The special project VIENNA Duet will present two insightful exhibitions from Poland and Georgia at VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary from October 10 to 13. With the invaluable support of The Polish Institute Vienna, you have the opportunity to see a selection of the most exciting young contemporary artists from Poland, curated by Klara Czerniewska and Vita Zaman.
“Who Are You or The Polish School of Happiness”
The exhibition features works by some of the most interesting young artists from Poland and at the same time showcases especially inspiring tendencies in contemporary art.
“What is happiness?”, “How can you achieve it?”, “Can you learn to be happy?”, and finally, “Does (making) art make one happy?” – How often do we ask ourselves such questions? Do young artists from Poland ever ask them?
One of the most important common characteristics of the artists participating in the show is that they are searching : for new ideas, forms, and means of expression, while at the same time they are constantly analyzing the self. Fighting with obstacles like Don Quixote, they get involved whole-heartedly in a first-person narrative.
The new attitudes are plainly visible. They are fed up with politics and big words, ideals, and declarations. They rather approach everything very tongue in cheek, exhibiting a distance toward – or lack of? – authorities (see e.g. the psychedelic and provocative videos of Dominika Olszowy or Maria Toboła) and at the same time have a keen eye toward the poetics of the (extra)ordinary, as in the photographs of Janek Zamoyski. Doing everything on their own, sometimes they ask naive questions or try to reinvent the wheel, but they still come up with something fresh and revealing.
Tymek Borowski, for example, started as a painter – one of many inspired by Surrealism – “fed up with reality”, as art critic Jakub Banasiak put it. His probation of the medium – a canvas rectangle covered with paint – first brought him to include texts not beside but within the paintings. From this point on, he then took the radical step of ennobling what was the lowest in the hierarchy of visual culture: the memes, comic images littering the impenetrable abyss of the Internet. What will happen when we monumentalize them and put them in the context of high art? Is it a joke or a skeptical commentary about the visual environment we live in? Or maybe both?
On the other hand, aren’t happiness and satisfaction dangerous, especially for the creative forces? Comfort and peace of mind make you lenient and passive – “Long Live The Crisis” seem to exclaim the works by Małgorzata Szymankiewicz (Comfortable Situation). The only way to overcome the creative crisis is to try and to practice, even if it sometimes means failure.
And happiness is a cozy lie, created to justify the existence of dreamers.
Meet the Artists:
The work is inspired by a dialogue in Christopher Nolan’s movie, Batman: The Dark Knight. The Joker, hanging off the building, says to Batman: “Madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push”. Czerepok’s work refers to falling into the dark space of madness, to the fear of going around the bend. According to the artist, it is difficult to distinguish the boundaries between obsession and normality because insanity is a state of mind that seduces by its logic. Madness is like a head-rush, pulls unnoticed and definitely, there is no way out of it.
Czerepok (born 1973 Słubice, Poland, currently based in Wrocław) is represented by Żak | Branicka Gallery, Berlin/Krakow. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, where he also did his doctorate and currently lectures in the Multimedia Communication Department.
Find out more on www.zak-branicka.org
In May 2011 Jastrubczak made a statue of a sleeping cowboy from plasticine. A month later, it was laid down in a wooden crate and sent to the USA by ship. On July 4 it was delivered to New York. It was a bit damaged. On July 9 it was transported to the airport and sent back to Poland. This time, it shrunk while beating against the walls of the crate during the flight. The deformed plasticine model was then cast in concrete. The “Sleeping Cowboy” has only one ear – the other, detached in one of the stages of the journey, became a separate sculpture.
The Sleeping Cowboy was first presented in 2011 in the BWA Tarnów (Southern Poland) during the exhibition “Tarnów. 1000 Years of Modernity”, where until recently he slept at the train station – a silent representative of those who keep dreaming about a better life abroad.
Łukasz Jastrubczak (born 1984) studied at art academies in Wrocław and Katowice. He is represented by Dawid Radziszewski Gallery, Warsaw.
Find out more on http://dawidradziszewski.com and http://www.lukaszjastrubczak.com
Przemek Matecki (born 1976, represented by Raster Gallery, Warsaw) was one of the first artists in Poland to announce the revival of collage. However, his experiments with cutting and pasting found materials were organically incorporated into his canvases: Photos from glossy magazines were stuck to impastos of oil paint and degraded by oily stains. Associations with art informel or Robert Rauschenberg’s version of pop art are not out of place.
Today, the found materials dominate the paint in Matecki’s works, as can be seen in the canvas we are presenting here: a “moodboard” collecting the icons of contemporary visual culture, such as David Lynch, Yayoi Kusama, Joseph Beuys, as well as reproductions of famous works by Da Vinci, Courbet, Durer, or Warhol.
At the School of Happiness we will also present some of Matecki’s brand new works on paper from the Oil Sketches series – pieces where the artist’s sensitivity and sense of humor are at their best.
Find out more on rastergallery.com
Dominika Olszowy (Gallery concept Sandra, Warsaw)
Dominika Olszowy (born 1982) is a multidisciplinary artist, actress, and performer. She graduated from the University of Arts in Poznań, Intermedia Department. A noteworkthy work by Ossowiecki is a video she made for her BA diploma in 2011, in which she recites prophecies for Poland, citing the words of famous astronomers, e.g. Nostradamus, Schumann, or engineer Stefan Ossowiecki – a wizard who lived in the interwar Poland, close friend and advisor of the most powerful politicians of the time – Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and Józef Piłsudski. The legends say that Ossowiecki was capable of telekinesis and bilocation and had telepathic talents. He is said to have predicted the Second World War and the Warsaw Uprising.
The three-screen projection shows Olszowy, stylized as an esoteric TV presenter, with a background of cosmic shapes, crystals, and nebulae whirling behind her in a psychedelic, hypnotic dance. The text alludes to Poles’ inclination toward megalomania and xenophobia, to their complex of grandiosity and inferiority inextricably joined together, and the ideology of messianism – that Poland, who always suffered the most in Europe’s history, will be the leader of the transition towards a new, better world.
In 2008 in Poznan Olszowy established the gallery concept Sandra (sandraartgallery.blogspot.com) and recently, after moving to Warsaw, is part of Cipedrapkuad, an uber-feminist rap squad (soundcloud.com/krewkurew, together with Ewa Maria Tobola).
Maria Ewa Toboła, (Gallery concept Sandra, Warsaw)
ZOO, video, 2010
Maria Ewa Tobola (born 1987) studied intermedia and painting at the University of Arts in Poznan. She graduated in 2012 with a BA from Prof. Leszek Knaflewski’s Audiosfera Studio. Currently based in Warsaw, she is part of the Cipedrapskuad duo (together with Dominika Olszowy).
While watching her videos and performances, you might get an impression that she’s a “good girl gone bad” playing hard on men (as in the video “Winter Concert”, where she taps on buttocks of three naked men as if they were a percussion set), messing with the police and security guards in shopping malls (Tarzan: Documentation and This is how good girls play around), decadently singing some Polish “golden oldies” for a group of soldiers or the closest family in “White Army” and “Daddy Don’t Drink”, and even French-kissing her own mother (Self-portait with mother).
The ZOO is a video she shot in an old zoo in Poznan. It is dawn, feeding time, there is noone except some two figures in the background, preparing supper for some llamas. In the foreground, a young woman in a skimpy outfit and a red wig practices pole dance on a street lantern, obviously not caring at all about who might be looking, simply having fun on her own, maybe after a several glasses of vodka…? The video is mute, the camera is set still, and we are watching her as if through a car window on a strange, urban safari.
see more on http://vimeo.com/user4514918/videos
Is there anything comfortable about looking at strange geometrical forms (based on the shape of K-dron, a form discovered by the Polish graphic artist and designer Janusz Kapusta), resembling your grannie’s sofa upholstered with a tacky, nightmarish textile from the late 1980s, crossed with Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Wreck of Hope”? Does the deconstruction of a well-known shape of a detested piece of furniture, a representative of the past, bring satisfaction or relief, e.g. from the aesthetics that fortunately are gone?
The installation by Małgorzata Szymankiewicz, constructed with materials usually associated with furnishing (wood, sponge, upholstery, and even a piece of carpet) encourages us to pose such questions. Viewed as a piece of anti-design, it provokes us to question the relationships between the man and the object he creates, or perhaps to review the hierarchy of needs in Maslow’s pyramid: can a piece of art be as necessary as a piece of furniture? Is art to bring us comfort, or maybe the opposite? Discomfort, which causes us to reconsider things as they are, and search for the new, go beyond the horizon?
Małgorzata Szymankiewicz (born 1980) studied painting and art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań. She currently works at the Department of Painting and Drawing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź and at the Department of New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Szczecin. She is represented by BWA Warszawa, Warsaw.
Find out more on www.bwawarszawa.pl
Before he founded the Czułość Gallery back in 2010 (“czułość” in Polish means tenderness but also (photo)sensitivity), Janek Zamoyski worked as a photographer for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, a major daily newspaper in Poland. Czułość, conceived as an independent, avant-garde movement of a young generation of photographers (as well as befriended musicians and other young creatives), is a completely different universe. The gallery is becoming ever more influential, present at major photo festivals and in important publications, and was one of the first institutions in Poland to present the phenomenon of self-publishing.
At first glance, the works of Janek Zamoyski (born 1978) are just another variation of a traditional, petit-bourgeois theme: landscape or still life. Yet their grainy (as if taken from a magazine or a newspaper and enlarged) often grayish or pale surfaces incorporate a decadent aura of poetry, romanticism and melancholia. But the withering sunflower, flooded with heavy light contrasting with the dark background, has hardly anything in common with the Van Gogh cliche.
Find out more on czulosc.com
Tymek Borowski (born 1984) graduated from the Department of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2009. After being called “tired of reality” and named as one of the “new surrealists”, a group of young painters who emerged in the Polish art scene around 2008, he claimed that he was, in fact, totally “in love with life” and pursued an entirely individual path. His testing of the medium – a canvas rectangle covered with paint – first brought him to include texts not beside but within the paintings. From this point on, he then took the radical step of ennobling what was the lowest in the hierarchy of visual culture: On the one hand, the advertising signs and banners, ever-present in Polish landscape since the fall of the communism, and on the other, the gifs and memes, comic images littering the impenetrable abyss of the Internet. What will happen when we monumentalize them and put them in the context of high art? Is it a joke or a skeptical commentary about the visual environment we live in? Or maybe both?
“Let the Gold Shine” is one of his banners he has been producing since 2012. It was first shown in January 2013 at the Centre of Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw, at Borowski’s solo show “Theory and Practice”. In Vienna we will present a brand new, English-German edition of this work.
The poetics of popular personality tests is approached with the highest level of ironic seriousness – as in his videos published on YouTube, often created together with Paweł Sysiak, where the most rudimentary – and in our eyes even naive or absurd – questions about the meaning of life and art are posed. Life, as Borowski argues, is bloody simple, and following just a few standard patterns, after answering yourself a few really simple questions, will lead you straight to happiness and fulfillment.
Borowski was represented by Kolonie Gallery in Warsaw (until the gallery shut down in mid-2013). Apart from producing material artworks, he is also engaged in online art projects. Together with Paweł Sysiak he established Billy Gallery – an informal group of artists struggling to use the Internet as a serious art medium (http://billygallery.com), and together with Paweł Śliwiński he created an online-art gallery called Herostrates, which represents fictional artists. He publishes his works on www.tymekborowski.blogspot.com and runs a design studio called Czosnek (“garlic” in Polish).
Find out more on www.tymekborowski.com
Curator Klara Czerniewska
Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. Studied art history in Warsaw and Copenhagen, writes on art, architecture, and design for cultural and lifestyle magazines (dwutygodnik.com, Take Me, K Mag, Exit, Twoj Styl, culture.pl).
In 2011 she published the first monographic book on Gabriel and Hanna Rechowicz – a couple of multidisciplinary Polish artists, whose oeuvre encompassed exhibition design, painting, children’s illustration, and decorative art.
Engaged in various curatorial projects – together with Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka – former editor-in-chief of Elle Decor Poland, coordinated and co-curated several design exhibitions (most recently: Common Roots: Design Map of Central Europe at the Design Museum Holon, Israel; Who Are You? at the Lodz Design Festival 2012 and Stalowa Wola 2013, and Materia Prima: Design and Landscape in Munkeruphus, Denmark).
Many thanks to Klara Czerniewska for the contribution to this post.