can also note a cabbage motif in the work (which combines a visual resemblance to the globe and the human brain) visible in the piece Le Monde Chou (Cabbage World) which depicts a cabbage globe. It is also evident in the painting with a cabbage wrapped in a piece of newspaper with an inscription reading: Global Market.
Luka Rayski’s work often seems abstract. Human hands, feet, and figures painted in a very simplified manner blend with wavy or angular patterns and lines. The visual layer is aesthetically reminiscent of street art, while actually owing much to the visual heritage of the Neolithic period. Its eroticism and hard contours are clearly present, as in the contemporary art of A. R. Penck, Jean Dubuffet, or Jean-Michel Basquiat. In the Arabische Pferde series of 2018, Rayski used illustrations from German albums on Arabian horses. Palimpsest-like images in book format balance irony while at the same time examining the unique elements of these animals, highlighting abstract structures that suggest movement as well as fatigue. The idealized horse in Rayski’s work cleverly reverts back to becoming an often skittish and clumsy animal.
26. WizytującaPaweł Susid
Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 50x50 cm, courtesy of the artist and Wizytująca Gallery
“From several books that I have read, I know that in the year Copernicus died (1543) his most prominent work On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres appeared.
In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake at Campo di Fiori in Rome for preaching the heliocentric theory. In 1633, Galileo – after a trial held by the Holy Inquisition- was forced to disavow the results of his research confirming past scientific theories. He already owned a refined telescope with which anyone could see, with their own eyes, that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It was not until 1835 – around two hundred years later – that Nicolaus Copernicus’ book was removed from the Vatican’s List of Prohibited Books. When I realized that for all those years, all these generations of people were forced to live in a fake world…my skin went numb.
I decided to throw some names, claims, slogans, views, opinions and evidence onto a canvas so that by blowing them up, multiplying, coloring and – in a word – understanding them, I make sure that I do not live in a similarly artificial world.”
Songs of rain and hobo chiliMap →
Once a closely guarded secret, 2019, Offspring 2019, De Ateliers, Amsterdam, exhibition view, courtesy of the artist and Wschód gallery
“The artist’s presentation is both a sequence of self-contained paintings and sculptures, and an energetic environment produced by their interplay. Aside from the colorways that link them, one connective strand between Dickson’s two- and three-dimensional works is that they frequently suggest transitional spaces thresholds between a here and an elsewhere that might be physical, psychological or both. Such realms, he discerns, are subtly inscribed in both art history – in charged architectural nooks painted by Fra Angelico, Jan Maelwael and Piero della Francesca – and in the texture of contemporary urbanism. There are sculptural references in Dickson’s work to portals between public and private spaces in Amsterdam, for instance: snail-shaped toilets in the red-light district, and the large storefront-like windows of domestic abodes. These liminal areas might twist allegory: they’re worldly places available to all that nevertheless foster a sense of privacy, intimacy and inward communion so that the mind can spin in its orbits – into wonder, perversity, disgust, or being haunted.”
[fragment from an essay for Offspring, 2019, De Ateliers, Amsterdam]
Anders Dickson (1988) – is an American-born artist currently living and working in Amsterdam. He studied at the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main under Monika Baer and Amy Silman (2014–2017) and De Ateliers in Amsterdam (2017–2019). His recent solo exhibitions include: Waterbound With Smokie Allies at The Oracle, Berlin in 2018, Studies In Transfiguration and Beyond the Threshold and Back Again: An Introduction to the Hero’s Journey, Gisela Capitain in Cologne in 2018, and St. Elmo’s Fire at The Beach Office, Berlin in 2017. Recent group exhibitions include: Whoohw Haah Huuhuu at Lovaas, Munich in 2019, Paranoid House, Vleeshal, Middleburg in 2018, and Monday is a Day Between Sunday and Tuesday, Tanya Leighton, Berlin in 2017.