Promoting Polish Contemporary Art around the World
Art collecting is not abou an investment or decorat but rather a great advent is available for anybody w
ut ting apartments ture which who has an idea … Krzysztof Masiewicz
Wojciech Bąkowski, courtesy Krzysztof Masiewicz
Editors Photography Graphic design Front/End cover photo
Sylwia Krasoń, Dobromiła Błaszczyk Sławek Kozdras Marzena Wilk Natalia LL
editors letter Dear Readers! We are proud to present the first experimental edition of Contemporary Lynx Magazine. It’s a summary of a very busy and successful year for Polish art and artists - rich in varied and exciting events. The Polish art was exhibited in the most prestigious institutions in the world, top private galleries, local cultural centres, but also in interesting urban, non-mainstream and non-profit spaces. Seemingly, not a day went by without at least one event with the participation of Polish artists, indeed a few, in various parts of the world. Throughout 2013, we had the great pleasure of reporting from various events to bring you closer to Polish art around the world. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to some of the most interesting and successful artists, curators and collectors. In the places we didn’t reach, there were wonderful people who submitted their accounts and thus helped us to bring these events closer. We would like to thank all our supporters and readers who helped to make Contemporary Lynx a reality. Thanks to you, the result exceeded our expectations. The release of this issue is also a summary of the first calendar year of Contemporary Lynx launched in March 2013. It is a balance sheet of our interests and choices. Are they legitimate ? Judge for yourself… and let us know what you think. Your opinion matters to us. We enter into New Year deeply convinced that 2014 will bring more exciting news about Polish artists across the globe! Dobromila Blaszczyk and Sylwia Krason Contemporary Lynx Team
Marcin Maciejowski Agnieszka Polska Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński
p. 8 p. 18 p. 22
from New York
mind the map
Art fairs/Biennials Performa13 New York Frieze Art Fair London Biennale in Venice
p. 28 p. 32 p. 36
Contemporary Lynx / traveller
07 in brIef Polish art in their own words...
collectors Werner Jerke Krzysztof Masiewicz & Piotr Bazylko
Exhibitions Goshka Macuga
p. 40, 41, 66
09 Top Ten Events of 2013 p. 70
Marcin Maciejowski, Tete de jeune fille (1929), 2013, 100 x 70 cm, photo courtesy the artist
Marcin maciejowski “Fine gesture”
Contemporary Lynx: Apparently, you like making references to Jan Matejko, saying that the reason you paint is to cheer people’s hearts. A Polish weekly newsmagazine “Przekrój” published an article entitled “Maciejowski: The New Matejko” (“Maciejowski: Nowy Matejko”). What is your opinion about such juxtaposition ?
when we watch them from close up. There are no tracks of his paintbrush. The paint looks like it was applied with a stick without any order. Only from a distance these large historical paintings look attractive, impressive. Furthermore they glisten unevenly because of varnish. I don’t like varnish. My paintings are matt.
Marcin Maciejowski: The thing with cheering people’s hearts was actually a joke I made in one of my interviews. There may be a grain of truth in it, though. What “cheering people’s hearts” actually meant to me was positive energy, joy, something optimistic experienced by the people who saw my paintings. The “New Matejko” title on “Przekrój” cover was displayed along with “The Nude” picture and I’m not sure this combination worked properly. Most probably, it was associated with different kind of delights. Of course, I admire Matejko for his attitude, diligence, his enormous scale of activity. The thing I really like in his painting are poses, gestures and facial expressions of depicted individuals. My latest exhibition (in Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac) was entitled “Fine gesture” (“Piękny gest”) which is a clear reference to my fondness for poses and gestures of painted figures, as well as to the importance I place on the act of painting itself – the way I use paints and a paintbrush. I have always been interested in what each canvas looks like from close up. Matejko’s paintings have no appeal
CL: In the past, you used to claim that you were ashamed of being a painter. You didn’t like calling yourself a painter. Did your opinion on being an artist painter change and, if so, why ? MM: At that time I preferred to say that I took up painting or that I used painting as an instrument. The statement “I am a painter” sounded pompous to me. It was also false probably, because I did not study painting, but graphic arts (as well as architecture for three years beforehand). I didn’t study painting because I didn’t want to carry the “label” of a painter. I couldn’t stand impressionism, which was exactly what I used to associate with the Krakow school. I actually tend to be as stubborn as a mule, so when someone tries to pull me forward, I step back. Therefore, it was only after I started studying at the faculty of graphic arts and I had to make drawings that I went in the opposite direction and felt an interest in and a preference for painting, which was taught as an optional course that nobody really paid attention to. I used to paint a great deal at that time but I did it at home, as if
secretly. Some time went by and a prominent gallery offered to organize an exhibition of my paintings, which evoked a common confusion at the university. I was about to have my paintings exhibited although I did not even study painting. Because of that, I did not refer to myself as a painter, which could have annoyed others. This kind of attitude suited me later on. Apart from that, I come from a little village, where people used to associate the word “painter” with a wall painter. Once the locals asked me what I did for a living. When I told them that I painted they only nodded their heads in disbelief that I had studied for such a long time and took up such an unskilled job. I don’t really care about such situations anymore. I kind of like this bit of gushiness, “artistic identity”. I can be a painter. I even like impressionists now. CL: Who is a real artist, a painter in your opinion ? MM: I wouldn’t like to sound provincial, but generally speaking, for me a painter is a person who produces “painting” as a result of his or her work. Obviously, the painting I mentioned doesn’t have to be “a painting”, which you can hang on your wall. It can be some artistic activity in a given space, the painting phenomenon. It is actually hard to define. It is the person looking at those results that determines who really is a painter and what painting is. It depends on what they feel and what emotions artistic forms evoke in them. Some people get strongly emotional about garden arrangements, others about vividly coloured T-shirts of football players flickering against the green football pitch, whereas I am bothered by painted rectangles.bI expect a painter to make me feel extraordinary energy, to deliver a message and to share his observations with me. There is a saying: “we need to experience emotions” and have a feast (for the spirit). Everything needs to be served aesthetically, however. If that is the case, I will come back to this painter (and his works), like to a restaurant which serves tasty and nutritious meals. CL: Are you emotionally attached to your own paintings? Is it difficult for you to part with them or are you glad to “send them away” ?
Marcin Maciejowski, I am happy thanks to my wife (Ingres), 2013, 50 x 70 cm, photo courtesy the artist
MM: What I meant was probably that when we exhibit too much, our audience can get tired. But honestly, I’ve already started enjoying my own exhibitions. The time I enjoy most are three months prior to a given exhibition, when I can already feel the tension of the opening day getting closer. This is when it’s easiest to paint. I also have the impression that were there no exhibitions, my willingness to paint would disappear.
think what to do next. I was thrown into the hustle of painting straightaway. I remember having painted 36 paintings in just two months. It was in Cologne where I saw an arts fair for the first time. I had a headache because I felt overwhelmed with the amount of art works I saw there. Luckily, my scholarship was sponsored by Bayer, aspirin manufacturer, so I survived. The most pleasant memory from my stay in Leverkusen is the visit of the famous painter Edward Dwurnik along with his daughter Pola, who is a painter as well. That was when I got to know him. He watched me working and asked why I didn’t clean the canvas with sandpaper after priming it, before I started painting. I used to prime canvases myself at that time and I have to admit that I did it quite unprofessionally. There were numerous lumps on my canvases – the surface was not smooth at all. Dwurnik’s remark influenced my work in a good way. I started to pay a great attention to the quality and smoothness of the canvas, the quality of a stretcher bar, paints, all general technical issues. It can be concluded that after my stay in Leverkusen I started to apply German quality standards while working on a painting.
CL: This year, you had your first individual exhibition in a public culture institution in the United Kingdom. How was your cooperation with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Gateshead initiated? Were any of your works presented at this exhibition created specifically for this event ?
CL: You cooperate with several prominent galleries abroad – Galerie Meyer Kainer in Vienna, Wilkinson Gallery in London and Galerie Thaddeus Ropac in Paris. How was your cooperation with these institutions initiated? Did it influence your perception of the Polish art market and artistic circles ?
MM: Not really. All of the paintings presented were created before and they belonged to various collectors from the UK. The exhibition’s curator, Laurence Sillars, was the person who selected works to be presented and worked out their arrangement.
MM: My cooperation with Galerie Meyer Kainer started in 2002. My paintings were then presented during a small group exhibition in Vienna and this gallery noticed them and offered me the opportunity to cooperate. When I started to display my works in Meyer Kainer Galerie I was spotted and invited by other galleries. I also need to mention the curator Goschka Gawlik, who was the first person presenting the works of Grupa Ładnie abroad (it was in 1999, as far as I remember). Not only my works were promoted this way. My colleagues from Ładnie first tried working with her. I joined this initiative later and stayed for a long time. But she showed a lot of initiative herself, for example she presented works of other young artists, who
MM: I obviously grow attached to my paintings, but the affection is not strong enough to prevent me from parting with them. For a painter, it is a great pleasure and satisfaction when his painting is bought. I paint for myself, but I also want other people to be able to look at my paintings. I literally live through each painting before and while painting it. These emotions persist. Apart from that, I keep records of my paintings, I photograph them, so that I always have the opportunity to look at them on my computer screen, to remind myself of them. CL: You stated a few times that you didn’t like exhibitions and that it was wrong to exhibit too much. Why ?
CL: In 2001 you participated in a scholarship programme in Leverkusen – a thriving centre, which recently organized several interesting events devoted to Polish artists. Could you share your impressions about your stay there? Did it affect your work anyhow ? MM: I started this scholarship programme right after finishing my studies. It was a good thing because it did not leave me time to “celebrate” nor to 12
Marcin Maciejowski, 1986-1974 12 Wlodzimierz Pawlak, 2012, 40 x 50 cm, photo courtesy the artist
are now really successful abroad. How did these experiences influence my perception of the Polish art market and artistic circles? Western galleries, at least the ones I work with, care about their artists a great deal. This is not the case in Poland. CL: What are your impressions about the interest in Polish art in the West ? MM: In the West, there is a significant interest in art in general, regardless of where it comes from. If a piece of art is really good, it attracts everybody’s attention in any country. It’s the piece of art you see first, the artist’s name comes later. It can be the other way round, however. I don’t know how the western interest in Eastern
European art exactly started and what it looks like now. I guess, Polish art as a whole attracts interest. Within that, there are particular names which are present in western galleries. CL: Looking at your paintings, a change of interests can be easily spotted. In the past, you concentrated on presenting Polish mentality, which is full of contrasts, often seemingly irreconcilable. Nowadays, you hold a kind of dialogue with the art world. Picasso, Kantor, Klimt, Schiele… as well as “genre scenes” from galleries or pubs. For me personally, describing and presenting the art world with a pinch of bitter irony has the narrative and moralizing characteristics which are very similar to what was inherent in your previous series of paintings. So, what is your attitude to the art world ? 13
Artists Marcin Maciejowski, His second Wife, 2013, 150 x 110 cm, photo courtesy the artist
MM: I realised that apart from being engrossed in everyday life, my wife, some politics and social conflicts, although to a much lesser extent, my genuine interest lies in ART in general – in its history, specific notions, the problems of artists. And since I always genuinely (adding a bit of irony) depict what matters most to me in my life, my observations about art started to emerge in my works. I created paintings about significant events in the art history (for example “Zakopane used to attract artists, who found peace and inspiration there”), about specific artists, as well as paintings connected with my own artistic activity (“Why do you devote so little time to important themes?” or “Can’t you be more radical ?”), about watching pictures (for example “- His second wife. 37 years younger than him” [about the portrait of Helena Fourment by Rubens]), the language used by critics. You probably recollect the term “art world” from the picture “Are you really from the art world?”. In fact, it may be associated with my problematic artistic and social identity. Actually, once I’ve heard a piece of conversation, an accusation against a person not engaged in fine arts that such person “does not belong to the art world” and there is no point starting any discussions with them. The person in question cited their connection with the “theatre environment”. Both sides tried to beat each other up with sophisticated terminology. Based on this conversation, I had some reflections, which led to creating this actual picture. CL: In your previous opinions one can sense a bit of a disgust and reserve towards drive and willingness to be successful and famous. At the meeting in the National Museum in Krakow you said that “everybody deserves equal treatment” and that artists should not be classified based on the arbitrary notion of success. Could you please elaborate on that ?
Marcin Maciejowski, Elly Jones 1928. I wish you liked me, 2013, 26 x 20 cm, photo courtesy the artist
MM: I don’t remember what I had in mind at that particular moment, what made me say so. I associate fame with celebrity shows, light entertainment on television, some kind of unhealthy drive. Those are things I don’t like and try to remain detached from. The word “success” however, means a reward, something you achieve because you’ve done a good job. It may be about any profession,
any sphere of life. Success is also associated with money, so everybody wishes to achieve it. Even artists, who are hypersensitive in spiritual matters, and completely do not care about material things. I don’t remember what I meant by equal treatment neither. Now I think that anybody can classify artists according to their preferred criteria and choose which works enrich them personally and which don’t. For example, I am mostly fascinated and inspired by movies which are later described as dull in the reviews and which do not draw big audience. Sometimes a movie is nothing special in fact, but it contains one specific scene which is meaningful for me and which, of course, makes me paint it. Same thing with books I go through, one sentence is enough for me to state that the book is inspiring. I want to say that sometimes you can’t predict what will affect you emotionally: going to the exhibition in a prominent gallery or a trip to Castorama, where you can notice many inspiring shelves with screws, strips of wood or lavatories.
documentation I found, along with the captions. Then, whenever I ran into the short notice in one women’s magazine about the record price for Picasso or Cezanne paintings, I didn’t announce this message on Facebook. I depicted it on my canvas instead. Similarly, when I read in a book something about Modigliani’s elegance or Renoir’s nagging doubts I created paintings about it. Indeed, when I analyse my work I notice that the theme of art and artists is present in numerous paintings. Maybe I should change my interests now, start thinking about some trauma, gender, ecology.
I only got to see: one Picasso’s
MM: It is exactly as you described in your question. As you mentioned, for me as an artist and for my paintings, the stories concerning artists’ life and their problems are more significant. The issues concerning art in general are vital as well. For example, I am fascinated by generic titles of the art works presenting traditional themes, like “Still life with…” or some activities, such as “A woman doing her hair”, “A girl reading”, “A girl dancing”, “Bar at…”. Such titles used to be given mainly to paintings created by the artists in the past. I used to pay no attention to such titles, but recently they became an impulse to create my own version of the themes, introduce some allusions, alternations. I really like the titles of pictures and I like inventing titles for my own paintings. As a spectator, I am obviously interested in all kinds of painting, but I place limitations on myself in order not to go mad with the excess of it. I don’t watch everything in one go. For example, when I am in Vienna, I only got to see: one Picasso painting, one Bacon painting and one Richter painting in MUMOK. This takes three hours. In Kunsthistorisches Museum I spend one hour looking at Caravaggio’s “Madonna of the Rosary” and another hour at “Het Pelsken” by Rubens. It
painting, one Bacon’s painting and one Richter’s painting in MUMOK [...] It is definitely enough emotions and sensations for one day CL: How did you become interested in the works of contemporary art classics? What was the impulse for creating this specific series of paintings ? MM: The point of departure for the paintings was my interest in art, not only from the perspective of an artist, but also a spectator. Cultured people discuss their artistic impressions with each other. I am alone in my studio, I have nobody to share my impressions with. Therefore, I started to “talk to the painting”, in other words to create paintings out of my own thoughts and impressions. My first works on this theme were created after I saw beautiful photographs of the sculptures by Szapocznikow, Kobro and Karne in several catalogues. I liked them so much that I wanted to have them. Therefore, I painted them for myself based on the
CL: Are you inspired by any specific artists and their works? I’m asking you about it because just a few years ago you said that it was not any specific form of art, trend or the artistic activity of a specific person which attracted you, but rather this person’s life, the way they dealt with his or her artistic and life obstacles. On the other hand, you used to say that when you looked at Picasso works, they gave you a boost of energy and a strong motivation to work. So what is it like, exactly ?
is definitely enough emotions and sensations for one day. When it comes to Picasso, while looking at his paintings I actually feel the energy, power and stimulation as if I drank a few cups of coffee. Simply speaking, to regain vigour and a will to live – try Picasso. CL: Do you follow current exhibitions and what young artists are up to ? MM: I see more works by the artists who are either older than me or my age. Until last year, I used to think of myself as a young artist. It was only thanks to one of the critics, with whom I discussed art in Krakow, that I realised I am not a young artist anymore and that a lot of students left school since I graduated. Just joking. I have to admit that I don’t follow young artists’ work. But if I have the opportunity to see something, I carefully watch what challenges young artists try to face. I think that young artists are more into installations, creating objects, projects, video clips. They rarely paint on canvas (there are a few exceptions, of course). CL: There are many artists who started painting but later switched to installations or video clips. Some say that painting is in a crisis recently. You, however, still remain faithful to this technique. Why did you choose painting and what does it mean to you ? MM: I took up painting an drawing because I understood this sort of language and decided to communicate in it. I believe in what I paint and I don’t feel the need to express myself using different means. I found everything in painting. I see every single situation of everyday life as a kind of picture, I envisage what it would look like on canvas. I constantly think about painting, at dinner, while having a conversation with somebody, before I fall asleep. I like oil paints so much that were I forced to stop painting I would start working in a shop with paints (materials) for artists. CL: Newspaper cuttings, a frame from a movie or photographs constitute points of departure for your work. What value and meaning do they have for you ? In your opinion, where is the border between these two worlds (art and mass culture) ?
MM: For me personally, the reason I paint a picture or draw a graphic is always the same. I realise that one particular photo, sentence, situation is suitable for a painting and should be painted on canvas or drawn on paper. When there is a reflection, values are emphasised or given a specific meaning, the border you mentioned is crossed. In other words, it occurs when an artist “indicated a crucial problem” (this caption comes from the painting “The artist indicates a crucial problem” exhibited in Galerie Meyer Kainer in June 2013).
I found everything in painting. I see every single situation of everyday life as a kind of picture... CL: You often said that artistic means are not sufficient. That abstract painting itself is not attractive for you. Why are you so deeply interested in realism and narration, to which you remained faithful since the beginning of your work ? MM: In abstract painting, there are too many solutions, too many choices and I wouldn’t be able to pick just one of them. I felt such inability to decide when I studied architecture and I was about to draw my first designs for houses. I drew windows in walls. There were just too many solutions to apply, which is why I did not feel interested in this work. In the case of realistic painting or narration, I have a better feeling of what is the single proper solution for a given theme, the best sentence. On the other hand, for me realistic painting, creating a realistic scene involves abstract construction. For example, when I paint a face, I don’t paint every smallest detail, because imitation is not my goal. I use brushstrokes or drawings in such way, that this oval shape with the shapes of the eyes, nose and mouth constitutes a tense, expressive piece of art, which has its new, independent quality. Due to this approach, while creating some paintings I can spend four hours looking for a single eyelid line, a drop representing a pupil. It actually resembles an abstract geometric painter who arranges a circle and a line in his composition or an architect who places a window in the right place on the façade.
CL: In the past, while preparing to create artistic works you used to collect tabloids, such as “Super Express”, women’s magazines, you kept a notebook, etc. You changed the subject of your works, however. What is your present working routine? How do you collect materials for your paintings ? I’ve heard that you collect catalogues presenting works by different artists. MM: I still have the habit of buying newspapers and books. I don’t buy fiction, but rather biographies, historical books, guidebooks, picture albums. I wouldn’t say it’s the way of collecting materials for future paintings. I gather these things because I like paper and everything that is on it. I don’t read everything, more often I look through these publications and focus on illustrations. I usually stumble across the materials I use in my paintings by accident. I don’t specifically look for them. I simply notice something and immediately know that it will make a good painting. I still keep my notebooks and sketchbooks, but I no longer stick any cuttings inside. There are more sentences, titles and quotations than drawings now. I stick cuttings, printouts and photos onto the wall, in order not to forget about them. As you mentioned, I am passionate about buying art catalogues presenting painting, architecture, photography. Those are always beautiful publications and it’s good to have them at home on the bookshelf. (Oh! I also gather shelves, tables, chairs, I can even say I collect them. I use these pieces of furniture while working: reading and drawing.) Sometimes I tend to spend more time in a museum or a gallery bookshop than watching the exhibition in this very museum. When it comes to the catalogues presenting works of particular artists, I generally collect only ones on Picasso. I’ve already mentioned where my fascination with this artist comes from.
to the end. I never work on several paintings simultaneously. I paint regularly, maybe not every day, but, I would say, every night. I always work at night, sometimes till morning. I have some empty periods after exhibitions, when a time for reflections comes and I need to contemplate what I’ve painted so far and take a fresh perspective on things. This is the time I need to start missing painting. CL: Have you got any artistic goals you strive to achieve ? Maybe there is a place you would like to host your exhibition or an art collection you want your works to be included in ? MM: I don’t really have such big exhibition dreams. I would just like to see my magnolia tree, which I planted two years ago next to my house, reach 7 meters. Reportedly, it is supposed to reach that height in 30 years. CL: Thank you for this conversation. Interviewed by Dobromila Blaszczyk Translated by Joanna Pietrak
CL: Are you always sure what you are going to paint next, or you have some periods when you lack inspiration ? MM: I find the themes for my paintings on a regular basis, I only have to select them and prioritise as to which one to deal with first. Some paintings just want to be created immediately. I always paint just one work at a given time – from the beginning Marcin Maciejowski, Bar at Wilkinson Gallery, 2013, 200 x 150 cm, 17 photo courtesy the artist
Agnieszka Polska, The Forgetting of Proper Names, 2009, video, 03:45 © the artist, courtesy ŻAK | BRANICKA (fragment)
Agnieszka Polska “How the work is done” Maybe you’ve encountered her
processes, influenced by a countless
works ? There have been a lot of op-
number of factors, it is dependent
portunities to see her films and ani-
on our experiences, emotions and
mations. She took part in four big
gathered knowledge, as well as on
presentations in the United King-
the images we register from our en-
dom (January 2012 in Calvert 22
vironment. Agnieszka Polska takes
Foundation, an exhibition entitled
up this topic in the context of inter-
The Forgetting of Proper Names,
preting and functioning of a work of
Poland, in 1985. Lives and works
in March 2012 a showing in Tate
art in our consciousness. The impos-
in Warsaw, Poland. She won 10th
Modern, in May 2012 she was pre-
sibility of an accurate recreation of
Geppert Competition, and she
sented in ICA London as a part of
the elements leads to a flawed and
was nominated to the prestigious
the Fetish & Figure presentations).
untrue interpretation. However, ac-
The last on the list of British exhibi-
cording to Polska, this is what ani-
tons is Nonsense Syllables which is
mates art and allows it to develop.
held from 8 March to 18 May 2013
Thus enticed, we will be attempting
in Summerhall in Edinburgh.
to bring her works closer to you, and
Agnieszka Polska, born in Lublin,
Future Generation Prize 2012, a prize for young artists founded by the Ukrainian collector Wiktor Pinchuk, the founder of the modern art centre in Kiev – Pinchuk Art Centre. She has been
our fear of erroneous interpreta-
nominated to the Views – Deutsche
What makes the works of Agniesz-
tion is diminished when considering
Bank Foundation Award.
ka Polska so special ? Definitely
the topic for deeper deliberations,
the characteristic, oneiric climate
which we will be offering you.
derived from old, recovered photographs, press cut-outs or art re-
Therefore, while quoting the title
productions. Their juxtaposition, ani-
of the work, we may ask a question:
mation through the introduction of
How the work is done ?
slow movement and specific rhythm creates the aura of dream visions,
The black and white image of the
strange images rooted deep in the
room slowly moves before our
subconscious, which the artist at-
eyes. The space seems empty.
tempts to bring to life and transfer
After a while we make out the sil-
from the realm of dreams into reality.
houettes of bodies sitting on chairs and laying on mattresses on the
The problem of memory, as some-
floor. These are not, however „real”
thing subjective, delicate and un-
figures, captured by camera. Their
stable reoccurs often in her works.
faces, hands and feet are missing.
It is one of the basic psychological
They are puppets, which do not
Agnieszka Polska, How the Work Is Done, 2011, video, 06:26 © the artist, courtesy ŻAK | BRANICKA
resemble real people. They are a mirage
Polska is like a detective / archivist, she
from the past, which appears in front of our
draws „the elements” from the past. Like
eyes like a dream. We are introduced into
a Freudian psychoanalyst she researches
this world by a narrator with a low, mas-
…works of art (The Forgetting of Proper
culine voice. It is an attempt was made at
Names, 2009). She follows Freud into the
a recreation of long forgotten events, as
muddy, sticky, dark places in the subcon-
if during a hypnotic séance. The “figures
scious. She analyses the extracted elements
in the documentary” – the students of the
such for example Three L-Beams by Rob-
Fine Art Academy – are dreaming about
ert Morris. She proves that they were not
work and liquid gas. At times hard physical
so much forgotten, as badly remembered.
work is accentuated – creation, interfer-
This caused their repression into deeper
ence with the materials at hand, cutting, inserting, crushing, modelling and touching of liquid substances. But memories, like liquids have fluid/changeable borders and their essence slips through our fingers. The core, which is searched for by the artist, is the condition of the work of art., its reception and its metaphors, and its impact. While physical work, the act of forming, changing interfering with the matter,
and deeper areas of memory, where they were connected to nothing and the affinity of thoughts and creative pursuits has been lost. Their reapearance causes their renaming, finding new epithets, new affinities. The reception and the interpretation of a work of art changes. A question may be posed if this is the way to the perdition of the essence of a work of art, or maybe that is what drives it forward and gives it a second life ?
altering of state are for me the subtle meta-
A well-groomed, delicate hand is a recur-
phors of changes in the functioning and re-
ring motif in almost all of Polska’s anima-
ception of the work of art.
tions. The hand is the active element, the
force retrieving the objects for the depths
Gallery, in which the said performance took
of the subconscious, the „lost” works of art
place. Like a narrator in a documentary she
among them (My Favourite Things, 2010).
guides us through Borowski’s work, the sub-
She exhibits them in broad daylight after
sequent changes and the motifs employed.
years of non-existence. Among the “favour-
There is an atmosphere of reverence and pi-
ite” things one may find: Heliographs and
etism in her attitude towards the artist and
objects from Spatial Composition by Marek
the work of art. When describing the vari-
Piasecki, Arton XXIV and Niciowiec by
ous elements scattered around the gallery
Włodzimierz Borowski, Bicycle Wheel by
cube, certain imperfections start to show,
Marcel Duchamp, Sol LeWitt’s cubes or the
generalisations, over-interoperations and
repeatedly called upon L-Beams by Morris.
faulty statements. It seems that even when
Polska attempts to recreate their shape and
basing on accurate archive materials dis-
old meaning. But this object, confronted
tortions and mistakes in interpretation
with the new reality and the layers of art–
couldn’t be ruled out.
related experiences gained by the viewer in the meantime, loses its old limits, which defined it. The best example is the film Sensitization to Colour of 2009. Polska as a researcher-archivist attempts to recreate the performance of one of the most important avant-garde artists of 1960 and 1970 – Włodzimierz Borowski (to whose work she refers a lot in her animations). Basing on the photos from the performance she recon-
For me Agnieszka Polska’s work is like poetry translated into visual arts. It is heavily characterised by metaphors. Beneath the cover of a deft juggler of images, she poses the question about the way a work of art functions in culture and in our consciousness. With the use of videos and animations, the artist is searching for the characteristics of the annexed and researched work of art.
structs the space of the Poznań Od Nowa Interviewed by Dobromila Blaszczyk Translated by Ewa Tomankiewicz
Agnieszka Polska, How the Work Is Done, 2011, video, 06:26 © the artist, courtesy ŻAK | BRANICKA
Jerzy ”Jurry” Zieliński
Alison Gingeras is talking about Zielinski’s first solo show in America
Between 10th of April and 4th of May 2013, Oko in New York hosted the very first American presentation devoted to artist Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński (1943-1980) – one of only a handful of Polish artists to take up the pop art style during the 1960s and ’70s. Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński exhibition included three key paintings; Irony, (1970) Polish Act of Marriage, (1974) and Meeting (1969) that together offer a condensed first look at Jurry Zieliński’s oeuvre. Zielinski is one of the rare Polish artists influenced by pop art style during the 1960s and ’70s, he made works repleted with anti-establishment messages. His artistic language did not develop as part of the western canon. It shows a unique application of pop art in Eastern Europe, outside of where the movement originated. Jurry’s pop art is exceptional, because it did not focus on consumerism, but rather was a vehicle used to scrutinise the communist regime, as seen from the Polish perspective. Julian Schnabel with Candy Coleman in front of Jerzy ”Jurry” Zielinski’s painting Polish Act of Marriage, 1974, at Oko, courtesy of Oko, New York
Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński, Witajcie Kochani, 1977, oil on canvas, 97 x 130 cm, courtesy of Galeria Zderzak, Krakow
I found the work of Jerzy “Jurry” Zielinski to be visually and conceptually compelling – and thought it would be important that it be seen in America Contemporary Lynx: Alison, the post-mortal exhibition
Alison Gingeras: About two years ago, I was in a book-
of a post-war artist – Jerzy Jurry Zielinski curated by
store in Warsaw and came across the publication
yourself at Oko has finished recently. This was the first
“Jurry. Powrot Artysty” (Krakow 2010) that had just
presentation of the artist’s works outside of Europe.
been published. I was completely obsessed by this art-
The show was organised by Oko with the support
ist I had never heard about. I eventually got in touch
of Zderzak Gallery and the artist’s widow Wieslawa
with Zderzak Gallery in Krakow who manage the Es-
Zielinska. I would like to ask you, what was the trigger
tate and proposed to organize a show in New York.
to organise this exhibition ? How the idea of presenting
I found the work to be visually and conceptually com-
his artwork at Oko came about ?
pelling – and thought it would be important that it be seen in America.
jerzy “jurry” zieliński
CL: Zielinski’s works are compared to Japanese avant-
for about 20 years. For instance, you would not find
garde artist Yoko Tadanori or Heinz Edelman. But what
his work in art publications. How could the younger
is special about Zielinski’s work ? What really makes his
generation understand this fact ?
contribution into the international pop art scene ? A.G.: As I am not Polish, I don’t think I am qualified A.G.: Jurry represents a singular position – especially
to explain why Jurry’s work has been received this
when taking into account the cultural and political
way in Poland. Its clear that there’s been at least two
context in Poland at the time that he is making this
decades in which his work has not been appreciated or
work. I think it is important that in New York City – one
perhaps even repressed from the mainstream of Polish
of the “birthplaces” of pop art and this type of aesthetic
art history. I hope that our modest exhibition will bring
– that an artist like Jurry is considered outside of the
awareness to his work for a younger generation.
hegemonic narrative of Anglo-American pop art. From
the reactions we had to the exhibition, I witnessed
CL: With this exhibition, Oko introduced Zielinski to
that his very idiosyncratic iconography and narrative
the broader audience. This is his first show in New
threads that run throughout the work still have a strong
York. What was the reception of his work by NY visi-
legibility and resonance today.
tors, critics, collectors, curators and artists ?
CL: Today Zielinski is considered as an uncompro-
A.G.: We had a very positive response to the show –
mising pop art Pioneer in 60s and 70s in Poland. He
by young artists, critics and curators as well as the
used pop art style to criticize the communist regime.
general public. People of an older generation who
However, he has been completely forgotten in Poland
lived during the Cold War were very intrigued by the
Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński, Gorący (Hot), 1968, oil on canvas, 140 x 200 cm, collection of Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, courstesy of Zachęta, Warsaw
history of Jurry during the PRL times and the younger audience seemed to connect very strongly to the singular aesthetics of his work – and were astonished by the resonance with American Pop. I believe a number of international curators have become aware of Jurry’s work and he is being considered for some important thematic exhibitions in the years to come. CL: Oko is known for presenting curatorial experimentation. Could you tell us more about your curatorial activity and about Oko’s programme ? Does Oko show Polish art frequently ? A.G.: Oko is like a little laboratory where we can organize small exhibitions that are hopefully aesthetically provocative or come from a less expected point of view. We do not only focus on Polish art — our first show was a performance artist from the East Village called Danny Mc Donald. After that we organized a very specific show exploring the early work of Julian Schnabel from 1978 – 81. Since closing our Zielinski show, we opened an exhibition of new “fairy dust” paintings by Dan Colen juxtaposed with a Victorian Fairy painting from 1851 by John Fitzgerald. I suppose this eclectic vision is an essential part of Oko’s own identity.
Installation view, Jerzy ”Jurry” Zielinski, Oko, New York, photo courtesy of Oko, 2013
CL: I would love to find out what the atmosphere at East Village is like ? Does it have a strong bohemian artistic climate ? A.G.: The East Village is still a hub of artistic and cultural activity. Not only do many artists live in the neighborhood, it is also an anchor for numerous institutions such as NYU (New York University) and Cooper Union so we have a big student population. It is also traditionally a Polish and Ukrainian neighborhood– I hear lots of people speaking many languages on the streets of the East Village. Our street is dominated by
Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zieliński (1943-1980). Born in Kazimerz. He was a painter and poet. He graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 1968. In 1965, together with Jan Dobkowski founded a group Neo Neo Neo. His artistic style influenced by pop
Japanese shops and restaurants… its like 2 streets of
art, inspired many young artists such as
little Tokyo. Its a classic NY melting pot.
Gruppa and Twozywo art groups. He died in Warsaw 1980.
CL: Thank you Interviewed by Sylwia Krason
jerzy “jurry” zieliński
Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński, Polski Akt Małżeństwa (Polish Act of Marriage), 1974, oil on canvas, 99 x 70 cm, courtesy of Zderzak Gallery, Krakow
Jerzy “Jurry” Zieliński, Ironia (Irony), 1970, oil on canvas, 201 x 150 cm, courtesy of Zderzak Gallery, Krakow
Performa13 Polish Pavilion Without Walls in New York In November Contemporary Lynx crossed the Atlantic
For three weeks Performa13 transformed New York into
Ocean to participate in Peforma13 biennial – a must–see
the performance capital of the world. This year the con-
New York festival entirely dedicated to performance
cept of Pavilion Without Walls had its debut. This year it
art. The trip began with a mind–twisting performance by
focused on Poland and Norway. Performa’s Pavilion With-
Smolenski & Szlagaat Fridman Gallery. We watched an
out Walls is a new initiative modelled on the idea of the
intriguing action/performance by Akademia Ruchu (Acad-
Venice Biennial’s pavilions. It’s created to forge strong
emy of Movement) at Times Square. Next stop was the
partnerships between New York and countries around
post office at Madison Square, where we listened to an
the world, allowing Performa to foster deeper levels of
eerie sound piece by Katarzyna Krakowiak. Finally, we
cultural and artistic exchange.
saw a thought–provoking exhibition by Agnieszka Kurant at Sculpture Centre in Queens and admired a new sculp-
Why did Performa focus on Poland ? In the words of Ros-
ture prepared by Pawel Althamer in hip Williamsburg.
eLee “Poland has an extraordinary history of performance that straddles both art and theatre, and the politics of the past half century. […] The artists and events within the Polish Pavilion illustrate and embody the artistic practices that Performa found following months of research, including visits to Warsaw and Kraków with leaders of the art and culture field. Polish Pavilion was jointly organised by Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Polish Cultural Institute in New York and CCA Zamek Ujazdowski from Warsaw. In addition to national focus, Performa also had a thematic leitmotif of “Citizenship” and “Voice”. The themes were clearly visible in projects prepared by Polish artists. In various ways they reflected upon the subject of citizenship questioning our sense of community and asking what it means to be a citizen in XXI–century world of immigrant nations. The theme of “voice” was understood as an instrument and platform for desire, persuasion and coercion, says Goldberg, the historical link that ties the programme together was the art movement of Surrealism and its legacy. Radoslaw Szlaga and Konrad Smolenski presented Tribute to Errors and Leftovers at Fridman Gallery in Manhattan. Gallery space was turned into a stage with Szlaga’s patch-
Radek Szlaga & Konrad Smolenski, Tribute to Errors and Leftovers, collaboration Daniel Szwed & Dean Spunt, Fridman Gallery, NYC 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
work flags hanging loosely from the ceiling. Images on the
flags depicted animals and human faces – often with open
chaos or does it merely confront it ? From the partici-
mouths, shouting. There was a disturbing dog threesome.
pant’s perspective, the performance resembled the expe-
The iconography was kept in the aesthetic of rubbish and
rience of an immigrant overwhelmed by the melting pot of
leftovers – typical for Szlaga’s oeuvre. The title of the pro-
city chaos felt with all senses; foreign sounds, smells and
ject – Tribute to Errors and Leftovers – perversely reflect-
forms. On the other hand, it’s the intruder who disrupts
ed upon the contemporary culture and material lifestyle.
the rhythm. The boundary between useless rubbish and
In such scenery, Konrad Smolenski together with Dean
new value seems vague and fluid.
Spunt and colleague from the BNNT Daniel Szwed produced ear–blasting music to mute all other senses. Dis-
Queen Mother of Reality is a monumental statue by Paweł
turbing and in equal measure hypnotic performance, with
Althamer, situated next to the local bar called Biba, on the
unpredictable and surprising twists, was the most crucial
eastern waterfront of the fashionable Williamsburg dis-
part of the whole piece. The viewer, with obligatory ear-
trict. The impressive view of Manhattan skyscrapers pro-
plugs, was thrown into the middle of chaos morphing into
vides an amazing background for this location. At night,
reflection and back into chaos.
their marvellous flickering lights are reflected in the waters of the Hudson river.
Poland has an extraordinary history of performance that straddles both art and theatre, and the politics of the past half century
Queen Mother is a result of Althamer’s cooperation with several artists: Noah Fischer, Roman Stanczak, Szymon & Bruno Althamer, Rafal Zwirek and the Aaron Burr, as well as volunteers. The members of the local community, including Hasidic Jews, Puerto Ricans, Poles from the nearby Green Point and Hipsters from the trendy district of Williamsburg were also invited to participate in
Smolenski and Szlaga were inspired by the story of aliens
this project. As it often happens with Althamer‘s artistic
coming to Earth to get rid of leftovers. The link to the
activities, the collective work on the statue turned out to
theme of citizenship and voice could be a tale of an im-
be the crucial aspect of the whole project. For a few days,
migrant or outsider reaching their new destination – in
everyone willing and wishing to contribute brought vari-
Smolenski’s case with a space–age rocket–shaped guitar.
ous materials and props, mainly the ones found in scrap
Does the outsider bring trash or seed of new civilisation ?
yards and rubbish bins. That is how Queen Mother of Re-
Is it noise or a new voice? Does the new element introduce
ality, the statue for the times we live in, was created.
Tribute to Errors and Leftovers, collaboration Daniel Szwed & Dean Spunt, Fridman Gallery, NYC 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
The enormous Queen Mother of Reality is a woman lying
taking them into perspective. He proves the importance
on her side and resting her head on her hand. The sculp-
of the neutral state of mind, which should be resistant to
ture is actually a structure made of steel, wood and junk,
external stimuli. Queen Mother seems to encourage local
but it is solid enough to allow people inside. Its charming
communities to enter the comfort zone and feel mentally
decorations are composed of discarded items, which, in
free from everyday concerns and mundane issues.
this way, undergo their revival. The woman’s elbow is in fact a dilapidated umbrella, the chain of joined computer
The project manifests Althamer’s inspiration with the
keyboards acts as jewellery and the headdress is a huge
real figure, the former nun, Dr. Delois Blakely. She is the
hat made of smaller hats. The woman is resting on one el-
famous heroine of the Occupy movement, a New York
bow, just like the Thai Buddha at Wat Pho temple in Bang-
social activist and an active facebook user. She is actively
kok. The Queen Mother’s facial expression is kind, which
protecting oppressed women, fighting for the rights of the
bears a close resemblance to the Buddha’s facial features.
poor and against economic inequality around the world.
However, there are some obvious differences between
What is more, she is a supporter of microcredits and a pro-
both statues, namely their skin colour and gender.
ponent of entrepreneurial attitude among corrupt youth. She is often seen walking in the 125th street in Harlem.
As we can learn from the press, Queen Mother of Reality is a tribute to all the displaced mothers and single women
Manhattan has its Statue of Liberty, while Brooklyn has
made to leave their households. Similarly to the sleep-
the Queen Mother of Reality. The Statue of Liberty wel-
ing Buddha, the sculpture personifies the oasis of peace,
comes immigrants like the gate to the promised land. It
which was created by the local community as a tribute
seems to be calling from the distance “Bring me the ill, the
to those, who cannot protect their own homes anymore.
crippled and the rejected”. In contrast, Queen Mother of
Buddhists believe that sleep is a manifestation of the
Reality takes care of those who are already there, who
state of tranquillity and spiritual emancipation. Sleep is
came from far away and who are forgotten by others. In
also a process which leads us to awakening. The sleeping
this respect, the Queen Mother resembles the New York
Buddha from Wat Pho personifies calmness, which is one
activist Dr. Delois Blakely
of the most important virtues. Buddha teaches us how to accept profit and loss, how to handle success and failure
words: Sylwia Krason
Radek Szlaga & Konrad Smolenski, Tribute to Errors and Leftovers, collaboration Daniel Szwed & Dean Spunt, Fridman Gallery, NYC 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
Contemporary Lynx crossed the Atlantic Ocean to participate in Peforma13 biennial â€“ a must-see New York festival entirel dedicated to performance art, photo Contemporary Lynx, November 2013
Frieze Art Fair in London
The extensive gardens. The green lawns, the trees. The
was possible to see at Frieze the momentum and bigger
people are walking through these small islands, which
than in other fairs desire to create an elite event availa-
are oases of tranquillity in this crowded, bustling and
ble only for the selected. This was particularly evident if
busy city. In the heart of one of them – in Regent’s Park
we compare this event with Viennafair, which had been
– two large white tents surrounded by flowers and trees
opened only a week before Frieze. Viennafair had much
were situated. In mid-October one of the most dynamic
more open formula. On one side it tried to attract col-
and prestigious events in the world: Frieze London and
lectors, heads of institutions and museums, but on the
Frieze Masters began in this place.
other side it wanted to improve the access, educate the audience from the outside, which did not visit to the fair
We try to give you the full reports in Contemporary
from a purely commercial reason – the fair was for these
Lynx website on most of the major art fairs, so this event
visitors rather an investment in the future. The Frieze
could not miss in our calendar. Already at first glance it
definitely didn’t concentrate on the educational and
Wilhelm Sasnal, Sadie Coles HQ, Stand D4, photo Contemporary Lynx
cognitive aspects. It was purely commercial event. And because both Frieze London and Frieze Masters were offering for sale the works of top class artists (at least this was the assumption), they respectively built the atmosphere and character of the fairs. In comparison with all the other events of this kind in the world, both Frieze fairs were exhibiting a relatively small number of galleries. The stands were usually very large and to relieve the “crowds” and ensure a comfortable stay to the customers, a hall tent was spacious and light – in such conditions everything was easy accessible and one couldn’t complain that it was too crowded and stuffy. In addition the organizers had effectively limited the access for those who didn’t have £ 32 in their pocket (and £ 50 for both parts of the fair) for the ticket. It was not possible to enter and just enjoy the art being gathered there. In such easy way the organizers weeded out the visitors not really involved in the art business. As we have already mentioned, there were very few exhibitors in comparison to the other fairs. Among them there were two galleries from Poland participating at Frieze London: Foundation Gallery Foksal and Raster Gallery. Both galleries looked well in comparison with the others. There were no revolts and. Raster Gallery having much smaller booth than a second Warsaw gallery was focused on showing the works of one artist – Aneta Grzeszykowska. Aneta Grzeszykowska, Raster, Stand F29, photo Contemporary Lynx
This presentation drew attention of many people and was counted among the leading exhibitors marked out
London placed in the Frieze London tent. A painting
for the best and for these which “have to be seen”.
of Wilhelm Sasnal was presented by Sadie Coles HQ,
Foksal Gallery Foundation, as opposed to Raster, exhib-
Marzena Nowak at Galerija Gregor Podnar booth and
ited a collective presentation of four artists: Wilhelm
Paulina Ołowska by Studio Voltaier, who organized also
Sasnal, Piotr Janas, Pawel Althamer and Monika Sos-
her exhibition in springtime. The minimalist work made
by Alice Kwade was presented at the Johann König Gallery booth.
Although the list of Polish galleries ended with these two representatives, the Polish artists were also shown
The beautiful and impressive bulky size installation by
at the stands of the foreign galleries. However there
Monika Sosnowska definitely deserved our attention
were also absolutely no surprises. The galleries showed
at the booth of The Modern Institute. Black, metal-
the artists who had worked with them for years, who
lic object resembling a platform with railings (lacking
had more than one solo exhibition in their premises.
stairs) gained the abstract character by reduction and
These were also chart-topping names, that were eas-
deformation. Also Galería Juana de Aizpuru tradition-
ily recognizable by an international audience. Marcin
ally showed the works by Mirosław Bałka. This time
Maciejowski’s images were exhibited at the stands of
there were two objects: “66x113x65” from 2008 and
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac and Wilkinson Gallery from
“170x55x40” from 2011. 33
Alina Szapocznikow, Untitled from the series Human Landscape (Pejzaż ludzki), 1971-1972, watercolor and fetl-tip pen on paper 64.8 x 49.6 cm, Peter Freeman Inc., Stand A8, photo Contemporary Lynx
The Frieze Masters placed on the opposite side of Re-
However the biggest surprise was created by Jerzy “Ju-
gent’s Park presented the works from antiquity till mod-
rry” Zieliński, whose painting “Lurking kiss” (”Czyhanie
ern times. Although there were no Polish exhibitors, we
pocałunku”) from 1969 was exhibited by a great Lon-
could come across the pearls visiting to the stands of
don-based gallery Luxembourg & Dayan at $ 75 000. As
the best international galleries. A beautiful watercolor
we found out, this work was sold on the first day of the
by Alina Szapocznikow from the years 1971-1972, orig-
fair. Moreover, the first British exhibition of Jurry was
inating from the series “Human Landscape”, was offered
opened in that gallery during the Frieze. It presents the
by the New York gallery Peter Freeman Inc. at $ 85 000.
works from both the private and public collections. This
Nearby, at the Dominique Lévy Gallery booth we could
Jerry’s exhibition was a great success not only on the
find a painting by Roman Opałka from the counted se-
exhibition ground, but also from the commercial point
ries “Detail 3462537-3479346” valued at $ 900 000.
of view. However, we will inform more about this event in the next article, which you can find on our website
Galerie Sanct Lucas presented a picture of the artist
from a slightly older generation – Mojżesz (Moise) Kisling, a representative of the École de Paris. A painting of Julian Stanczak – a pioneer of op-art, was shown at Gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash. The German gallery Berinson showed the photographs of Jósef Głogowski and the work of Wacław Karol Szpakowski. 34
words: Dobromila Blaszczyk
Monika Sosnowska, Ramp, 2012, painted steel, 210 x 380 x 210 cm, The Modern Institute, Stand C9, photo Contemporary Lynx
55th Biennale in Venice
For the next few months, this small city located on the
Second day was the day of intensive sightseeing and
lagoon will change into the centre of world art, where
huge emotions. Giardini was slightly wet, grey in the
at every step, in the tangle of narrow streets one can
rain. People were wearing Wellingtons, handing um-
come across “the embassies” of another national pavil-
brellas in their hands. However those who had come to
ions. They attract not only art lovers, but people inter-
the gardens seemed to not notice unpleasant weather.
ested in this unusual event as well. There is no way to
We went to the Polish Pavilion with blushes on the fac-
pass it without emotions.
es at once… It was one of the best pavilions we have seen! We were writing about Konrad Smoleński in the
We were also attracted by this Mediterranean bait.
former article announcing the Biennale. We mentioned
We were caught on the hook that will not be easy to
his fascination with sound and his interest in the way
remove after seeing Polish Pavilion…
how music affects together with its palpable almost material presence. We wrote, that music works in his
It all started innocently. We were passing Biennale’s
projects, as the compacted material pressing violently
posters and advertisements as well as tourists hand-
on the senses, is the power taking all of the body step
ing maps of this artistic event. After the arrival to Aca-
by step, the body that wants to leave the room. The
demic district – since Peggy Guggenheim Collection
project itself was then covered with mystery. Only
and at least quick gaze at the exhibition at Francois
some assumptions about its final impression could be
Pinault Foundation should not be omitted while being
stated, or at least suggestions what fields it will affect.
in Venice – Biennale came to us (though I had scheduled Biennale’s sightseeing for the next day, according to our guide…). Victor Pinchuk Foundation and PinchukArtCentre have created the exhibition of the winners and chosen artists of Future Generation Prize at Palazzo Contarini Polignac and among them, of course, Agnieszka Polska can be viewed. In the tangle of the palace corridors, halls, barely visible passages and rooms the art was appearing unexpectedly at almost every corner. That was also the way how we found Polska’s video “My favourite things“ shown in a little room. It is projected in the niche surrounded by fleshy curtains and imitating a theatre stage. The video is reminiscent of play during which the artist collects favourite things/ artworks. We were writing about Agnieszka in the article “How the work is done“. Her work presented in Venice was also described by us in this article.
Mirosław Bałka, Black Pope and Black Sheep, 1987, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
In the sound of the raindrops, we entered the space arranged by Konrad Smoleński, that was filled with silence. Two bells cast by the artist stood in the middle without any move. Just behind them two black, monumental and heavy speaker boxes were located, in the background of opposite walls, covered with tin plates. Silence. Like in the proverb: silence before the storm – peace and tension. At the full time the play for the senses began. Slowly the bells, swinging stronger and stronger, started to release well-known metallic and deep sound that made our bodies standing at attention. When it was over sound recorded alive (modified – slowed, elongated and cut off the beating tone) was brought to the constant sound, that started to resound from the speakers. At that moment, the next modifica-
Jakub Julian Ziółkowski’s artwork at Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
tion occurred and another speakers, located behind
was the utopian dream. So, Venice exhibition tried to
the metal doors of drawers, started to release very low
collect those infinitely numerous paintings and images
tones that made resonating not only the metal draw-
of the world. But from the beginning it was certain,
ers, but whole building also. The more and more power-
that utopia is impossible to create as a wholeness. In
ful, intensive and constant sound started to make our
general, the exhibition was slightly chaotic and trying
bodies and senses vibrating. Sound was going through
to fill the huge space of buildings in the first place (in
us. We became the part of installation that was spread-
the exhibition took part 150 artists from 38 countries).
ing outside the pavilion without any borders .
Nevertheless individual works were really interesting. Jakub Julian Ziółkowski was granted with space spe-
Definitely it must be the obligatory stop, that cannot
cially sectioned for him. The artist from Cracow col-
be missed while visiting at Giardini (Golden Lion for
laborating among others with Hauser&Wirth Gallery
Best National Participation went to Angola Luanda,
presents his newest works kept in the characteristic
Encyclopedic City Edson Chagas).
surreal manner. The interesting thing is, that the painter created a series of images, in which he developed
But, although Konrad Smoleński is the strongest point,
his own universe by connecting to the modern bestiary
he is not the only Polish artist present in the gardens.
wrote by Jorge Luis Borges (where the descriptions of
As the part of main exhibition „Il Palazzo Encicloped-
120 creatures taken from folklore and mythology are
ico” taking place in two locations, it is possible to see
found). It is full of the creatures, deviations – like from
a video of Artur Żmijewski “Blindly“ (2010) in Central
the paintings of Bosch – and as the artist explained “the
Pavilion at Gardini , while at Arsenale the installation of
visions, that are created when the mind becomes its
Paweł Althamer, paintings of Jakub Julian Ziółkowski
own planet for itself“.
and Mirosław Bałka’s work. In spite of so many words of delight about this main exhibition, it did not make
A very interesting part of the exhibition at Arsenale
the same impression on me. The exhibition’s idea came
curated by Cindy Sherman deserves for a special atten-
from the project of Italian-American artist Marino Au-
tion. This American artist in her activity deals with the
riti, who wanted to establish Encyclopedic Palace. Its
assumption was to become imaginary museum collect-
of wearing masks, becoming part of some stereotypical
ing all of the most important mankind’s discoveries.
role or defining ones identity with the use of culturally
To collect all of the available knowledge and show the
described images. She created the exhibition, which is
image of world, that will capture its beauty and wealth
the extension of her works. This collection of the vari-
Paweł Althamer, Venetians, 2013, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
ous artists’ works presents dolls, mannequins, masks,
from which e.g. those sculptures are made. It is a kind
religious “idols” and symbols of Christianity. This is the
of tribute to the factory of his father and group work
place, where one of the early works of Mirosław Bałka
of many people involved in one project. It is a group
can be viewed (the artist that created the installation
portrait of workers, but many Venetians as well, whose
for London Turbin Hall in Tate Modern, in 2009). “Black
faces were cast right before the opening of Biennale.
Pope and Black Sheep“ is the work from the beginning
Paweł Althamer took also part in the exhibition of V-A-
of his career (it was created in 1987). Disturbing, mum-
C Foundation at the neighbouring island Casa dei Tre
mified figures of pope and sheep, despite using of tradi-
Oci. His works were combined with the ones of Russian
tional insignia, have lost their original pronunciation. It
artist Anatoly Osmolovsky. An interesting part of the
is no longer the declaration of immortality, joyful wait-
exhibition were the videos and works of both artists
ing for the resurrection or consolation and support for
related to the post-communist reality and attempts of
the people. It is rather the statue of times, that robbed
finding oneself in it together with carnality and new
it of spiritual hope and freedom.
possibilities, that stands in front of the man. The works of both artists created in parallel present amazing simi-
Paweł Althamer presented spectacular installation “Venetians” in the other part of Arsenale. The whole space of hall was filled with “the mirages“ of people caught during various activities, acting like the shadows/reflections of tourists and lagoon’s residents wandering among them. Following the traces from the past of hundreds of Venetians that lived and worked in the most important and modern shipyard – a factory of Venetian fleet mighty. “Venetians“ is the next project from the series of “Almech“ initiated in 2011 during his individual exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim. It is a result of Althamer’s collaboration with his father’s factory (called Almech), which produces plastic part
Natalia LL, Untitled, from the series Postconsumer Art, Natalia LL “The Grammar of The Body”, UPP Gallery in Venice, photo Contemporary Lynx
larities in the way of approach to the problem in spite of the distance between them, different perspective of their creation and mentality. They complement each other in building the image of artist/man slightly lost in the turbulent, recovering everyday life of the 90ties – post-communist daily life. A little farther on the coast of the same island Giudecca, in the small, modestly arranged Galleria Upp we visited the exhibition of Natalia LL (Lach-Lachowicz) – one of the most important artists of the 70ties, co-founder of Polish the 70ties and the 80ties neo-avant garde. The presentation titled meaningfully “The Grammar of The Body“ consisted of video, silver prints from the series Consumer Art (1972), Post-Consumer Art (1975) from the 70ties, contemporary prints of the works from that period and some newer works from the series Animal Art (1977-2013). Almost iconic photos and motives of Natalia’s art were presented during the exhibition. She was one of the few artists in communist Poland, and one of the first women in the global scale of the modern history of art as well, that dealt with the subject of carnality, sexuality and the role of woman in culture (or even more stereotypes connected with these concepts). The images of women shown at bold poses, sometimes almost porn shots are consciously related to the images from porn magazines and subjects connected to consumerism. The woman was led to the role of object, the element devoted to the world’s consumerism, that was dominated by males in those days. On the other hand, we are dealing here with the matter of consumption, willingness or even desire to possess, that became a fetish of our times, comparable to sex and erotic – but it takes perverted forms close to pornography. It is worth to mention here, that this gallery has collaborated with Natalia LL for some time. They presented this uncompromised artist at Artissima fairs in Turin last year. words: Dobromila Blaszczyk translation: Katarzyna Wójcik
Exhibition of Paweł Althamer and Anatoly Osmolovsky: Parallel Convergences curated by Nicholas Cullinan, Casa dei Tre Oci, Venice 2013, photo Contemporary Lynx
Mateusz SzczypiĹ„ski, Crosswords, 2013, oil, paper on canvas, 130 x 100 cm, photo courtesy the artist and lokal_30
lynx-eyed Norman Leto, Portrait of Piotr Bazylko, 2010, photograph generated from a computer program analyzing curriculum vitae, 60 x 60 cm, courtesy Piotr Bazylko
Zbigniew Rogalski, Cups, courtesy Dr Werner Jerke
Collecting ? It’s kind of a sickness. If I like something I have to get it. It’s kind of an addiction – almost a disease. I had waited for some paintings for five or ten years Werner Jerke
The Art is a common good which belongs to the society no matter who is it’s actual owner
coll e c tor
Contemporary Lynx: The Art Basel fairs have just started. It is one of the most important art shows in the world. Poland is represented by two galleries. Let this event be a pretext for a conversation with the collector who holds one of the greatest and the most important abroad collections of the Polish art. Are You going to Basel this year ? Werner Jerke: Unfortunately I have to say: no. For the first time since few years I didn’t go to Basel due to the construction works of the Museum… I had a free week, specially reserved for the Art Basel, but during this time we had few meetings with the architect. This year, the Museum was more important than Basel. But, in general, yes, usually I go to Basel every year. CL: Do You have some favorite art shows ? WJ: In total I have three favorite art shows in which I participate. It is Art Basel, Art Cologne and TEFAF Maastricht. Maastricht is probably less popular in Poland. These art shows present not only the modern art but an art in general. There are the old masters, the African and the Ancient Greek art, books and the jewellery of the highest quality and what interests me the most – the art of Oceania, for example masks and reliefs. The additional advantage of Maastricht is that every object which is being delivered to the art shows is checked by an appropriate commission. The commission is organized by the art shows and is composed of the experts in narrow fields, specialized in the modern art, the ancient art, the books and design. Every object is checked by them what ensures the highest quality of the objects presented during the Maastricht trades. These trade fairs are also very expensive for the visitors what makes that lots of people 44
go there to introduce themselves on the market. The Art Cologne fairs are developing more and more. These trade fairs, and not the Art Basel, are the oldest ones. It’s a pity that in Cologne there are so few Polish galleries. CL: Does it happen to You to buy works during these art trade shows ? WJ: Yes, I’ve already bought some things during the trade shows, however, the most important ones I’ve purchased outside the art shows. CL: Collecting is not only buying but also “leading” a collection. It often happens that the collectors lend the works, organize the open exhibitions of their collections, publish catalogues and books. The works from Your collection are shown on exhibitions. Recently, the artworks by Alina Szapocznikow were presented on the notorious retrospective exhibition i.a. in the MoMA in New York. At the end of 2012, the artworks of Samuel Szczekacz were presented at the Atlas Sztuki. Do You lend the art works willingly for the exhibitions / do you like sharing them with a large audience ? WJ: As regards Alina Szapocznikow, indeed two of her works coming from my collection were shown in the MoMA. Three drawings of Władysław Strzemiński will be now lent for the exhibition in Norway. You know, in my opinion, if someone is an owner of a piece of art it’s not only his property. The masterpiece belongs to the society in general and I’m only lucky enough to keep it for a moment. Everybody leaves this world some day and somebody takes his belongings. Now I’m lucky to possess it, but in fact, it’s not mine, so I feel obliged to show to the people the art works from my collection and not to keep
them only for my own pleasure. I like to lend the art works for the exhibitions, but I have to highlight that for lending your collection you don’t get anything in return. Probably sometimes it’s harmful for the art works and stressful for the collector. For instance, these two mentioned art works of Szapocznikow were not only in NY, but also at the Hammer Museum in LA, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus in Ohio. As a result, I didn’t see them for almost a year. I treat them as if they were my kids and You can only imagine that when they’re away from home for over a year, “daddy” is starting to worry about how they’re going to come back. To sum up, it’s stressful but I lend the art works willingly. CL: You went even further, You’re planning to open a Museum… WJ: As I’ve already said, I think that the art is a common good which belongs to the society no matter who is it’s actual owner. Lending the art works was a step forward to share some masterpieces but as a final result I’d like to show the greater part of my collection. The one and only possibility is building the Museum. It won’t be a building of the dimensions similar to those of MOCAK in Cracow. It’ll be a lot smaller but I hope to show there lots of interesting works. Many of my friends collect the Polish art. The paintings of Polish artists are hanging inside their houses. However, I think it’s still too little. I’d like the greater part of the society to know the Polish art.
tute in Düsseldorf likes this idea. In the future, I’d like to do something in the framework of this Institute. Financing the chosen artists would be the next step. As You may know, since few years we’re sponsoring the meetings of the Polish geometry artists, now in Warsaw, before in Orońsko, led by the professor Bożena Kowalska (editor’s note: the exhibitions in the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, the Mazovian Centre of Contemporary Art “Elektrownia”). Supporting the artists, also financially, is the essential point of our project. To sum up, the Foundation would carry out three basic functions: maintaining the collection, organizing the exhibitions and eventually supporting the artists. At the beginning, the Museum should be open on Friday and Saturday. Firstly, I have to see how big is the interest and how does it work. I don’t want to keep it open all week long if it happens that there’s one visitor every two days. If the interest is big enough, I’ll think about the stuff. CL: Where will the Museum be situated ? WJ: I managed to buy the building in the very center of Recklinghausen, nearby the Museum of Icons – the biggest Museum of icons outside the orthodox countries. This is a really beautiful building and I’m glad that we will function next to each other. It’s situated nearby the oldest square in Recklinghausen. Nowadays, the archeologists are there on a dig because the building is located in the area where
CL: Where did this idea come from ? WJ: Every collector probably dreams about it. You only have to take it in your own hands and make the dreams come true. The problem I faced was to convince my family. Building a museum and running it is not much of a business. It’s an expensive hobby. Fortunately, I managed to persuade my wife and my daughters that I want to make my hobby more public. CL: Will the Museum collection include the art works from Your collection ? WJ: Yes, it will. I’d like my collection to become a permanent exhibition. CL: What will be the programme of this institution ? (temporary exhibitions, permanent presentation, projects of the cultural exchange ?) WJ: I don’t have a concept as regards the construct, however I’d like a Foundation focused exclusively on the Polish art that would function in the Museum. I’d like to manage to organize there, once or twice year, the exhibition of Polish modern artists. I have good relations with a great number of Polish galleries. It seems to me that if I managed to organize such exhibitions in Germany, it would be something interesting. I wouldn’t need to play a curator. This would belong to the people who are specialized in it. Katarzyna Sokołowska, the Director of the Polish InstiWilhelm Sasnal, Magnetowid (Video Recorder), courtesy Dr Werner Jerke
previously was situated the mansion founded by Charlemagne. On this square, between the Museum of Icons and my Museum an old well was discovered and the city is planning to renovate the whole square. As a result, it wouldn’t be on the outer periphery of the city but in its heart. I hope that all this will make more people visit my Museum. CL: This meeting of different cultures, histories and modern art make appear new contexts… WJ: I agree, it would be the contrast between the medieval art, the orthodox icons and Polish art. It would be quite an interesting place. CL: When is the opening planned ? WJ: It depends on the archeologists, on whether they find anything. If they do, the opening day may be postponed. Nevertheless, I hope that we will be able to open this Museum the next year. CL: Where did You got the interest in art ? WJ: I don’t know (laugh). I’m interested in art since a long time. I suppose that it began when as a child I had a car accident and I was in hospital for five months. It happened in Poland in the 70s. There was no TV in the hospital so I read a lot of books, it was the only entertainment. When I had read all the teen books, the librarian brought me a book about the French artist, Maurice Utrillo. It was my first approach to art. Later, I started reading more and
more books on that subject. After passing my matura exam, I moved from my small village Pyskowice, located nearby Gliwice, to Cracow where I started my geography studies. The studies in Cracow are something really extraordinary. You have a contact with art at every turn – and this is what made the biggest impression on me. At the beginning, it was indeed under the influence of that city, that I started buying works from the Young Poland period. As for Utrillo, when my apprenticeship in medicine here in Germany was well developed I bought his small watercolour painting (he painted an incredible amount of paintings). What’s interesting is that this work had been already shown on the exhibitions in Japan four times, yes, exactly this one – it made me so happy. However, it was in Cracow where I felt the real passion for art. At every turn there’s some museum or historical monument. It’s probably the only European city where there’s an interaction of so many historical eras in one place. For example, when you’re walking down the Grodzka street you can notice the Romanesque art neighbouring the Gothic, Baroque and modern art. During the studies I lived in the dorm and every day walked down this street to the Geography Institute nearby the Royal Wawel Castle. Such things affect you. After my studies I went to Germany to study medicine but during that period I was going back to Poland very often, to Cracow and to Warsaw. Thank God, my financial situation was good enough so that I could afford the higher class art works. CL: Do You remember Your first purchased masterpiece ? WJ: The first work I got was the painting by Witold Pruszkowski, „Aquarius”. I bought it in a gallery in Cracow which doesn’t exist anymore but its owners still have an antique shop. I bought my first painting from them. CL: So You started collecting the turn of the century paintings ? WJ: Yes, it was due to Cracow. However, immediately after it was the avant-garde that started intriguing me. CL: Does Your collection has a specific profile, so You collect the paintings dating from concrete time periods, or You select them at certain angle ? WJ: I could divide my collection in three groups. The first one is composed of the Polish avant-garde – 20s and 30s. However, there are not only the art works. I’ve collected also almost all publications concerning the 20s and 30s (only in Poland). In my opinion it’s one of the best and most interesting avant-gardes. For instance, look at the cover of the book of poems by Julian Przyboś, “Śruby”, “Z ponad” (“Sponad”) or at the covers by Władysław Strzemiński – is there anything better to see about that period? The second group of my collection, not so ample and a bit “aside” group, represent l’École de Paris – Henri Hayden, Leopold Gottlieb, Louis Marcoussis. The third one is composed of the art works dating from the 60s to nowadays. It is the group I’d like to show in the Museum.
Paweł Książek, courtesy Dr Werner Jerke
“Edition Jerke” Pinot Noir 2011, Weinzer Kreuzberg, courtesy Dr Werner Jerke, Konrad Szukalski from Agra-Art Auction House
I’m thinking about constructing a small wing dedicated to the art of the 20s and 30s but I have to think it over once more. If I made up my mind I would like to cooperate with some curator, maybe Polish one, who would help me present all of this properly. CL: Do You collect the works of young artists as well ? WJ: Yes, of course. Many of them are my friends who I invite frequently to my house. They’re often my guests. Nevertheless, even if I’m socializing with them I always buy their works via galleries. I have never tried to omit the galleries and buy directly from the artists. It would probably be cheaper but I think that every collector should support the galleries. After all, such gallery owners introduce an artist to the art market and promote him in an appropriate way. They just merit to be supported. Thanks to their galleries, many artists have an opportunity to present themselves and the collectors can find them. A young artist doesn’t have a chance to present his works on such events like the Art Cologne or the Art Basel and this is the point where the galleries play their role – they introduce him to the art world. I think that it’s not fair if a collector buys directly from an artist. I always buy in the galleries. CL: I heard about an interesting idea that You cooperate with the young creators by mixing two passions – wine and art, is that true ? WJ: Yes, indeed, I have such a hobby of mine. I’m an owner of two vineyards where the wine is produced (editor’s
note: the vineyard is being managed according to the strict rules of the wine culture. Since 1994, it’s an annual leader on the list of German 100 best wines, member of “VDP Prädikatsweingüter”, the oldest vineyard association in the world, and winner of the “Feinschmecker Wine-Award” in 2011 as “the best collection of the year”). The labels / covers of bottles of the particular vintage are designed by Polish artists. In the previous year the labels were designed by Sławek Elsner and this year by Zbyszek Rogalski. Two bottles were even put up for auction. One, here in Germany, and another one in Poland in the Auction House Agra-Art. CL: Where did this idea come from ? WJ: It’s actually the Rotschilds’ idea which pleased me. They also have the wine labels designed by artists, for example by Picasso, Miró, Chagall, Braque, Warhol, Bacon, Balthus (editor’s note: in 2012 Jeff Koons was invited to cooperation). So I thought: why not doing the same but with the Polish artists ? CL: You said that You buy mainly via galleries, but is it really the only way ? WJ: I happen to buy in auction houses, usually the works of deceased artists who do not have their own galleries. Actually, I was purchasing at auctions at the beginning of my art adventure. I buy about 90% of works in Poland but I happen to buy abroad, for example here in Germany. The art market in Poland is different from the German one. 47
For example, the auction houses in Poland have different character than their western equivalents which are focused mainly on auctions while the Polish auction houses are also galleries where you can purchase the paintings without an auction. It’s not a bad idea. CL: When You started collecting, how did you select the works ? Were You asking for advice and support or were You following your instincts and preferences ? WJ: Often, the galleries suggest me some artist but if he doesn’t appeal to my preferences I won’t buy his works no matter who tells me about his chances on the market and how good he seems to become. I’m very glad for the information shared and discussions held with the gallery owners but I don’t want somebody to persuade me to buy something. The choice is mine. However, sometimes I won’t tell that I want the works of certain artist in my collection. You can see the works of an artist mostly by visiting the galleries. If there’s only one painting out of ten I like, I choose it but this choice is very subjective. I wouldn’t explain it by the fact that this one work is good and the others are not, but it’s simply the kind of art I appreciate. CL: Collecting, what does it mean to You ? Why did collecting the art works become so important to You ? WJ: It’s kind of a sickness. If I like something I have to get it. It’s kind of an addiction – almost a disease. I had waited
for some paintings for five or ten years. The collection begins only when the walls are covered with paintings. When You put the works behind the sofa or in the basement… Beforehand it’s only a decoration. CL: What is the difference between the Polish collectors and those, for example, from Germany ? WJ: The only difference I can see, but it’s nothing negative, is that the Polish collectors are focused on the Polish art. I mean, some people happen to buy the works of the western creators and sometimes the works go to different institutions but it’s not the main core of their collection. I don’t know anyone who would collect the western art. Maybe the reason for this is the fact that the salaries of most Polish people are too low to let them afford the collection. The historical context is not without the meaning. In the western countries, for generations people were achieving wealth, houses, cars and holiday houses and then it was time to start an art collection. In Poland, it was only since the 90s when people could enjoy the benefits of a free market and as a result the society needed at first place to fulfill its basic needs and then to collect the art. There’s nothing extraordinary in it. CL: Do You collect the paintings of foreign artists ? WJ: Yes, I do. I collect the paintings of the German avantgarde artists from the 20s and 30s. Maybe in the future I will manage to create a small comparative exhibition of the Polish and German avant-garde. I would like to complete this part of the Polish art collection with the German art and present it to the audience. The Polish and German cultures have a lot in common. The only difference is language but the art is very similar. Even our cuisines and food preferences are pretty similar. Come to think of it, which other two countries in Europe have so similar cuisines? Lots of people do not appreciate the intercultural connections between these two nations. Certainly, the history didn’t spare bad circumstances in the relations between them but for instance Szczecin is an example of how the Polish culture and Polish city affect the German area. In the surroundings of Szczecin, on the German side, there is no other bigger city. And that’s why I started wondering: why shouldn’t the Polish art museum be created in the Ruhr district? The one third of the society living here has Polish origins. It has begun in the end of XIXth century when a lot of people came here from Masuria to work in the mines. I moved from Silesia. Before the war, the football team in Schalke was composed only of Poles, and this is one of the most important teams. Schalke is situated in a distance of 10 km from Recklinhausen. The Polish culture suits here. CL: You collect the Polish art in Germany and now You create there the Polish Art Museum. What is the reception of this art in Germany ? What is people’s reaction when You tell them about national artists ?
Alina Szapocznikow, Fajrant (End of Day’s Work), 1971, polyester resin, rubber glove, brush, 26 x 16 x 11 cm, courtesy Dr Werner Jerke
It’s an art dating from different time periods. In Munich you can often find the works of the artists from the Munich school. The widest category of paintings that are being sold in Germany include works of Kossak and Brandt. In Berlin you could already buy paintings of Roman Opałka and Sasnal. CL: Who buys the Polish art in Germany ? WJ: It depends. On the one hand, Poles living in Germany, and on the other hand – Germans. Some of my friends buy the art works, but it’s still not so much. My daughters started collecting also. The elder one started with Kossak’s painting and she has recently bought the work of Sławek Elsner. You can distinguish three categories of persons who buy: Germans, Germans with Polish origins and Poles (in one third) who come specially for the auctions. CL: Do You think there is a „demand” or rather an interest in the Polish art in western countries ? Andrzej Wróblewski, Portrait of a Woman, courtesy Dr Werner Jerke
WJ: The reception is really positive. Few days before I bought the building and started telling people that I would build there the Museum I had met the mayor and few other persons who were delighted with this Polish art idea and they declared themselves to support me as much as they can. Some articles about my project were already published in the local press. In my medical practice, almost every day I talk with my patients about it. They ask questions, discuss and express their opinion that it’s a brilliant idea to introduce the Polish art here in Germany. This warm reception astonished me. Initially I thought that if anyone criticized me it would be all right but I didn’t expect such a positive attitude. Of course, not everyone knows the Polish artists but really – who (without studying the history of art) could know Władysław Strzemiński or Katarzyna Kobro fifteen or even twenty years ago? Germans need to be educated in the field of Polish art. Of course for those who study art these names aren’t unfamiliar. Everyone heard of Wilhelm Sasnal but I’d like to expand this knowledge. For the exhibition of Szapocznikov in New York I took twelve people from Recklinhausen. People are curious but firstly you have to show them something. CL: What about the Polish artists on the German market ? WJ: They still play there a marginal role. Our auction houses in Germany don’t resemble those in USA or in England. Some artists appear on the market but usually it’s an incidental phenomenon.
WJ: Yes, there’s a demand. However, it’s also time to educate people. Anyone who didn’t hear about them wouldn’t buy their works. CL: Your Museum will be a great example of a place for such activity… WJ: It won’t be very big but if somebody follows my example and observe it elsewhere, maybe he will join this project. This is the only way to show the Polish art and there’s a lot to do about it. CL: What should be another milestone in the Polish art market to get out of this niche ? WJ: I think that probably the only problem is making the art export more and more difficult. In my opinion, the government should help the art market in that matter. Unfortunately people are afraid of buying in Poland because they wonder how they will take their newly purchased goods abroad. The export procedures are very complicated but this problem may still be solved so that foreigners could buy on auctions and in galleries in Poland. However, when I talk with different people I often hear a statement: “But if I bought something, I couldn’t take it out of the country”. CL: Thank you and we will keep our fingers crossed for Your Museum ! interviewed: Dobromila Blaszczyk translation: Katarzyna Przybyś
Krzysztof Masiewicz Piotr Bazylko coll e c tors
Contemporary Lynx: Both of you have jobs which are not strictly connected with art. So how was born the idea of creating a blog which, for many people, has become a guidebook in Polish modern art. Krzysztof Masiewicz: We have met while recollecting works during charity auction about 9 years ago. It was a pure coincidence. If Piotr didn’t talk to me back then, ArtBazaar would not exist now. This whole story is described in our book “77 art pieces with history.” The blog is a result of our later conversations and desire to create something we both looked for – a place where people can find out more about Polish modern art, read interviews with young artists, see what can be found in studios of Academy of Fine Arts or simply to read about art market. Back then it was not to be find neither on the Internet nor in newspapers. We also wanted to share our experience as collectors systematically, what and why we buy. At the beginning we wanted to appear under pseudonyms such as: Sergeant Basil and Colonel Dowgird which made many people angry as they thought it to be some kind of market manipulation. However, when we revealed ourselves, the consternation was even bigger, because we were outsiders, known only by gallery owners. There were even some doubts do we have a right to write about the art and art market if we are not from this branch. CL: Was there a moment when running the blog, you realized that you have a power to influence people’s opinions ?
The most difficult is probably to make a first step, to buy first work. It is hard to break a barrier of “reason” and for more or less money buy something as unnecessary as painting.
Piotr Bazylko: For a very long time we weren’t aware of that. But I think that the turning point was publishing a book “Contemporary collectors’ guidebook” at the end of 2008. During a meeting with readers in Cracow a space was full, discussion very passionate which finished long after scheduled ending. It was also back then when we were attacked by an academic society that a way we talk about art is too simple, that we treat collecting art as an adventure rather than sacredness, and that we pay too much attention to the art market. Today these allegations seem to be funny but it shows how many things in Poland have changed. CL: Your activity has evaluated for many years. You started as bloggers who shown an interesting events, artists with many perspectives and you were also giving some advice to people who were at the beginning of their art collection journey. Today ArtBazaar is one of the most interesting blogs about the art. In the meantime you have created ArtBazaar records, you launch limited editions of CDs and cassettes, publish catalogues, organize exhibitions, present limited series of works. How do you see your role/place in Polish art world ? PB: Somebody one day described what we do as “committed collecting.” It is about not only collecting art for your own pleasure but also about giving something in return to other people. We don’t have such funds to open our own studios, as for example Anita Zabludowicz in London, we neither can’t create such space as Grażyna Kulczyk did in Poznań. However, we do what we can and what interests us. It is still a little chaotic but I thing that this is the charm
of what we do. Sometimes even we don’t know what our next project will be… KM: We would like that the things we do were inspiring, to show that art collecting is not about an investment or decorating apartments but rather a great adventure which is available for anybody who has an idea for the future and for own collection. CL: You form a perfect duet for many years. So how does your shared work look like ? Either on creating the blog or other artistic projects ? PB: Normally. We talk a lot with each other, sometimes a few times a day, and we write a lot. On the one hand we are interested in the same things, but when it comes to details we usually choose different pieces of the same artist. We also have a feeling that our common work, except of being a great adventure, enriches us. Because of it we open our eyes on art which could have been unnoticed. I am really glad that ArtBazaar exists for 7 years now. It is worth to mention that during this time we published almost 1500 texts on our website. So it is easy to notice that we work with each other for quite some time. KM: We also both have an awareness that this is a team work, who has time is doing a project or running the blog. When someone don’t have time then there is still a certainty that the other person will take care of it. When none of us has time it isn’t a tragedy. It is still our hobby, an important one, but just a hobby.
CL: What are your plans ? What are ArtBazaar’s directions ? KM: We don’t have any specific plans that in a few years from now we would like to be in some particular place or achieve a particular goal. However, on the basis of our experience we can notice that our involvement in writing a blog everyday is decreasing. On one hand this is a result of the fact that other blogs or websites offer much more – we don’t have to write about everything because others do it better or get some materials faster so there is no point in writing about the same thing twice. We also have a feeling that not so much is going on in the art as it was 5, 10 years ago, when this was the time of such an explosion of artistic talents, establishing new cultural institutions, creating of institutional collections. Collecting is also about generations. Our generation of artists is now becoming adults, the same as our collections. There is a stabilization. However, we are sure that we would like to devote more energy to our project “We record the sounds of Polish art” which is ArtBazaar Records. We both think that this is very meaningful and unique element of Polish modern art which is surprisingly unnoticeable on a wider range. PB: Yes. ArtBazaar Records is our beloved child. For me really this is a mystery why it didn’t meet with a better reception of the society. But I’ve heard that editors of Alma Art records also faced sale difficulties and today these are unique. This is why I hope so that time also will be a blessing for ArtBazaar Records.
Dan Perjovschi, sketches for the Venice Biennale 2009_ marker and fineliner on paper, 5 drawings, courtesy Piotr Bazylko
krzysztof masiewicz / piotr bazylko
CL: In 2008 you published “Contemporary collectors’ guidebook.” Where this idea was born from ? Was it about the things that you were not sure about at the beginning ? Did you notice a necessity to explain and guide people through the art ?
convince many of them to buy anything other than paintings. Even buying a drawing may be hard. But this is also changing and I hope that more and more collectors will make brave and unconventional decisions.
PB: It was definitely about the things which interested us and we felt that this knowledge, presented to Polish collectors or future collectors in a simple way is somehow missing. An idea was born due to inspiration of Bogna Świątkowska, the boss of influential Bęc Zmiana Fundation. She invited us to prepare a bilingual edition of “Notes” concerning contemporary art market. For Polish people it was suppose to be a beginning of collecting and for foreign collectors an introduction to Polish art. A success of “Notes” resulted in that Bogna offered us writing a book, which was published due to support of ING Group.
CL: What is the most doubtful thing for those who would like to start collecting art ?
CL: If you published this guidebook now, would it be different than the first edition ? PB: This is an interesting question. We would like to write a new version of Guidebook five years later but we haven’t found a publisher yet
KM: The most difficult is probably to make a first step, to buy first work. It is hard to break a barrier of “reason” and for more or less money buy something as unnecessary as painting. We can also add to it some doubts whether we really like this painting, if it is not infantile, bad or trashy and can we trust our own taste ? PB: It is important to believe in yourself and don’t be afraid. Sometimes it is hard because the world of the contemporary art seems to be conceited, focused on itself and inaccessible from the outside. And in reality it is not like that and we try to show it since many years. Later on it is only getting easier.
KM: Our experience is now significantly bigger than when we were writing the Guidebook. We have experienced some kind of stability or collection essence which are states that we didn’t know before. We are able to look on some processes from a different perspective. CL: What should be the direction of a person who would like to start collecting the newest Polish art ? PB: Why Polish in particular? Maybe we should not limit ourselves only to Polish art? Maybe it could be this of Central and Eastern Europe? I can speak from a perspective of a collector who is wealthy, as for Polish standards, but not rich. I think that a majority of Polish collectors has the same financial situation. So you have to be very brave and fast – to be one step or even two ahead of others. Only then we will have a choice and we will be able to buy interesting works for a reasonable price. Of course we can’t “shot in the darkness” – you need knowledge and need to have your finger on the pulse: visiting exhibitions, contact with gallery owners, visit studios. And reading, searching on the Internet. It is important to listen as many advisors as possible, and not limit to one, even the best one. CL: In your opinion who collects art today in Poland ? On what kind of art contemporary collectors are focused on ? PB: I am surprised how “Polish” are Polish collectors. How they limit themselves only to Polish art. Maybe it is a result of that galleries in Poland almost always represent Polish artists? Second thing which shocks me, is the fact of collectors being so conservative – how difficult is to 52
Andrzej Wróblewski, Man (Mężczyzna), 1956, gouache on canvas, 42 x 29 cm, courtesy Piotr Bazylko
CL: What are the difficulties connected with buying works in Poland? Do you think that when living abroad it is easy to buy the contemporary art from Poland ?
Konrad Smoleński, courtesy Krzysztof Masiewicz
PB: I think it was never easier than it is now. There is a website www.artvolver.com, where you can buy a great Polish art. There was even established a society of Warsaw galleries which organize Warsaw Gallery Weekend. And finally when Stereo Gallery will move to Warsaw (it will happen in September) then all significant commercial contemporary art galleries will be present in this city. And plane tickets to Warsaw from West Europe cost few Euros. CL: You are also collectors. Both of you independently, as first pieces, have chosen works of the Gruppa artists. It is strictly connected with your passion for works of their “pioneer” Andrzej Wróblewski and their “successors” which are artists from previous group “Ładnie.” You often write that aware collecting is about giving a character to your collection, some king of base and main theme. Could you please describe your collections ? Are your above mentioned passions reflected in your collections ? PB: Yes they are. Our complicated history of 20th and 21st century is one of the themes of my collections. This is why I am interested in works of Wróblewski, Gruppa artists or “Ładnie” Group. Second theme are music fragments, connections between visual arts and music. I have succeeded in having a mini collection on that topic – both paintings, photographs and objects or films of such artists as: Wojciech Bąkowski, Christian Marclay, Szymon Kobylarz, Jonathan Monk, Zbigniew Rogalski, Laurie Anderson, Paweł Książek, Ciprian Muresan, Adam Witkowski and many others. Another theme is self-portraits. This part of collection we once presented with Krzysztof Masiewicz’ s one at the exhibition “Portret własny”
in Ujazdowski Castle in 2008. And at the end maybe not so much a theme but rather a group of artists which can be shortly described as “tired of reality” or new surrealists. I managed to create an interesting, in my opinion of course, collection of works of Jakub Julian Ziółkowski, Tomek Kowalski, Paweł Śliwiński, Tymek Borowski, Piotr Janas, Mateusz Szczypiński, Paweł Dunal or Michał Chudzicki. My latest pieces of this part of collection are paintings and drawings of Ewa Juszkiewicz and I am really pleased with these. KM: My collection, from historical point of view, is based on this line Wróblewski – Gruppa – Ładnie – Penerstwo. This is a main road with variety and surprising side roads. The most important for me is Andrzej Wróblewski but except of his work I have many graphics of his mother Krystyna Wróblewska which led me to the interest in pre-war graphic of artists living in Wilno and from this, purely accidentally, was created a quite interesting separate collection. Just like Piotrek, a separate theme of my collection is a mirage of music and art. Here I have great works of Konrad Smoleński, Wojtek Bąkowski, Paweł Książek, Tomek Kowalski, Kuba Dąbrowski or Czesław Niemen. A separate sub-collection of music theme is KOT group and its publishing, tidbits and documentation. I am also interested in theme of sacrum in art and here I own works of Andrzej Wróblewski, Ryszard Woźniak, Rafał Bujnowski or Mateusz Szczypiński. I have also a meaningful collection of original comics art which in many places is a complement to my favorite themes in art. This part of my collection lately brings me most of joy.
krzysztof masiewicz / piotr bazylko
will be a painting by Ania Okrasko then we receive a very interesting spatial arrangement. Every one of these elements takes something from the other. PB: Artist records for me today is a significant part of my collection. I think that probably this part has the most of my attention than any other one. Maybe because of the fact that I have so many records to get. My collection is combined of a few hundreds of records and among theme there are some unique ones such as this of Jeremy Deller (released only in 50 copies) or only one ever released record of Robert Kuśmirowski. Additionally I also collect art pieces which insert a motive of vinyl record, such as those of Haroon Mirza, Milan Kniżak, Marcel Duchamp, Ajit Chauchan, Zbyszek Rogalski, Slavs&Tatars, Rose Eken and many other. In my case this is also not a completion of collection but rather its integral part. CL: Could you please point out one thing which would be this first step, a stimulating element, a helping hand to fasten a development of the contemporary Polish art ?
Ciprian Muresan, Communism Never Happened, 2007, subtitles from vinyl with propaganda music from the 80s., ed. 3_ Grzegorz Klaman, Study of Lech Wałęsa, 2010, plaster, ed.5, courtesy Piotr Bazylko
KM: In my opinion there is no such thing, or maybe I put it differently: all of them which should happened have already happened – artists’ successes, international attention, new exhibition institutions, auction houses, efficient and modern galleries. The newest Polish art is doing fine, it is presented in private and public galleries. Of course it could always be better: institutions could have much more money, the government could promote and support art better, etc. but this would not influence significantly the development of the contemporary Polish art.
CL: What was the first impulse to start collecting art ? CL: Thank you for this conversation. KM: There were many impulses, such as reading a book “My galleries, My painters” by famous art dealer Henry Kahnwailer…
interviewed: Dobromila Blaszczyk & Sylwia Krason translation: Katarzyna Ujma
PB: Honestly, I don’t remember this first impulse. For real I have started to collect art after a few-months course in Warsaw School of Photography, which was a birthday gift from my wife. I haven’t become a better photograph after this course but I have started to collect photography which later on smoothly turned into art. CL: It is said that except art you also collect comics, vinyl records. Do you treat them as completion of your collections or as a separate ones ? KM: For me this is a completion. These additional elements such as china, comics, artistic books, lighting or furniture when combined together create some kind of an atmosphere or themes which we are interested in. As an example I can give you an object from Piotr’s collection and this is a set of tea china which was painted in his famous stripes by Leon Tarasewicz. And this combined with a lamp by Kasia Przezwańska and in the background there
Wilhelm Sasnal, courtesy Krzysztof Masiewicz
Where the world makes its home in a single nest Goshka Macuga responds to Tagore’s legacy
Till 23 November, Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in London hosted the exhibition of installations created by two artists – Goshka Macuga and Anna Boghiguian. The exhibition presented the profile and artistic activity of a prominent philosopher, poet, composer and teacher Rabindranath Tagore, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for the year 1913. The starting point for this particular exhibition by Macuga and Boghiguian is an experimental school named Visva Bharati, established by Tagore in Santiniketan in the Indian state of West Bengal. Both artists visited Santiniketan in the past. This year Boghiguian spent a few months in this school, whereas Macuga went there in 2006. The artworks presented in Iniva represent the artists’ inspirations drawn
from their stay in India. Educational practices in the school established by Tagore consisted in combining applicable methods developed in India, as well as in Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, Santiniketan was an avantgrade centre. Its philosophy was based on the principles of ecology and experimental pedagogy; it educated budding artists, craftsmen, writers, dancers and musicians. What is more, at Santiniketan, progressive thinking based on Bauhaus school was strictly interconnected with tradition and the Indian educational style, called tapovana – a forest school. Tagore believed in the world without borders, “where ideas and knowledge could be freely and equally assimilated and exchanged” (Amrit Sen, “Beyond Borders”: Rabindranath Tagore’s Paintings and Visva-Bharati). He was
Goshka Macuga, When was Modernism ? Installation view, Iniva at Rivington Place, photo: Thierry Bal, courtesy of Iniva
a true citizen of the world and an erudite. He was characterized by an insatiable curiosity about the world and continuous willingness to familiarize himself with new cultures and fields of science. Both artists who created the current exhibition seem to follow Tagore’s example. Macuga and Boghiguian are both utterly cosmopolitan, who create their own artworks in the meantime between their numerous journeys around the world. Both artists’ works belong to interdisciplinary art category and draw upon influences from various fields. In her artistic work, Goshka Macuga simultaneously acts as an artist, an investigator, a historian and a curator. She carries out complex projects on the basis of historical, archival and scientific materials. As a part of the current project, she converted one of the exhibition rooms in Iniva into a small archival research room, where the exhibition’s visitors can familiarize themselves with souvenirs, let-
ters, newspaper cuttings and photographs of Tagore’s family. These archival materials are closely interconnected with Macuga’s works. By combining archival materials with the present, the artist reveals new themes and introduces the visitors to new contexts. This way of presentation gives everyone an opportunity to reflect on the unknown and the forgotten. In another room of the gallery, the installation entitled When was Modernism ? (2008) is presented. It symbolically recreates Santiniketan school’s courtyard, where, in the fresh air, philosophical disputes and discussions of students and their mentors used to take place. The title of this installation itself is worth elaborating on. In Macuga’s works, there are frequent references to modernist tradition. This particular installation is composed of numerous smaller parts, including sculptures, artefacts and objects. The whole immaculately clean space of the gallery’s White Cube has been symmetrically organized around the circular concrete well, with the tree growing right in the mid-
dle of it. Simple benches surround the well. In the corner of the room, on makeshift mobile platforms, there are figurative sculptures and busts made of clay or stone. Attached to the wall are shelves with the rows of busts, heads and abstract forms. There are bars sticking through the sculptures, every presented work is damaged or unfinished. Macuga found all these works in Santiniketan’s courtyard itself, where arts students used to practice and develop their sculpting skills. It can be concluded that Macuga, just as former European colonists, became fascinated with oriental culture and, therefore, decided to take some of its treasures with her. Interestingly enough, the artworks collected by Macuga have universal meaning, which is a characteristic feature of modernism. The atmosphere of contemplation feels prevalent in the exhibition room – concrete is combined with nature, just as it used to be in modernist utopia. One can feel the coexistence of Bauhausian order, oriental tranquillity and meditation.
Tagore aimed to combine local culture with cosmopolitan openness to different viewpoints. The motto of Visva Bharati University: “Where the world makes its home in a single nest”, perfectly renders this principle. Acting as culture archeologist, Macuga seems to strive to achieve the similar goal. She presents local stories in a much broader cultural and historical context. She manages to successfully include “big narratives“ in a very limited space of a gallery room. interviewed: Sylwia Krason translation: Joanna Pietrak
By means of this installation, Macuga aims to attract our attention to Tagore’s legacy, which contributed to the development of art education system in India. In the 1920s, the school in Santiniketan started international cooperation. For example, in 1922 a group exhibition of the most talented Indian artists and Bauhaus masters was organized in Calcutta. Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky sent their works to be presented there. This exhibition showcased works of Indian artists as well as some of the most famous international artists from the Bauhaus school and it successfully proved the equality of both art movements. It is worth noting that colonialism was thriving at that time, so intercontinental cooperation and intercultural dialogue were virtually nonexistent. In 1921, the Santiniketan school was awarded a university status and named Visva Bharati. The university exists nowadays and continually develops the tradition of artists’ residency programmes.
Goshka Macuga, When was Modernism ? (detail), installation view at Rivington Place, 2008, mixed media, photo: Thierry Bal, courtesy of Iniva
Iniva’s Education Space – Archive Materials from the Tagore Centre UK 2013, Photo: Thierry Bal, courtesy of Iniva 58
Tagoreâ€™s Universal Allegories at Rivington Place, Photo: Thierry Bal
Contemporary Lynx invites curators, collectors, gallery owners, and people from the art world to share with us the most interesting, important or intriguing artworks by Polish artists. Each of our guests will select one piece of art and present it to us in the form of a postcard. This bite-size selection chosen by top experts and art aficionados aims to show the vibrancy and quality of contemporary Polish art.
an Executive Director and Chief Curator at Sculpture Center sent us a Postcard from New York
Agnieszka Kurant was born in 1978 in Lodz, Poland and studied in Lodz, Warsaw, and London. She was an artist in residence at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2004); ISCP, New York (2005); Paul Klee Center, Bern (2009); Location One, New York (2012); and Iaspis, Stockholm (2013). She represented Poland at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale (in collaboration with the architect Aleksandra Wasilkowska). Her works have been shown at: Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2004); Tate Modern, London (2006); among other international venues. She participated in several international contemporary art exhibitions including: Performa Biennial, New York (2009); Bucharest Biennale (2008); and 2nd Ural Biennial (2012). Agnieszka Kurant, Cutaways, film still, SculptureCenter, New York, 2013, courtesy of SculptureCenter
Mary Ceruti acts as SculptureCenter’s Chief Curator and oversees all aspects of program, planning, and organizational development. She has organized numerous solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art and curated special projects and commissions by over 50 emerging and established artists. Before joining SculptureCenter in 1999, Mary worked as an independent curator and writer and was the Director of Programs at Capp Street Project, an acclaimed international residency program, commissioning installation projects in San Francisco from 1992-98 61
gdansk warsaw poznan brussels london basel new york
Mind the Map Contemporary
Warsaw Gallery Weekend
Jan Głuszak “Dagarama “
“Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More” Polish Pavilion
Lynx / traveller
Performa13 Polish Pavilion Without Walls New York
Who Are You or The Polish School of Happiness Viennafair 2013
“Enfant terrible. New Polish Po
“An Approach to Being”
“Mum, I just really need to foc Polish artists born in the 80s
“Bogota. A city on the edge” exhibition opening in Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art
Lynx / traveller
cus on my art right now”
Foksal Gallery Foundation and Starmach Gallery ArtBasel
Ewa Axelrad, ORANĹť (eng. ORANGE), site-specific installation, 2011, mixed media, Biala Gallery, Lublin Fair Child UC-123K 3d print of a mutated aircraft model, azure paint, spot-light, dimensions variable, courtesy of artist
Ewa Axelrad, Warm Leatherette, The Absorbent, 2012, installation, installation view at Czytelnia Sztuki in Gliwice steal, silver car body paint (total size 3m x 3m x 3m, the barrier 308cm x 40cm x 40cm), courtesy of artist and BWA Warszawa gallery
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D r. O s ma n D ja ja d is a s t ra C h ris t in a S t e in b re c h e r- P f a n d t & Vit a Z a ma n S t e f a n ie K re u ze r D avid C ro w ley C e d a r Le w is o h n
IN BRIEF Polish art in their own words...
D r. O s m a n D ja jadi s a s tra / Ge rm a ny – b a s e d collecto r o f Po li sh ar t You come to Poland many times. What are your impressions regarding the Polish current artistic scene after those visits ? It starts to be more professional than it was four-five years ago, because a lot of new galleries are being opened now. Especially the young Polish art is growing very much. Last year the “Gallery weekend” in Warsaw was perfectly organized. They presented very interesting art not only from Poland but also from abroad. The gallery scene develops and goes in the right direction. I have a very good impression now. It seems however, that there are not so many Polish collectors buying younger art. The Polish collectors are focused on the art from XIX century and the classics from the XX century. Probably they learned about it in the school. Most of them would have the money to buy younger art, however during their education they were acquainted mainly with the classic art. I hope, that this will change in the future when new generations mature with a different art education.
Christin a Stein brech er- Pf a n d t & Vit a Zaman / V i en n a f a i r A rti s t i c D i re c t o rs There are eight galleries from Poland at Viennafair this year. This is probably the “record” number. Do you, as the persons from outside, notice anything that is characteristic for them ? Do you find any common denominator of the Polish art galleries and art they promote ? Vita: I think of Poland as a leading country on the map of the contemporary art in Europe and I am a strong believer in its impact on the future, as well as its current position. I hope that there will be even more galleries and institutions (especially regional ones) presented in Vienna next year. Polish galleries have a good attitude, are diverse enough in terms of their programs, and foster the young scene. I come from Lithuania and am quite envious of the Polish story. As for a country of 3 million people, we also have great galleries, art institutions and artists, but not enough collectors. Christina: It is remarkable that the middle class does collect and is able to sustain a very active scene with a great diversity of galleries. My impression is that they are young and confident about their artists and that they influence the mentality of other collectors and drivers of the market.
S tef anie K re u ze r/ t h e c u ra to r a t th e Mu s e u m M orsbroi ch in Lever k u se n Last year you came to Poland on the initiative of the Polish Institute in Dusseldorf. What were your impressions regarding the Polish artistic scene after this visit? When I visited to Poland last year (not the first time), I had the privilege to be invited by the Instytut Adama Mickiewicza because the Polish Institute in Düsseldorf offered me the possibility to ask for a “curators tour”. So I arrived in Warsaw and a “tour” was prepared for me – Warsaw, Poznan and Lodz – with a lot of appointments with colleagues, institutions, galleries and artists. This made it quite easy to get into the place. I felt an intense discourse between the actors of the art scene about contemporary art combined with the idea of an existential need to produce these artworks on the side of the artists. There was a high energy of discussing art in relationship to essential questions – far away from the superficial consume of artworks.
D av id C ro wley / p ro f e s s o r a t th e R o ya l C o l l e g e of Art in Lo n d o n , co - cu ra t o rs o f th e s h o w S o u ndi n g T he Bod y Elect r ic The exhibition Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984 at Calvert22 (London) presents many Polish artists. Was Poland one of the strongest centres of experimentation among the communist countries? Was there something special about Poland in terms of combining sound with visuals ? The Polish case is particularly important because the first experimental studio in the Bloc was set up in Warsaw in 1957 by Józef Patkowski. He was particularly well connected. His address book contained key figures in the East and in the West. When George Maciunas, the founder of Fluxus, was looking to establish connections with the East he turned to Patkowski. But Poland was important for other reasons too. The Warsaw Autumn festival brought experimental music to the capital from all around the world. And there was a very animated culture of artistic experiment there too – probably almost as free as that found in Yugoslavia which was not tied to the Soviet Union or Soviet aesthetics. Happenings and installations were created in Poland in the 1960s in sync with events in North America and Western Europe. (...)
Cedar Le wiso h n / L o n d o n- b a s e d c u ra t o r, expert an d reseach er on s tre e t a rt How would you compare street art from post-communist countries like Poland and the one from Western countries? Is there anything particular about East European street art scene ? I think the different history that the artists come out of effects the work in many interesting ways. Added to that their different perspective on art history. I remember having a conversation with Zbiok about the artist Fernand Léger. I’ve also liked Léger, as a kind of Cubist pioneer to Pop Art. But Zbiok’s reading of Léger was from a totally political perspective. So it made me think about the work in a totally different way. That’s just one example.
top events of 2013
Strong line-up of Polish artists at the 55th Venice Biennale. Konrad Smoleński spearheaded Polish presence in Venice, taking over the Polish Pavilion with his monumental video and audio installation - Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More.
Goshka Macuga in London. A unique collaboration between artists Anna Boghiguian and Goshka Macuga centred on the work of Indian poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore, staged at the legendary Institute of International Visual Arts in London.
Paulina Ołowska in Amste Paulina Ołowska’s solo exh Paradise / The Ladies’ Delig Museum Amsterdam. The ings, drawings, collage, an traordinary theatrical insta
Adam Szymczyk as Artistic Director of Documenta 14. Adam Szymczyk has been elected as the Artistic Director of Documenta 14, which is scheduled to take place from 10 June to 17 September 2017 in Kassel. Documenta is one of the highest-profile international contemporary art exhibitions.
Agnieszka Kurant at SculptureCenter in New York. SculptureCenter presented her first solo exhibition in the United States. Kurant produced several new works that explore the editing process as an aesthetic and political act as well as accumulations and potentials of phantom capital.
Jerzy ‘Jurry’ Zieliński in Lo Luxembourg & Dayan prese of works by Polish postwar a Jurry’s painting was also pr in London. Both exhibition the presentation of three pa (project space) in New York Alison Gingeras.
erdam. hibition entitled The Ladies’ ght opened at the Stedelijk show encompassed paintnd neon signage in an exallation.
Alina Szapocznikow in Stockholm. The retrospective exhibition entitled Art of Memory at Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm presented Szapocznikow’s sculptures and drawings. By looking at her works, it’s impossible to resist a feeling that her whole artistic activity is a battle against death, brutally shortened life and time of creation... But most of all, it’s a desire to leave a mark.
PERFORMA 13: Polish Pavilion Without Walls in New York. New York festival entirely dedicated to performance had a strong focus on Polish art this year, including: Paweł Althamer’s project quoted as a highlight of Performa13, Szlaga & Smoleński’s ear- and eye-blasting performance and installation at Fridman Gallery and Katarzyna Krakowiak’s sound-piece presented at James A. Farley Post Office and many more.
ondon and New York. ented the first UK exhibition artist Jerzy ‘Jurry’ Zieliński. resented at Frieze Masters ns followed the success of aintings by Zieliński at Oko k in April 2013 curated by
Czułość Gallery at Viennafair. Czułość Gallery, with a sterile and simple design of their stand, focused the audience’s attention on the artworks. They displayed a very coherent collection of subtle photographs by Janek Zamoyski. This presentation brought them the biggest success among Polish galleries – Czułość won the Emerging Gallery Prize.
Marcin Maciejowski’s solo show at BALTIC – Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. This was Maciejowski’s first individual exhibition in a public institution in the United Kingdom. The exhibition comprised of 25 paintings created between 2003 and 2012. The universal comment on pop culture makes Maciejowski’s work poignant and legible both in Poland and the UK. 71
We are proud to present the first experimental edition of Contemporary Lynx Magazine. It’s a summary of a very busy and successful year for...
Published on Jan 2, 2014
We are proud to present the first experimental edition of Contemporary Lynx Magazine. It’s a summary of a very busy and successful year for...